Let’s talk macaroons. They are after all the hot cookie of the day.
Seen in magazines, upscale bakeries and as a sweet treat at the end of an elegant meal, they are actually a simple cookie.
A true macaroon is a small cookie classically made of almond paste or ground almonds (or both) mixed with sugar and egg whites. Almond macaroons can be chewy, crunchy or a combined texture with the outside crisp and the inside chewy. Adding nuts or chocolate and coconut to the recipe just makes them more delicious.
The macaroon is a close cousin to the meringue, but the meringue tends 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 flavor than ground almonds. Macaroons made without paste tend to be light and airy with a delicate crust.
There are two key tricks to making macaroons at home. The first is making the egg white foam with tons of volume, and the second is to have the consistency of batter so that it doesn’t run or spread too much. A spoonful of batter should stay put on the pan without spreading a lot. If the batter doesn’t cooperate, 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.
EZ Coconut Macaroons
3 large egg whites, room temperature (room temperature is important)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (or more as needed)
Grease a baking sheet well if you are not using parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the egg whites in a 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 be so that a spoonful will stand as a mound 3/4 inch 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 2 dozen.
Macaroon Fudge Bars
Store-bought macaroons make this treat easy and simple.
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, melted
1 cup unsalted butter or unsalted margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups lightly packed quartered or coarsely chopped macaroons (any brand or flavor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. In a pan melt, the chocolate and butter or margarine over low heat. Cool to room temperature. Stir in brown sugar, sugar, eggs, flour and corn starch. Stir in macaroon pieces. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake about 40 to 50 minutes, until top seems set and is beginning to take on a crackled 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.
Apricot Macaroon Bars
Most apricot bars have a cookie crust, but these are a cross between a light coconut cake and macaroons. You can use other dried fruits for a different flavor.
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup toasted coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For crust: 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 until combined. Beat in eggs and almond extract. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in coconut. Spread the batter into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan Bake for 25 minutes.
For filling: In a saucepan combine the dried apricots and water. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until apricots are tender. Stir in brown sugar. Cook and stir until 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 more. Cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. Cut into bars. Makes 30 to 36.