May 10, 2011

Almond macaroons

I don't know who invented macaroons but it's genius.  When I say macaroons, a few things come to mine but I'm talking in general about that cookie with a crackly, somewhat crisp, outer shell that gives way to chewiness in the center.  I love to make this simple almond macaroon that's packed with almond flavor.  It's another cookie on my personal top-ten list.

This cookie gets its great flavor from almond paste, which I love in cookies and cakes.   I started making this cookie about a year ago and I just crave it every so often for that fragrant, sweet almond flavor and that chewy texture.  This cookie is similar to the one featuring pignoli or pine nuts that we see often in Italian bakeries.  I haven't had a chance to try making the pignoli version since I'm hooked on this one but I'll get to it eventually.  This cookie is great with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

You only need 5 ingredients to make this cookie, not including a pinch of salt.  The star of the show is the almond paste - that is essentially the cookie itself.  Together with some powdered sugar and egg white to create that crackly shell, you get the almond macaroon.  Because it's all about the almond paste, it's imperative to buy a good quality almond paste!  I highly recommend this one from Love n Bake; I just love it.  Believe me on this.  I've made this recipe using the more readily available tube-shaped almond paste you see in the supermarket and I was sorely disappointed in the result.  The cookie had hardly any almond flavor.  A canister of Love n Bake almond paste runs about $10 so it's not cheap but so worth it if you love this cookie.  I've found it occasionally at Whole Foods and I buy it online.
It's only a few steps to get this cookie ready for the oven.  I like to use the entire 10 oz. container of almond paste whenever I make this cookie so I adjust the recipe accordingly (the recipe you'll find in the link at the end of this post uses 4 oz. of almond paste).  I get about 2 dozen cookies out of the 10 ounces but you can stretch it out to about 2.5-3 dozen if you make them a bit smaller than I do.  Use up all the almond paste since these cookies go quickly!

To begin, I put 10 ounces of the almond paste, 1 and 1/4 cups of confectioners' sugar, a couple pinches of coarse salt, and 2 and a half egg whites (I know using 2.5 egg whites is odd but it works) into the bowl of your stand mixer.  You just want to mix it on medium speed for about 3 minutes until the almond paste is broken up and it looks crumbly in texture.
Once it gets to this crumbly stage, I add the egg whites and 2/3 teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix it together for about 3-4 minutes until it's thickened enough to be spooned or scooped out (it shouldn't be too runny).
It's pretty much done!  I scoop the batter out using a small ice-cream scoop.  Again, you could scoop them out a bit smaller about a tablespoon at a time to yield more cookies.  As a last touch, place a few almond slices on top of each scoop of cookie dough.
If you are making the entire canister of almond paste, you'll need 2 baking sheets lined in parchment.  Pop the sheets into a preheated 300 degree oven for about 25 minutes. 
When they are done, the tops are crackly and the bottom and sides are slightly browned.
Try and let the cookies cool thoroughly (a good 20 minutes or so) in the cookie sheet before removing.  This way, the bottom of the cookies will come off the sheet intact and nice and golden brown.  I usually can't wait to eat these cookies so I start trying to remove them too early and end up with ripped bottoms on the cookies.
Our little one is a fan of these cookies.  He downed about 5 of them once they were ready and we had to stop him from having a few more.

The recipe:

Almond Macaroons
From Martha Stewart

- Makes only 10 to 12 cookies so I recommend doubling up the recipe -

4 ounces almond paste (I use Love 'n Bake brand)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Put almond paste, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until almond paste and sugar are combined and mixture is crumbly, about 3 minutes.  Add egg white and vanilla.  Continue mixing for about 3 minutes, until mixture is smooth and thickened.

Drop batter by tablespoons (I use a small level ice cream scoop) onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  Place 2-3 almond slices on top of each mound of dough. 

Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.

Let cookies cool completely on wire racks before removing.  They will release easily when they are completely cooled.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


  1. Dear Monica,
    Thanks so much for the lovely recipe. We appreciate it. Your macaroons look delicious the almonds placed so artfully on top of the dough before baking. Best of luck with your blog.

  2. Hi Priscilla,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment! The Bake n Love almond paste really is terrific!

  3. Wow !What an amazing blog.
    Its one of the best blog.
    Nice blog on almond paste.
    Keep going...



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