by Marla Norman, Publisher
Walking up to Cav Vicenzi’s main office we’re already swooning from the delicious scent of freshly baked amaretti. The honeyed almond aroma is knee-weakening.
Elena Olivieri, sales manager for Cav Vicenzi Amaretti, meets us at the main door, smiling and full of energy. She also has a plate of warm, melt-in-your-mouth Amaretti. Needless to say, we devour the cookies on the spot.
According to local legend, Amaretti were first created in the 1700’s by Francesco Moriondo, a patissier for the Royal Court of Savoy. The cookies were an instant hit and nobles began making gifts of them to important guests. Some time later, the talented Moriondo moved to Mombaruzzo, set up shop and and began producing Amaretti.
The rest, as they say, is history. Amaretti are made across Italy, but the Amaretti Mombaruzzo are considered the most authentic. The Vicenzi family has been producing the delicacies since 1955. Their version is soft – other recipes are crunchy. However, all Amaretti use a few simple ingredients: sugar, almonds, apricot kernels and egg whites.
“Now,” explains Elena, “We still produce the classic version, but we also offer different flavors to keep young people interested in our products. Kids today don’t want to eat the Amaretti of their grandparents, so we’ve created Lemon, Mandarin, Coffee, Gianduja Chocolate and Hazelnut Dolcetto.
We move along the production area to watch the traditional version being made up. Huge batches of dough are mixed in enormous containers. “This all used to be done by hand,” Elena tells us. “Now it’s entirely mechanized and that allows us to produce 115 kilos or 253 pounds a day.”
Continuing along the assembly line, we watch the cookies being dropped onto sheets and then baked for exactly 12 minutes. From the ovens, the Amaretti are cooled and then individually wrapped and packed into boxes.
“In addition to our Cav Vicenzi label, we also produce private labels. EATLY, for example, is one of our largest contracts,” says Elena. (See more on EATLY here.)
At the end of the tour we visit the gift shop and see many of the older labels and packaging on display. Elena tells us that they’re redoing the labels to update the look of their products. “VERY difficult to come up with new packaging,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Much easier to make a baby than to have my group agree on a label.”
We sympathize with her plight, but I think – as I buy a dozen packages of the delicious cookies – a more serious problem would be the temptation of eating the sweet Amaretti all day. “YES!” Elena confirms that’s a constant issue. “We must verify the quality of our products, but I try not to volunteer as much as I used to,” she laughs.