Saturday, December 10, 2011

No, Really....THESE Cookies AREN'T That Bad for You!!!!

In a world filled with buttery, eggy, fattening cookies, these are actually pretty healthy. They are a four ingredient wonder: almonds, egg whites, sugar, and almond flavoring. Who knew so few ingredients could yield such yummyness? And they have the added bonus of being gluten free if you or a friend or family member is sensitive. The secret to these is to just barely cook them...they should be lightly browned but still soft in the center. Normally cookies so soft would be impossible to get off the cookie sheet, but this recipe calls for them to be baked on aluminum foil. Additionally, I came up with the idea of freezing them while still attached to the foil, to make it even easier to peel the foil off the cookie (without leaving that delicious center behind). In my next post I'll tell you what to do with the leftover egg yolks (a decidedly UNHEALTHY cookie, but also delicious). It's all about balance... 

Almond Macaroons

Makes about 100 cookies
Oven Temperature: 375°

36 oz. whole almonds (by weight) or 6-3/4 cups (by volume)
3 cups sugar
8 tsp. almond extract
8 egg whites

Process 1/3 of the almonds with 1/3 of the sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Pour into mixer bowl. Repeat with remaining almonds and sugar. Blend in remaining ingredients with flat beater. Drop teaspoons of dough (or use a tiny ice cream scoop) onto ungreased, aluminum foil lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes until lightly browned, but still soft in center. Slide foil off cookie sheets and onto tray. Place tray into freezer and allow cookies to cool completely on foil (at least an hour). When completely cold, peel foil carefully off bottom of cookies. If cookies still break up, return foil to freezer until cookies are frozen solid and try again. Store in an airtight container.

Notes & Pointers:
These cookies couldn’t be simpler to make. Just be sure not to overcook them (they should still be soft in the center) and make sure they’re absolutely cold before peeling the foil off the cookies. If you want to freeze the leftover yolks, add one tablespoon of sugar to the 8 yolks, stirring gently to combine. Freeze in a tightly sealed and labeled container. Just remember when using them in a sweet recipe to reduce the amount of sugar by one tablespoon. If you are going to use them in a savory recipe rather than a dessert recipe, add 1 teaspoon of salt instead and remember to reduce the salt in the recipe when using them. Defrost the yolks in the fridge and use as soon as they defrost. Generally when I make these Almond Macaroons, I make the "companion cookie" (Hand Grenade Cookies) the same day. Neither cookie is very labor intensive and that way I get two Christmas cookies done at the same time.

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