I’m a macaroon lover from way back. I’m not talking about macarons, the French sandwich cookies made with beaten egg whites. Macaroons do contain egg whites, but they’re simply stirred into the other ingredients. Coconut macaroons are among my favorites—chewy and sweet and altogether a pleasure to eat. But what about almonds?
I just adore almonds, so I decided to see how they’d work in macaroons. I wanted a cookie that was crunchy, yet chewy and had chocolate in it. And I wanted to keep the recipe simple.
Food processor to the rescue! I ground the almonds with unsweetened chocolate and sugar until they formed a fine meal. This I dumped into a large bowl. To hold everything together, I stirred in egg whites with almond and vanilla extracts.
I shaped 24 macaroons, rolling pieces of dough between my palms to form balls, and baked them briefly in a moderate oven. The baking wizard found that timing is the crucial factor—in this case, less is more.
The cookies have crisp outsides and chewy insides and are delightfully bittersweet. When you want just a bit of something sweet—with chocolate—these macaroons are it.
Chocolate Almond Macaroons
The key to chewy macaroons is not to overbake them. Even if you don’t think they’re done in 9 minutes, they are.
8 ounces unblanched almonds (skins left on)
1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely cut
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you’re not sure of your oven’s temperature, use an oven thermometer. You’ll need a large cookie sheet—14 x 18 or 14 x 17-inches. I recently discovered the USA Pan cookie sheet, which has a ribbed surface and is nonstick. I can set the balls of dough right on the sheet—no greasing and no pan liners—and after the cookies have cooled for about 15 minutes, they’ll come right off. (Full disclosure: I have no commercial relationship with USA Pan. I just like their products).
Line a regular large cookie sheet with parchment, non-stick baking pan liner, or aluminum foil.
Put the almonds and chocolate into the work bowl of a food processor.
Add the sugar and process about 1 minute, until the nuts and chocolate are finely ground. Stop once or twice to scrape the sides of the work bowl.
Transfer the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites with both extracts in a small bowl. Add to the nuts and chocolate and stir well with a fork just until everything forms large clumps.
Keep stirring until the dough holds together.
If the dough feels tacky, leave it alone for a few minutes until the lidquid is completely absorbed.
Here’s how to make evenly-sized macaroons. On a sheet of waxed paper, pat the dough into a 6 x 4-inch rectangle 1-inch thick.
Score the dough into 24 1-inch squares and cut to release.
Roll each square of dough into a ball and set the balls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake 9 minutes—no longer!—until macaroons are set. If you reach into the oven and touch one, it will feel very soft, but it is done. Remove the pan from the oven and cool it on your countertop for 15 minutes.
Dislodge the cookies, replace them on the sheet, and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. These are best when very fresh. They’ll keep well in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days. Or you can freeze them solid and store them in airtight freezer bags for up to 1 month. Thaw the macaroons in their bag.
Makes 24 macaroons.