Monday, June 16, 2008

Multiplying Midnight Macaroons

Ok, what the heck? Why is it that every time I bake I end up with three times as much batter as the recipe claims to produce?? Two cookie sheets my ass. I ended up using two cookie sheets and three 8x13 in. baking pans (Don’t ask me why I have a shortage of cookie sheets and an abundance of baking pans... I also have an excessive five springform pans. Go figure). Of course, it’s always better to have too much than not enough, especially when it comes to food. I’ll never forget my siblings and I hovering around the dining room table as our mother unpacked steaming cartons of Chinese food from one lonely brown paper sack. Once the last carton was on the counter, we’d pounce like a pack of wolves, grappling for the serving spoon in an effort to get a decent portion. Don’t get me wrong, there was never a shortage of food in my house, but Chinese was a treat and we were greedy little monsters!

I, however, do not have five ravenous children waiting for my baked goods with baited breath. Tonight I happened to be alone, and baking on a whim. Needless to say, I have no use for a towering stack of macaroons, and my roommates have instituted a baking ban, claiming I have caused them to gain 10 pounds. Moral of that long-winded story: less is more! Maybe halving the recipe would be a good idea…

I got bored of macarooning midway through the second cookie sheet, but there seemed to be enough batter for an infinite number of cookies. Up at midnight, with a bowl of batter, madly plopping dollop after sticky-fingered dollop onto wax paper, I felt like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia with macaroons replacing multiplying brooms!

Due to the extraneous cookies, there was not enough chocolate filling to go around, so I opted to smooth a layer of rhubarb jam between the rest of the chewy-crisp, chocolaty discs. I actually preferred the bright bite of the jam paired with the macaroons’ mellow sweetness. Macaroons are to cookies what angel food is to cake. A thick, gloppy blanket of chocolate sauce can easily overpower such airy, delicate desserts. The tangy jam might add a harmonious high note to the baritone of the ganache if paired together… just a thin slick of dark chocolate under a sheen of jam, sandwiched between two weightless wafers… Another day!

Makes untold quantities of sandwich cookies:

1 1-pound box powdered sugar
2 cups blanched almonds
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 large)

Jar of ganache, or bowl of homemade ganache, or good quality rhubarb or apricot jam

For macaroons: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely grind nuts in a food processor, add powdered sugar and continue to process another minute. Make sure the nuts and sugar mix evenly. Add cocoa and blend 1 minute more. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold nut mixture into whites in 4 additions, making a thick batter.

Dollop batter in walnut-sized mounds on cookie sheets, allowing about half an inch between each dollop.

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until firm to touch in center and dry and cracked on top, about 11 minutes. If any cookies run together, separate them with a sharp knife while still hot. Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from parchment.

Assembly: Dollop filling onto flat side of macaroon, top with second macaroon, flat side down. Press lightly to adhere. Repeat with remaining macaroons and filling. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Serve cold.