Sunday, December 12, 2010

Almond Macaroons

I love macaroons.  I know they're really trendy right now, but I've always loved their chewy goodness.  Yum.  One of the great things about macaroons is that they're a gluten-free friendly dessert.  The cookies themselves are little more than almonds, sugar, and egg whites.  I've made them half dipped in chocolate for a pretty half moon look.  Today I made the more traditional macaroons sandwiched around a swiss meringue cream.
To make the cookies I placed 3 cups of slivered almonds in my food processor.

After processing the almonds into a fine meal, I added 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar and a pinch of salt and then pulsed to combine.
In my mixer bowl, I beat 6 egg whites with my whisk attachment until they were foamy and gradually sprinkled in 1/2 cup sugar.
When the egg whites reached soft peaks, I beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract, and a few drops of green food color.  I then folded in the almond mixture.

I transferred the mixture to a pastry bag and piped out small circles(about 2 inches) on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
You can smooth out the tops of the macaroons with a wet pastry brush or brand new paint brush dipped in water.
Bake these at 300 for 25 minutes.  They're done when the bottoms are firm and can be lifted from the parchment paper.
Once they've cooled, you can make the swiss meringue cream.  Do you know the difference between a swiss meringue and a french meringue?  The swiss is pulled together over heat and finished with fat, traditionally butter, but I used shortening.  A swiss meringue is just so much more decadent.

Start by simmering water in a medium saucepan.
Place the bowl to your stand mixer in the saucepan.  Whisk 3 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in the mixing bowl.  Whisk constantly until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch about 100 degrees.
Attach the mixer bowl to the stand mixer.  (yes, I have 2 stand mixers.  What can I say, I'm spoiled.)  With your whisk attachment, beat the whites on 8(medium high) until they are stiff, but not dry. 

With the mixer still going, add 1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening a couple tablespoons at a time, waiting until each addition has been incorporated before dropping in a bit more.  After adding all of the shortening and mixing,  the filling should be fluffy and glossy and the mixer bowl should be cool to the touch.   Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 shot of ameretto.  Mix thoroughly.  Even though this "cream" is dairy free, Snuggle Bunny declared that it tasted like whipped cream and was glad to lick the bowl afterwards.
Spread a thick layer of the swiss meringue cream on half of the macaroons and sandwich with the other half.  Mine aren't as pretty as the store bought ones, but they're just as tasty.

Thanks for popping in and looking in on my 12 days of cookies, only a few more cookies to go.  I promise I have some non-cookie projects to share coming up soon(1 of which is a knitting project.) I'm linking this up to The Sensitive Pantry's Calling All Cookies party, Gluten-Free Homemaker's Gluten-Free Wednesdays, and Joyful Housewife's Mouthwatering Monday.

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