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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Macaroons: a classic cookie

Tags: Food
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A true macaroon is small cookie classically made of almond paste or ground almonds (or both) mixed with sugar and egg whites, said to have originated in Italy although the French try to claim it as their invention as well.

Almond macaroons can be chewy, crunchy or a combined texture with the outside crisp and the inside chewy. Adding nuts and/or chocolate and coconut to the recipe just makes them more delicious.

The macaroon is a close cousin to the meringue, but the meringues tend to be crisper and the macaroons chewier. If a macaroon is overbaked, it tends to become dry and crumbly. Most modern day recipes for macaroons include almond paste to create body in the cookie as well as adding a more intense flavour than ground almonds. Macaroons made without paste tend to be light and airy with a delicate crust. French and Italian macaroons are made with almond paste piped into a round shape with frosting holding two macaroons together

There are two key tricks to making macaroons at home. The first is to make the egg white foam with tons of volume, and the second is to have the consistency of the batter such that it doesn’t run or spread too much. A spoonful of batter should stay put on the pan without spreading too much. If the batter doesn’t co-operate add more nuts or coconut.

Getting macaroons to release from the cookie sheet can be a challenge. Most recipes call for baking on parchment and then peeling the cookies from it shortly after they are removed from the oven. This is good advice: use the parchment paper. You can use a well-greased baking sheet, but you’ll have to use a thin metal spatula to remove the cookies immediately upon taking them out of the oven. Be warned – if the macaroons are undercooked, the centres will be soft and gooey and tough to get unstuck from the parchment paper.

If you don’t want to take the time to make individual macaroons, try making a macaroon bar type of cookie, changing the kind of nuts you use or adding coconut (note if the coconut is sweetened, you may want to cut back on the sugar in the recipe.) If you feel like it, you can add different extracts and chopped dried fruits.

 

Easy Coconut Macaroons

 

o 3 large egg whites, room temperature (room temperature is important)

 

o 1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (optional)

 

o 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

 

o 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (or more as needed)

 

Grease a baking sheet very well if you are not using parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Place the egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer and beat until the foam forms stiff, glossy peaks. Add the extract if using. With a spatula, fold in the powdered sugar and nuts at the same time until just combined.

Spoon the batter onto the prepared pan in rounded mounds. The batter’s consistency should allow a spoonful to stand as a mound 3/4-in. high and about 1-1/2 to 2 inches across. If the batter is too thin and runny, add more coconut. Bake for 15 minutes for small to medium-sized cookies, 18 minutes for larger cookies, or until the cookies are a light brown. Immediately remove the cookies from the oven and then remove them from the pan. Let cool on a rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

Apricot Macaroon Bars

 

Crust:

o 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

o 1 cup sugar

o 2 eggs

o 1/4 tsp. almond extract

o 1 1/2 cups cake meal

o 1 cup coconut

 

Filling:

o 1 1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped

o 1 cup water

o 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

o 1/2 tsp. vanilla

o 1/3 cup toasted coconut

 

 

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and beat till combined. Beat in eggs and almond extract. Beat in as much of the cake meal as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining cake meal with a wooden spoon. Stir in coconut. Spread the batter into a greased 9X13-in. pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

 

 

In a saucepan combine the dried apricots and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 7 to 8 minutes, or till apricots are tender. Stir in brown sugar. Cook and stir till sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Spoon the filling over the hot crust. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top. Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. Cut into bars. Makes 30 to 36.

 

Mixed Up Macaroons

 

o 3 egg whites

o 1/4 tsp. salt

o 1 cup sugar

o 1/2 cup ground almonds

o 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

o 6 oz. (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips, melted, cooled

 

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 cookie sheets or use parchment paper. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. Beat in the sugar, a little at a time, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Mixture should stand in peaks. By hand, fold in the almonds, vanilla and melted chocolate. Drop chocolate macaroons by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes about 48 chocolate macaroons.

 

Macaroon Fudge Bars

 

Store bought macaroons make this treat easy and simple.

 

 

o 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted

 

o 1 cup unsalted butter or unsalted margarine

o 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

 

o 1 tbsp. sugar

 

o 3 eggs

 

o 3/4 cup matzah cake meal

 

o 1/4 cup potato starch

 

o 1 1/2 cups lightly packed quartered or coarsely chopped macaroons (any brand or flavour)

 

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9x13-in. pan. In a pot, melt the chocolate and butter or margarine over low heat. Cool to room temperature. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla sugar, eggs, flour and starch. Stir in macaroon pieces. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake about 40-50 minutes, until top seems set and is beginning to take on a cracked appearance. Do not overbake. Brownies should be set and seem dry to touch - but there should not be a dry crust around sides. Makes 24. Leave plain or glaze.

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