Almond Macaroons

Saturday, December 13, 2008

This recipe was featured in my local newspaper a couple of weeks ago, as part of a series they called "12 Days of Holiday Cookies." They looked and sounded good, so I decided that they would be part of my baking marathon (more on that later).

My macaroons came out thinner and crispier than I was expecting, but they have a really good almond flavor. Definitely a tasty cookie.

Almond Macaroons
(Source: Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn)

- 10 ounces (about 2 full cups) blanched whole almonds
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
- 6 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground. Add the egg whites and almond extract and process until blended.

2. Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and process until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds, or until the dough is a thick, sticky paste.Drop the dough by level tablespoonfuls, arranging about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. (Warning: Definitely space them out. They expand a lot.) Using a pastry brush lightly moistened with water, brush the tops and sides of the macaroons, gently pressing down on them to form smooth rounds about 1/2 inch thick and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. (I skipped this step. Mine seemed to flatten out just fine by themselves.)

3. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the macaroons are pale golden. They should feel crisp on the outside but still soft inside. (If using two cookie sheets, rotate them from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking.) Remove the sheets from the oven and slide the parchment onto racks. Cool for about 5 minutes, then use a thin metal spatula to remove the macaroons from the paper. Place on rack to cool.

4. For chocolate-dipped macaroons, melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring frequently, until fully melted. Alternatively, melt it in a microwave-safe bowl in microwave, using 20-to-30-second bursts at medium power, stirring well after each interval. Line baking sheet with wax paper. With a silicone pastry brush, brush the melted chocolate on half the cookie, both top side and bottom, in a semicircle. Let the excess drip off or gently scrape it off the bottom using the brush. Place the macaroons on the wax paper and let stand until the chocolate is completely set.

Store macaroons in an airtight container, layered between sheets of wax paper, for up to five days at room temperature. Macaroons without chocolate can be frozen for up to two months.

Makes about 32 macaroons.


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