Amaretti (sing. Amaretto, and no, it has nothing to do with the famous almond liqueur) are Italian biscuits from the late Renaissance period. They’re usually made with egg whites, sugar, and a mix of sweet almonds with either bitter almonds or apricot kernels.
Depending on the ingredient ratios, amaretti cookies can be hard and crispy (secchi) or soft and chewy (morbidi). The most famous amaretti cookie variety, Amaretti di Saronno is small, dry, and crispy, but the majority of them veer towards being a bit chewy, if not soft.
Hard and crunchy amaretti cookies are sometimes called “biscotti de credenza” (it. “cupboard biscuits”), as they can last a long time without going stale.
The widespread commercialization of amaretti cookies is the achievement of the Lazzaroni family, which has been producing Saronno-style amaretti cookies since at least 1847. In the late 19th century, Luigi Lazzaroni started widespread manufacturing and packaged the cookies in metal tins, turning once simple dessert into a luxury gift, a habit other companies soon copied.