A Cookie Perfect for Any Occasion

There could be worse quandaries than trying to successfully celebrate Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year on the exact same day this year.

But after much hunting, I think I’ve found the perfect cookie to sweeten both holidays memorably.

“Pinched Orange Macaroons” is from the December 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. These dainty, two-bite delights first caught my eye because they use my favorite ingredient of almond paste.

Egg whites lighten them, giving them a crunchy exterior that gives way to a very chewy center. Almond paste plus almond extract up the nutty factor. Fresh grated orange zest and a splash of Grand Marnier give them a perky, wake-me-up citrus jolt, even more so because I added some King Arthur Orange Emulsion that I happened to have on hand. The emulsion, of which I received a sample, is a concentrated orange flavoring stronger than regular extract.

What I especially love about these powdered sugar-dusted cookies is that they look like those fancy little mignardises that arrive at your table to soften the blow just before the check does at swank, white table-cloth restaurants.

With oranges a symbol of sweetness and wealth in Asian cultures, these cookies make the perfect treat for the Lunar New Year. And with their rustic kiss-like shape, they’re innocently romantic enough for Valentines of any age.

These macaroons are sure to make both holidays doubly delectable.

Pinched Orange Macaroons

(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

3/4 teaspoon orange emulsion (optional)

1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Grand Marnier, Cointreau 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, almond extract, and orange emulsion (if using) 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. The dough will be quite sticky. Roll into two 3/4-inch-thick logs, about 18 inches long. Cut each log crosswise into 30 (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.

Note: Macaroons can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

– Adapted from a recipe from Patrick Lemble, executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, as published in Martha Stewart Living, December 2009

More: Orange Butter Cookies

More: Two recipes for Chinese Almond Cookies

More: Italian Macaroons

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Date: Monday, 8. February 2010 5:22
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Favorite Cookie Recipes, Fruit, General

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28 comments

  1. 1

    Those cookies look and sound perfect indeed!

  2. 2

    Yum! They look and sound terrific! I love the combination of the orange and almond flavors here!

  3. 3

    These look gorgeous and so elegant! I definitely need to give them a go.

  4. 4

    Carolyn, did you purchase your large quantity of almond paste at a conventional grocery? That’s a lot of almond paste! I wish everyone else in the house liked macaroons.

  5. 5

    Sophia: Yes, I did buy my almond paste at a regular supermarket, much to the dismay of my husband who knows how expensive almond paste can be. But I tell him that it could be far worse as there are many other “addictions” that are far pricier. ;)
    If you’re having trouble finding almond paste, you can usually get it in a gourmet grocery store, or any market that stocks a lot of Italian products. Also, Cost Plus carries it. And in a pinch, you can make your own, too: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/almond-paste/Detail.aspx or http://allrecipes.com/recipe/almond-paste/Detail.aspx.

  6. 6

    Those look and sound fantastic! I love baked goods that taste of orange…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. 7

    What’s an orange emulsion?

  8. 8

    Oh! I still have to try to make macarons…yours looks so cute and love the idea of orange flavor…yummie Great picture!

  9. 9

    “Macaroons can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.”

    You’re speaking hypothetically there, right?

    I’m away from my home kitchen for a while, and it’s a darn good thing because I’ve got every ingredient for these right in my pantry. Thanks for another “must-make” bookmark, Carolyn :-)

  10. 10

    Thank you for the link and sources for almond paste. I have not seen it in stores and would love to play around with it in the kitchen. Combined with the orange flavor these cookies would be a perfect place to start!

  11. 11

    You and your cookies, Carolyn! Thank you for another good looking recipe. I made your Italian Macaroons back around Christmas time, and they were spectacular! I expect these should be similarly delicious. I ended up making my own almond paste, but it was much more difficult than I expected. I put blanched almonds, egg whites, and powdered sugar into my cuisinart according to an internet recipe, and nearly burned out the motor! What resulted was a very thick paste that wasn’t smooth – it was chunky like chunky peanut butter, which was fine with me, it tasted great! In the future, however, I think I’ll grind the nuts separately in my cuisinart to make almond butter, and then combine with egg whites and sugar in my kitchenAid, which has a lot more torque. It is no wonder that store-bought almond paste is 3x the price of whole almonds – it is not trivial to make!

    And these cookies can store for a week? Phhht – they’ll be gone within a day at my house!

  12. 12

    OK, just when I thought I was straightened out about the difference between “Macaroons” and “Macarons” these show up without coconut? WAAAH

  13. 13

    Carroll: They also freeze well in a zip-lock bag…well, if there are any left to freeze. Hah.

    Tuty: Just click on the link for the King Arthur Orange Emulsion in the post and you’ll see what the bottle looks like. It’s like a very concentrated orange extract.

    Of course, that’s totally optional to use. It was my own addition to the recipe. And actually, a friend on Facebook commented on the recipe and had another wonderful suggestion: Orange Flower Water as an addition.

  14. 14

    You can also get almond paste in ‘bulk’ at the Milk Pail in Mountain View. I don’t know if it’s that much cheaper than at a regular supermarket. It’s one of those things you just have to get and not pay attention to the cost, because it’s such a yummy ingredient!

  15. 15

    Uzbekcelia: Good tip about the Milk Pail in Mountain View!

    Someone on Facebook asked if one could use orange oil in this recipe. I’m thinking you could, but just go easy on the amount since oils are so very concentrated. And before any goofballs ask, “No, you cannot use Agent Orange” in these cookies. =)

  16. 16

    Yum! Love the taste of almonds. We’re slowly moving down a cookie path here (I’m hoping my girth won’t be, too).

  17. 17

    omg. THAT is my perfect cookie texture. Crunchy, kinda crispy, sort of chewy, and light. Perfect, perfect, perfect!

  18. 18

    Oh wow, I just bought these gorgeous mandarins for the Lunar New Year. I guess I know where some of those will be going to ;)

  19. 19

    I’m not normally into macaroons (you know, the cloyingly sweet rock-like coconut ones), but these look fantastic. I’m gonna have to look into that orange emulsion as it sounds a lot easier/better than zesting an orange.

  20. 20

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CarolynJung and kaeriey hutchinson, nadine nelson. nadine nelson said: RT @CarolynJung: Chewy Orange macaroons for Lunar New Year AND Valentine's Day. http://bit.ly/axF0D2 [...]

  21. 21

    these little beauties definitely qualify as fancy-shmancy, but bonus–they’re totally doable! and really, there just aren’t enough orange-tinged desserts. :)

  22. 22

    Oh, no two-bites for me! These would go down with just one! The one-two punch of both crunchy/chewy texture and orange/almond flavor sounds amazing. [Sighs]

  23. 23

    your cookies look so delicate and delicious. i’m sure people won’t mind the white powder all over their face when they eat this!

  24. 24

    These sound so tasty, I cannot wait to try this recipe out. I love the flavor combo – almonds and orange – perfect with a bit of tea.

  25. 25

    [...] I saw these cookies, I instantly thought I must make these.  No thoughtful deliberation among the other recipes I have [...]

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    [...] More Orange Tastes: Pinched Orange Macaroons [...]

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    [...] More Cookie Recipes: Pinched Orange Macaroons [...]

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    [...] And: Pinched Orange Macaroons [...]

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