Crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, macaroons are believed to have originated in an Italian monastery in the 18th century. Carmelite nuns baked these regularly as they followed the principle: “Almonds are good for girls who do not eat meat”.
Called ‘amaretti’ in Italian, which means “little bitter things”, these small, dome-shaped cookies originated in Venice during the Renaissance. They were made from almonds or almond paste, sugar and egg whites that were flavoured with either chocolate or liqueurs. Almond paste is made from a mix of equal parts of ground, blanched almonds and sugar, mixed with glucose, corn syrup or egg whites. Being pliable, it is easy to make different shapes. Two macaroons can easily be sandwiched together with ganache, butter cream or even jam. Delicious when served with a sweet dessert wine, liqueurs or ice cream, amaretti completes a meal.
When it comes to baking, have all the ingredients at room temperature. Cookies should be of uniform thickness and size so they’ll bake in the same amount of time. A baking sheet should be either cool or at room temperature when the cookie dough is placed on it, or else the dough will start to melt. Unless the recipe calls for it, remove baked cookies from the sheet to a wire rack immediately to prevent further baking. Most macaroon cookies are fragile. Keep them small and they’ll hold together better.
Ingredients: 8 ounces almond paste at room temperature; 4 egg whites; 6 tbs granulated sugar; extra granulated sugar to sprinkle on the top
Method: Preheat oven to 325'F. Have butter paper-covered sheet pans ready. In a mixing bowl, beat almond paste until smooth. Add 2 egg whites and mix until smooth. Add 3 tbs sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the other 2 egg whites until frothy. Add 3 tbs sugar and beat until stiff, but soft and glossy peaks form. Fold into the almond mixture. Scoop the batter and spoon onto the baking sheets. Sprinkle with the sugar and bake until evenly golden. Allow to cool before removing the macaroons from the sheet.