Almond macaroons

I was bracing for a tortuous journey, recipe testing my way back to a niggling childhood memory: the almond macaroons from the health food shop close to our school in Sussex — seriously — in that faraway decade before I was even a teenager. I remember their sweetness and texture, it was practically like eating marzipan, with a  compulsive chewiness from lightly caramelized rims. And in my memory, they were enormous.

I’d planned the macaroon journey before, some years ago. I made one improvised attempt that was actually quite good, if I remember well. And that was that.

This time I perused all of my books. I found a recipe in Alice Medrich’s cookie bible Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy. And that is that. I have found another perfect macaroon. Not, as I’d intended, by patient trial and error, incremental recreation, milligram by milligram of sugar. I haven’t the patience, there is no time. These days, when it comes to cooking, I shoot from the hip.

So these are not the macaroons of my childhood, but perhaps some memories are best left unperturbed.

Almond macaroon recipe by Alice Medrich
I’ve changed the quantities slightly and I like to use whole almonds rather than blanched

250g almonds (whole or blanched)
330g sugar
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
3 to 4 large egg whites (to be added progressively)

Process the almonds (either whole or blanched depending on taste and practicality) and the sugar together in a food processor until very fine and starting to pack together on the sides, at least 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the almond extract and 2 of the egg whites. Process briefly, for a few seconds, until the mixture starts to form a lump around the blade.

Continue to add egg white little by little, until the dough, as Alice Medrich so perfectly describes it ‘has the consistency of very thick, sticky mashed potatoes.’

Drop spoonfuls of batter 2 inches (5 cm) apart onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Alice Medrich suggests heaped teaspoons, I like to use tablespoons for bigger cookies.

Let the cookies stand for 30 minutes before baking (if pressed for time it is ok to skip this resting period).

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes until they just begin to turn brown on the edges.

Let cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.

If you can manage, don’t eat them immediately, like all things almond they improve overnight and will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container (after which they start to lose chewiness and flavour).

2 Responses to “Almond macaroons”

  1. Michelle Says:

    To recreate my childhood memory of macaroons (my grandfather’s favorite), I generally just use whatever recipe is on the almond paste box … which isn’t at all bad, though achingly sweet. Medrich’s recipes are always brilliant. I must try hers or your variation.

    • valerie Says:

      Yes, I found the macaroons made from almond paste (from Nadine Levy Redzepi’s Downtime) quite a bit too sweet. These ones are, if anything, the opposite! One day I will have the time and patience to tinker and achieve another perfect iteration.

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