Macaroons, not to be confused with the popular and colorful macrons, are a type of cookie resembling a small cake, typically made from ground almonds or coconut. It’s name comes from the Italian maccarone or maccherone meaning “paste”, referring to the original almond paste ingredient.
Macaroons can be traced back to the 9th century in an Italian monastery. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, came to the monastery seeking asylum during the French Revolution. They paid their board by baking and selling macaroon cookies and became known as the “Macaroon Sisters”. Macaroons are especially popular during Passover since they have no flour or leavening (macaroons are leavened by egg whites).
Macaroons appear in recipe books as early as 1725 and have regional variations in Scotland, United States, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Spain, Puerto Rico, India, Ireland and Turkey. We’re celebrating this National Macaroon Day with Martha Stewart’s recipe that adds a citrus twist.
Pinched Orange Macaroons
YIELD: MAKES 5 DOZEN
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 pound almond paste
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for surface and coating
- 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Beat 1 egg white, the almond paste, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract with a mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add Grand Marnier and orange zest, and beat until combined, about 1 minute.
- Turn out dough onto a clean surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar, and roll into two 3/4-inch-thick logs, about 18 inches long. Cut each log crosswise into thirty 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
- Lightly beat remaining egg white. Brush onto each dough ball, and roll in sugar, tapping to remove excess. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently pinch each piece of dough with three fingers to form an irregular pyramid shape. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks, and let cool completely. (Macaroons can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.)