Friday, May 22, 2009

Apricot Almond Macaroons

I love to make cookies. So when I found a blog cooking club called Cookie Carnival, it seemed like a good fit. The first month the recipe was for a carrot cookie sandwiched with a cream cheese filling. My brother was visiting while I was making these cookies and gave me a cookie making tip to which I promptly replied I didn't need his tips as I was known for my cookies. A few minutes later, we open the oven door to find nearly one cookie sheet size cookie instead of the beautiful tender puffy cookies I was expecting. I scraped my pride off the floor and the cookies off the sheet while my brother howled with laughter. The cookies tasted fantastic, but most definitely were not blog worthy.

The next month a promising recipe for a lemon bar with an almond shortbread cookie arrived in my inbox. I quickly put it together but knew that the custard filling was too thin. I tried to thicken it with some flour and ended up with an edible, but underwhelming bar that was not blog worthy.

I wasn't terribly excited about May's recipe for Hazelnut Macaroon Sandwiches but pressed ahead, choosing to substitute hazelnuts with almonds and ganache with apricot jam since almond-apricot is one my fave flavor combinations. I'm glad I decided to make these cookies because the process, while at first glance appears intimidating, was fairly simple and the results were great. Dainty little almond studded puffs sandwiching sweet, sticky apricot jam.

I regularly cook food with the intention of posting about it here, but don't because the results are less than expected, the food is good but not pretty, or my pictures are not up to par. Each time I struggle with the decision to post or not to post because food and the cooking process are subjective and I learn as much from my mistakes as I do my successes. I subtitled this blog 'one girl's adventures in food' and adventures do not always have to follow a pretty path to be enjoyed or valuable. So, I may post my next ugly dish or my next failure in the interest of sharing this journey with you.

Almond Apricot Macaroon Sandwiches
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

4 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup ground almonds or almond flour
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 cup apricot jam

Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. Have ready a third rimless baking sheet, unlined.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until the whites begin to thicken. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until soft peaks form. Slowly add the superfine sugar and continue to beat until stiff, shiny peaks form. Beat in the vanilla until blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almonds or almond flour and confectioners' sugar until incorporated.

Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip. Pipe mounds 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the mounds 1 inch apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Let the cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 35 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, putting the cookie-filled baking sheet on top of the unlined baking sheet. (This insulates the top baking sheet so the cookie bottoms do not darken too much.) Bake until the tops and bottoms are firm and golden, 10 to 13 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, carefully lift the parchment, one end at a time, and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons water under the paper. Be careful that the steam does not burn you and that water does not splash on the cookies. (The steam loosens the cookies from the paper.) After 3 minutes, slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet, peel the cookies from the paper and transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Turn half of the cookies bottom side up. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam over the cookie bottoms. Press a plain cookie, bottom side down, onto the jam. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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  1. i'm glad you decided to try these. i knew some folks would be intimidated, but i like to think that the carnival stretches our boundaries now and then--it's good to remember we can do hard things in the kitchen!

  2. You ought to post your failures with pride. Not only do we learn from our mistakes but it allows us to share the path less travelled with those of us who have a sense of humour.

    Believe you me, this has been a journal in cooking; participating in the various blog carnivals and recipe exchanges.

  3. Your cookies look beautiful. Cooking and baking is a process. There are just so many variables. I think we learn more from our mistakes than our successes, so don't feel bad about them.

  4. Great job and no worries about baking mistakes, it happens to even the best cooks! I had fun making these and subbed my filling with a home made hazelnut chocolate spread. SO GOOD!

  5. OOOhhh, I've had my share of flops, too! You can say that at least you tried it. The only bad thing about a flop is the waste of food if it can't be eaten...and I've done that more times than I care to admit.

    I didn't have a chance to make these cookies because of moving to a new house and my kids being super busy with end of grade tests and activities. Yours look pretty!

    Good luck with this month's cookie!

  6. all of your recipes have looked great in photos and i really like your reviews. i can DEFINITELY relate since i'm a beginner baker too. did your brother share helpful baking tips in the end? i'm curious!


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