Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Essence of MacarOOns

It seems there's a bit of confusion when it comes to macaroons and their cousins. From where I stand, it seems there are two things. One of them looks like a little pile of dessicated coconut, usually dipped or drizzled in chocolate. That's what I'm making.

The other one looks like a fluorescent hamburger made of meringue. That is not what I'm making.

I think there is a bit of an America/UK divide in the naming of them. Because according to a lot of the internet (i.e., America), the fluorescent hamburgers are called macarOns, while the coconut piles are called macarOOns. This makes sense to me. But when I said macarOOn to British people, they all thought I meant fluorescent hamburgers.

For the purposes of this blog, until I get further information, I'll be using the single/double 'O' to distinguish them. So. Today is macaroons. Maybe I'll do macarons one day.

They're actually really easy, and I don't know why I didn't think to make them before, because I really like them. I love coconut, and chocolate, and almond and they're just generally delicious.

The ratio is simple. I do seem to say that about everything, but that's because it's normally true (it's kind of the point, after all).

To complicate things further, this kind of  'coconut pile' macaroon can also be made with almonds only. They end up looking like a biscuit, but they're still called a macaroon. It's all very confusing, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to simplify things by way of this ratio.

1 Egg White : 1 Sugar : 4 Nut

As you can see, I didn't specify the type of nut. (What's that? Neither almonds nor coconuts are technically nuts, they're seeds? Shhh.). This is because it doesn't matter. You could use entirely dessicated coconut, and you'd get a distinctive coconut-pile macaroon. You could use entirely ground almond, and you'd get something that looked like a biscuit.

In my case, I used roughly half-and-half. And the result still looked basically like a coconut macaroon, which is good. I think the ground almonds helped it to stay solid rather than fall apart like it might have done if it was only coconut. So if you want coconut macaroons, then unless you have a specific reason not to, I'd recommend you use half coconut and half ground almond.

  • Whisk together the sugar and egg whites until they're frothy. They don't have to be hugely whipped up, but they should be a bit airy.
  • Fold in the nuts. I say fold, because you want to try not to lose too much air from the egg white. Don't obsess about it, just be a bit gentle when you mix it in. I find a plastic or silicon spatula is the ideal implement for the job.
  • Portion it up and bake it. I tried a couple of different styles for mine. For half, I made piles and them carefully smoothed and rounded them out with spoons, so they were neat little hemispheres. For the other half I piled them up more scraggily, so they were uneven-surfaced pyramids. The style you go for is up to you. But you should keep it in mind when you bake them. As you can see from mine, the scraggy pyramids started going very dark on the uneven parts, while the smooth round ones stayed an even colour all over. You can bake them at 180C as usual, but keep a close eye on them. A lot of recipes said 15 or 20 minutes or more, but mine only needed about 10. I don't know if it's something I did, or something I didn't do, or just a random fluctuation, but anyway. Check them regularly, especially if their surface is uneven, because they will burn quickly when they do burn. It's easy to tell when they're done, because they look done. Nicely golden, going a little bit hard on the surface, but not brown or burnt.
  • As far as I'm concerned, if you don't finish them off with chocolate, you're doing it wrong. I half-dipped the smooth ones and drizzled over the scraggy ones.


  1. These look so good, I adore macaroons!!

  2. I'm with you - I love macarOOns! Yours look fabulous! Thanks for sharing! Nana Clare's Kitchen