Amygdalota or (Αμυγδαλωτά in Greek) are a classic Greek almond cookie. These amazing cookies are made with almond flour and egg whites and are crispy on the outside by soft on the inside. They are one of my favourite cookies; very flavourful, just sweet enough, and amazing served with a delicious cup of Greek coffee.
If you’ve never eaten amygdalota, here’s what you can expect. This is a cookie that is gluten-free, since it contains only almond flour. Add to that egg whites, superfine sugar (you can read more about that in the Helpful hints), and a special technique and you get a cookie that is firm and kind of crisp on the outside, but soft, chewy and macaroon-like on the inside. Note, I said macaroon and not macaron…those are two different types of cookies. What makes this even more confusing is that the ingredients in amygdalota are actually more similar to the ingredients in macarons versus macaroons. Sigh. You know what…don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the amygdalota and don’t concern yourself to much with what they are, and are not, similar to.
It took years for me to perfect this recipe to the point where I felt comfortable sharing it. However, with this recipe I feel that they are even better than the amygdalota that I have always purchased, and loved, from our local Greek bakery. Amydalota,, these traditional Greek almond cookies, are the perfect addition to a Christmas cookie platter along with melomakarona, kourambiethes, and koulourakia.
Why I love this recipe
Remember when you were a kid and you made someone that you loved a card, or a macaroni Christmas tree ornament, or a finger painting of what was clearly an abstract masterpiece? Remember how excited you were to offer your gift and to sit back and listen to the accolades? Remember the pride, the joy, the downright glee? I really, really hope that you do.
I remember that feeling, and frankly, I’m having the same kind of feels right now. But now it’s not about art, or arts and crafts…it’s about baking and I am practically bursting to be able to share with you my recipe for amygdalota. Youppi!!
Amygdalota are classic Greek almond cookies made with few ingredients; almond flour, egg whites, sugar and a few more little things combined to create a cookie that is full of flavour, which has a texture unlike any other, and which looks so, so pretty.
So what took so long, you ask? A few things. First, because this isn’t a recipe that our parents’ make, I was on my own. And so, I needed to be sure that this amygdalota recipe was as perfect as I could make it. It is! After many, many, many versions were baked in my kitchen, and then taste-tested by Helen and our families, I am confident that this recipe is a winner. The final step was to get the approval of my parents; although they don’t make amygdalota, they love them and it is their favourite cookie from one of the Greek bakeries in our city. This recipe had them exclaim, “Bravo!” in unison. The second reason for the wait was that although many had asked if we had an amygdalota recipe, Helen and I were kind of holding onto it – for a future project. But finally, in a fit of childlike can’t-wait-for-you-to-see-what-we’ve-got-for-you excitement it was decided that holding out was too painful and that future projects would just have to share present gifts. I think that will work out just fine.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make these traditional Greek almond cookies.
Almond flour – The base of these cookies is almond flour. I use superfine almond flour to make these gluten-free cookies.
Superfine sugar – I start off with granulated sugar which I grind in a blender or food processor. The superfine sugar is perfect for these cookies because it incorporates into the batter perfectly.
Egg whites – Only egg whites are used in these cookies. They are whipped and then folded into the batter in two different points. I often use carton egg white for these cookies because I find it easier, and I am not left with the unused egg yolks.
Cream of tartar – Using cream of tartar makes the whipped egg whites more sturdy so that they retain their fluffiness.
Almond extract – Adds the warm and nutty flavour of almonds to these cookies.
Slivered almonds – I use slivered almonds to decorate the top of my cookies before baking them. Alternatively, you can decorated the cookies with an entire almond.
How to make
Follow these tried and true step to make the perfect amygdalota.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium sized bowl whisk to combine the almond flour with the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using the hand held mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together 3 of the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Next add the almond extract and the superfine sugar to the whisked egg whites and beat until well combined and your mixture appears glossy.
Fold in the almond flour using a rubber spatula. Your dough will be stiff at this point but mix well until you end up with a uniform batter.
Add in the last 2 egg whites and beat to combine using your hand held mixer. (At this point we switch to the paddle attachments of the hand held mixer).
Attach a large star shaped piping tip to your piping bag. Fill your piping bag with the cookie batter and pipe cookies onto a parchment lined cookie tray. Leave about 1 inch between cookies and pipe your cookies so that they are about 1 inch high.
Place a slivered almond on top of each cookie.
Bake in the middle rack of your oven for between 17 – 19 minutes until golden brown on the bottom of the cookie. The baking time will depend on how you have shaped your amygdalota.
Remove your baking tray from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between almond flour, almond meal and ground almonds?
Both almond flour and almond meal are actually made of ground almonds. The difference however is that almond flour is made from blanched, peeled almonds whereas almond meal is coarser and made from raw, unpeeled almonds. Between the two, almond flour is lighter in colour and finer in texture, and it is what is used in this recipe for amydgalota.
Can I make my own almond flour?
Sure! All you need is a good blender and a few minutes of your time – and the almonds of course. Add blanched and peeled almonds to your blender and blend until you end up with a finely ground texture. Don’t walk away or you might end up with almond butter! Alternatively, you can purchase almond flour here.
The recipe calls for a total of 5 large egg whites. What do I do with the leftover egg yolks?
First, I love that you are concerned about not wasting food! My parents would be very proud of you! There are lots of recipes that use egg yolks including custards and lemon curd. You can also cook egg yolks and feed them to your dog, you can use them to make face masks and you can even preserve them. This last option sounds SO weird – I am definitely going to try it one day. Or, you can do what I have started doing, which is to buy egg whites in a carton. That way there are no shells to crack, and no yolks to deal with.
What is superfine sugar, and where can I find it?
Superfine sugar is exactly what it sounds like, sugar with very fine crystals of granulated sugar. It is often used in delicate desserts like meringues and mousses. I like to use it here because it incorporates easily into the beaten egg whites.
If you can’t find superfine sugar in the store (even if you do – pass…it is usually quite expensive), here is how to make it at home. Simply put regular granulated sugar in a blender or food processor for a few seconds until you end up with powdery white superfine sugar granules.
Note: superfine sugar is NOT icing or powdered sugar.
Do I need to shape these cookies with a piping bag?
No you don’t. You can make delicious amygdalota by using a mini ice cream scooper or even a tablespoon to measure out the dough for each cookie. I love the look of using a piping bag, and the way that the edges on the piping get extra firm after baking but this is not essential. Also, if you prefer a less chewy inside to crispy outside ratio, make your cookies a little flatter – either by using a piping bag or not. Simply adjust the baking time.
If you love these traditional Greek almond cookies, I think that you will love these cookies as well:
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- Hand held mixer with both whisk and paddle attachment
- Piping bag and tip
- 3 cups almond flour we use superfine ground
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 + 2 large egg whites see Recipe Notes
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar see Recipe Notes
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk to combine the almond flour with the salt. Set aside.3 cups almond flour, 1/4 tsp salt
- In a large bowl, using the hand held mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together 3 of the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Next add the almond extract and the superfine sugar to the whisked egg whites and beat until well combined and your mixture appears glossy.1/4 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp almond extract, 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, 3 + 2 large egg whites
- Fold in the almond flour using a rubber spatula. Your dough will be stiff at this point but mix well until you end up with a uniform batter.
- Add in the last 2 egg whites and beat to combine using your hand held mixer. (At this point we switch to the paddle attachments of the hand held mixer).
- Attach a large star shaped piping tip to your piping bag. Fill your piping bag with the cookie batter and pipe cookies onto a parchment lined cookie tray. Leave about 1 inch between cookies and pipe your cookies so that they are about 1 inch high. If you do not have a piping bag you can simply use a tablespoon or mini ice cream scooper to form balls of cookie dough.
- Place a slivered almond on top of each cookie.1/4 cup slivered almonds
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for between 17 - 19 minutes until golden brown on the bottom of the cookie. The baking time will depend on how you have shaped your amygdalota.
- Remove your baking tray from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.