In early October, we’ll be busy helping prepare items for a moderately-sized party. Just little things. The kind that people can pick up and eat right out of hand. A few cookies, some mini savory items — you know what we mean. But, that also means that we need to test out a few things prior, and, one of those things is how well macaroons will freeze.
We like the idea of macaroons because they offer a naturally gluten-free treat for those who want one. We will, however, have a lot to do the day of the event, so we wanted to see if they would freeze well enough that we could make them several days in advance. That means making up a batch of almond macaroons and freezing a few, then testing each day to see how they’re holding up. Oh, well, if we must.
Rather than just go with almond macaroons for the test, we decided to change it just a bit and make them chocolate, too. It’s an easy modification of the Almond Macaroon recipe we published long ago.
As an aside, we also tried making them smaller, checked to see if they would pipe well, and tested silicone baking mats versus baking parchment. From all this, we recommend piping the batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment.
Blanched almonds are almonds that have had the brown outer coating removed. For this recipe, it really won’t matter, as the cocoa will cover up any brown flecks; if blanched almonds are difficult to find or too expensive, go with plain (unsalted) raw almonds. We suggest using Dutch-processed cocoa because it’s generally darker and less bitter, but we think ordinary cocoa will be okay, too. Maybe just not as chocolaty tasting. On the eggs, we try to be sticklers and buy eggs that came from true pastured hens. You might not notice when you switch to pastured eggs, but you’ll notice the difference when you try to switch back to the ordinary store eggs. But, as with all recipes, get what works for you.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment (recommended) or silicone baking mats (second choice).
Separate eggs. We call out this step just to let you know that you want to separate the white from the yolk while the eggs are cold. The yolks are less likely to break when they’re cold, but, if one does, and you get a bit of yolk in with the whites, don’t worry. This recipe doesn’t rely on whipping the egg whites. Now, what to do with the egg yolks? We’d suggest fresh pasta, ice cream, or pudding. All of these can use extra yolks.
Grind almonds. Place the almonds, sugar, cocoa, salt, and almond extract into the bowl of a food processor. We like to measure the ingredients by weight; that way, we can place the food processor bowl on the scale, and just add ingredients until we get the right amount. No need to dirty up measuring cups. Once measured into the bowl, process until the almonds are ground into a fine meal. Well, a meal that looks somewhat like corn meal. It’ll take about 2 minutes.
Add egg whites. With the processor running, slowly add the egg whites and process until you have a paste, about 30 seconds. That’s it, your cookie batter is done. If you have one, transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip (or the end cut off to make a 1/2-inch opening). If not, you can use a gallon freezer bag with a corner cut off as a piping bag. Otherwise, you’ll have to scoop.
Pipe. Pipe out the dough, forming circles about an inch in diameter, with about 1 1/2 inches between each cookie. The batter won’t spread much, but you want hot air to circulate around the cookies while they bake. If you’re not piping the batter, use level teaspoons of batter mounded up on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake until the tops of the cookies are dry and slightly firm, and the edges are starting to brown ever so slightly, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Cool. If you’re using parchment, just lift it off, cookies and all, and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before popping off the cookies. Otherwise, use a thin spatula to lift the cookies off and transfer to a cooling rack.
We really like how easy these cookies are; they’re a great way to use up leftover egg whites, but, they could use just a bit more chocolate flavor. Next time we make them, we’ll probably add more cocoa, maybe another 5 grams or so. Not so much that it’ll make the dough thick, but just enough to give the cookies a boost of chocolate flavor. We also like that these cookies are gluten-free without the need to buy special flours. We do know some people who avoid gluten; these macaroons will work for them, and we don’t need to buy any special or hard-to-find ingredients. And, just so you know, these cookies seem to freeze just fine, which is what we wanted to know. We’ll give them four stars.