Tuesday, April 19, 2011

macaroons... a foodie's version

macaroons are the best cookies ever.
i have loved them deeply, cautiously, ecstatically, excitedly and with flexibility. one never knows when or what occasion will harbor their deep complex nuttiness other than passover. however, as near candy as they are and as easy to make... well no reason not to make them year round.

i have been making them for quite a while... i would almost like to stop, however, it is something that the seder attendees seem to want year after year. and i am vain. i like the attention. so i go with what is "tradition". in fact, i have tried many recipes and no matter what, this simple recipe is the one i like to go to for the most flexibility and consistency. also you can adjust it to whatever makes you happiest. less sweet? lessen the amount of sugar added. flavor change? change the flavor. keep it simple? no problem.

so here is the magic recipe:
let me be very honest too. this is a MARTHA STEWART LIVING recipe.
adjusted within its simplicity for
extra yummy results.
1 3/4 c. sugar
5 1/4 c. unsweetened dried shredded coconut
(i buy this at whole foods... but it is also readily available at health food stores.
if unavailable, you can use the sweetened kind in the bag.
7 egg whites
(lazy and as unhappy to waste half of the eggs, i buy the egg whites in a carton product.
also available at whole foods. or health food stores.
i never waste the time to look at a conventional grocery store.
did i mention lazy?
but there are ways to deal with the leftover yolks.
later on this issue.)
pinch of salt
2 T melted unsalted butter
1 T vanilla
1 T almond extract
a dab of butter or margerine
parchment paper.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 degrees

1} in a large bowl, drop all the coconut and sugar in. mix it to completely combine. the coconut can be clumpy sometimes, so it is good to break it up now.
2} add salt, melted butter, egg whites, and extracts. mix this well with a large spatula until it is ridiculously evenly blended. you can let this sit for a few minutes so that the egg whites melt the sugar a bit. and mix again. this is a lot better when it is evenly moist. otherwise some of the egg white part will filter through. just keep mixing.
coconut intermixus.
3} SEE PHOTOS BELOW: prepare the parchment paper for baking. cut a piece a smidge larger than the pan you will use. fold neatly into 4ths.. open up and put a little dab of extra butter/margerine into or swipe the sheet with a stick. parchment is fabulous on release, but this will test it too much. i found that a slight amount of oiliness is great for a very easy release of the macaroons.
back to the paper, refold into 4ths and with the non folded corner, cut in with scissors on the diagonal. it need not be any specific length, but at least an inch or two will suit this perfectly.
put a tiny dab of butter/marg. in the corners of the baking pan and lay the paper on top of this. it will allow the paper to stick and miraculously, the paper ends will cross to create neat corners. no overflow is gonna soil your pans.
i use this technique for ALL rectilinear pans that need lining. also you can dust this paper with flour or cocoa and shake out over the trash or sink when making some kind of cake. spectacular results will ensue.
4} you can use a scoop or wet your fingers to make nice little haystack formed macaroons for your oven to bake up. you can place these on your prepared baking sheet pretty close together. they do not spread, they weep.
also, i am not as neat as i would like to be, but who is?

sweet little haystacks of macaroon goodness. ready for their oven vacations.
5} bake on lower rack for about 10 minutes. then rotate and put on the top rack to finish.
it is dependent upon how big or small you make your cookies that they will be done.
(this is what the macaroons look like when i like to rotate them front to back and put on the top rack to finish baking.)
photos show the relative brownness that are my method of saying when they are done.
this says DONE to me. the amount of brown is even and the bottoms of the macaroons are equally toastedly browned.

6} let sit on the pan for about 5 minutes to rest. then you can pluck them off of the paper to cool completely if that is your style. i like to let them cool almost completely on the baking sheet. there usually is some egg white that has oozed out. i have trimmed this with a knife or with kitchen scissors for neatness. i like that facsimile of neat that makes things look like the pictures of styled food. it fools folks into thinking you are a lot better at everything when things look so polished.
I just love that!!!
7} sit down and admire your lovely macaroons and wait for the compliments to flow in.
these can be stored in airtight containers for about 3 days. should they last that long.

Some Baking Circus Tricks:

1}take out the paper from the box it is pre-rolled in.
cut with scissors (that thing on the box side is pretty worthless for accuracy)
so that there is a little overage in the size of the paper to the size of the pan.
2} smear a stick of butter,margarine or a dab of either on an empty wrapper to cover the entire leaf of parchment paper.
3} fold into half, greased sides in.

4} fold in half again... to get quarters.

5} with all four corners stacked, cut into the corner( the one without any folds)
1-2 inches or so diagonally.

6} it looks like this...

7} open up the paper and put into the pan.
you can use a dab of butter in each corner of the pan to tack the paper to it.

8} cutting the corners of the paper and overlapping them creates a fairly well fitted pan liner. this is wonderful for cakes in rectangular or square pans and wet batter.
i use this for nearly every kind of baking.
clean-up has become a snap!

9} this is what the corners of a liner look like in a deeper pan, fyi

10} parchment is NOT a single use product.
it is so wonderful, it is used many times over by bakers. only when it becomes too brown and brittle, is it tossed or if it has been used for different baked products.
since i knew that i would make more than one tray of macaroons,
it is economical to plan on re-use of the paper.
for this, i smeared a little more butter on the paper.

11} it does not need to cover or be even when smeared on,
because you can fold it in half again or quarters even,
to then run your hands over the clean side of the paper
to squeegee the butter to all of the paper evenly.

12} i kind of used too much butter,
but you can see how it covers all of the paper pretty evenly now.
so this is ready to be filled all over again with domed haystacks of macaroon love.


PLAIN VANILLA: substitute the almond flavoring in master recipe with just vanilla extract.

Almond : add in some chopped sliced almonds, add in 1-2 t. extra almond extract .

LEMON: finely grated lemon peel added into the mix.

apres lemon grating and some tools...
raw lemon haystacks

chocolate: sift in 1/4 c. of good cocoa and mix until it is evenly distributed.

GINGER: bits of finely minced candied ginger can be added.

chocolate chunks or white chocolate chunks can be mixed in or melted to dip cookies into. then set them on a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Coffee/Espresso: instant espresson or coffee crystals are a nice addition to the lemon macs. in case you were wondering... the eggs melt them down...
giving a subtle coffee flavor into the mix

ok, now you need to try making some of your own.
let me know how it goes ok?



  1. These really look great and thanks for instructions on the parchment paper.

  2. Wonderful post. Passing along to my official baker / husband.