Friday, 1 November 2013

Old-Fashioned Almond Macaroons

This is such a simple recipe using only egg whites, caster sugar and almonds!

You don't even have to whisk the egg whites; you literally just mix the other ingredients into them. There is no denying that the biscuits are sweet - they are. But they are also delicious!

Whilst these biscuits use practically the same ingredients as French macarons and obviously have a similar taste profile, they are actually very different creatures. Compared to the frivolous, "look-at-me" character of French macarons with their sometimes garish colours and often bizarre flavour combinations, these biscuits are confident in their unfussiness and at most only tolerate the addition of a single blanched almond by way of decoration. I love French macarons, but sometimes I just crave the honest simplicity of these biscuits. Bit like life really.
 
I use a piping bag to pipe the mixture out onto the parchment lined baking trays prior to cooking, but in the interests of simplicity, you can of course use a spoon to pile blobs of the macaroon mixture onto the baking trays instead. Traditionally, rice paper would have been used to line the baking trays and excess removed from the biscuits after they had finished cooking. Rice paper is not that easy to come by these days, so I use baking parchment or silpat lined trays.

You don't have to place a blanched almond on top, but I like to do so because they toast slightly in the oven and add a different texture to the finished biscuits.

These are an old-fashioned type of biscuit; there are no airs and graces about them - they simply taste of almonds and are comfortingly crispy and chewy at the same time. They are quick to make and unless some self-restraint is shown (and I think I have none where these biscuits are concerned) quick to eat! One is never enough.

Do try to use almond extract as opposed to almond essence. I find that there is a distinct flavour difference between the two.
 
 
 

Ingredients:

150g ground almonds
200g caster sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp almond extract
12-16 blanched almonds

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160C/Fan 140/Gas Mark 3.
2. Place the ground almonds and caster sugar into a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the egg whites and almond extract and mix well together so that everything is well incorporated. You should have a thick past like mixture.
3. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle and pipe out 12-14 mounds of the macaroon mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place a single blanched almond onto the top of each mound.
4. Put into the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes but look at them after 15 minutes to check that they are not browning too much. They should be light golden colour and still look a little soft in the centre – they will harden up further when they cool.
5. Take out of the oven and once they are cool enough to handle remove them from the baking trays and leave to cool on a wire rack.
 
Make 12-14 biscuits.