I heart almonds. I heart cookies. I heart Paris. So the fact that I love the French version of macaroons should not be a surprise. I first tasted these delicate cookies when visiting my best friend in Paris more than 10 years ago. Now these are not the coconut confections that may first come to mind when hearing the word ‘macaroon’ but are sweets made with almonds that will almost melt in your mouth.
For my birthday this year, my best friend sent me a package of French macaroon cookies from a cute spot in NYC called Macaron Café. She had double checked with them that their versions of the cookies were gluten-free and had them deliver a special package to my apartment. (Yes I have wonderful friends, and I am constantly grateful for them)
This week I discovered another source for gluten-free French Macaroons a few blocks from my office at La Maison Du Chocolat. They have a little coffee shop in addition to their ‘take-home’ offerings. So yes, I can get chocolate, cappuccino and macaroons all in one place less than three minutes from my office. I can already tell this is going to be a dangerous temptation.
And since I know most of you don’t live in NYC, I also want to share a few recipes to make your own French Macaroon Cookies at home. They may not be as pretty as the ones you see here, but they are absolutely delicious with the crunchy exterior and chewy center you’ll find in the cookies at the bakeries.
Gluten-Free Macaroon Cookies Recipe FIVE ways (adapted from recipe on Delphi Forums Celiac Listerv)
Each recipe makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies
3 cups (12 ounces) blanched slivered almonds (measure without packing or shaking the cup)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon (3 large) egg whites
1 teaspoon gluten-free almond extract
Set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle levels of oven and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade, add the almonds and process 1 minute. Add sugar and process for 15 seconds. Add egg whites and almond extract and process until the paste wads around the blade. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl. Process again until stiff but cohesive, about 5 seconds longer. It should be similar in consistency to marzipan or pasta dough. If the mixture is crumbly or dry, turn machine back on and add water by drops through feeder tube until proper consistency is reached.
On the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, spoon just under 2 tablespoons of paste for each macaroon, spacing the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake macaroons, switching cookie sheet positions midway through baking, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. (If overbaked, macaroons will dry out rather quickly when stored.) Remove from oven and leave on parchment paper until completely cooled or they may tear.
Can be stored in an airtight container for at least 4 days or frozen up to 1 month.
Fudge Almond Macaroons
Follow recipe for Almond Macaroons, decreasing almonds to 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) and adding 1 cup dutch-processed cocoa and 1/4 teaspoon salt along with the sugar. The macaroons will be done when they have cracked lightly across the top.
Pine Nut-Crusted Almond Macaroons
You will need 2 to 3 extra egg whites and 2 1/2 to 3 cups pine nuts. Follow recipe for Almond Macaroons, rolling paste into balls between your palms. Dip each ball into a beaten egg whites, then roll in pine nuts, lightly pressing with your fingertips. Transfer cookies to baking sheet and flatten slightly with fingers, making inch-wide buttons.
Lemon Almond Macaroons
Follow recipe for Almond Macaroons, making the paste without water. Add 2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest (approx 2 large lemons) and process 10 seconds longer.
Pistachio Macaroon Button Gluten-Free Cookies Recipe
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
The skinning of pistachios is a nuisance, but there is no point in bother with this recipe unless it is done. Make sure to get pistachios that are raw or only lightly toasted. The flavor of these macaroons becomes more intense the day after baking
1 1/4 cups (about 6 ounces) shelled pistachios
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons (1 large) egg white
Boil pistachios hard in several quarts of water until skins begin to loosen, about 3 minutes. Drain nuts, then plunge into bowl of cold water. Let stand in water for a few minutes. Remove skins, tossing skinned nuts onto paper towel-lined tray.
Thoroughly dry skinned pistachios on baking sheet set in center position in 200 degree oven, approximately 45 minutes. Remove tray from oven before nuts begin to give off roasted aroma or take on any color. Increase heat to 325 degrees to preheat oven as you continue to prepare the cookies.
Set aside 48 pistachios. Turn remainder into bowl of food processor, fitted with the metal chopping blade, and grind fine. Add sugar, lemon zest, salt and process 1 minute longer. Add egg white and process until dough wads into moist clumps.
Roll dough into 1-teaspoon balls and arrange 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make dimple in center of each ball with moistened finger tip and press a reserved pistachio into each crater.
Bake cookies until they look try and have just begun to color, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set baking sheet on cooling rack. Let macaroons cool completely before peeling them off parchment paper.
For those of you not cooking:
Address: 161 West 36th Street (btw 7th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10018
La Maison Du Chocolat
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 49th Street between 5th and 6th Ave
New York, NY 10020
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