26 November 2012

Macaroon vs Macaron: Moroccan Almond Macaroons

In recent years the French 'Macaron' has become so popular and all pervasive that the 'Macaroons' of the rest of the world have taken a back seat. While it may seem like semantics to debate Macaron vs Macaroons - there is a difference (for which we should rejoice in all their delicious variety). They all have in common the base of egg whites with icing sugar but after that they diverge into an array of widely varying flavour and texture... so please, let's call a Macaron a Macaron, and a Macaroon a Macaroon and enjoy them all.
Morocco has two versions of the Macaroon, one is an almond based thin chewy biscuit, often with a whole almond on the top while the other is still almond based and chewy but is more dense with a hint of cinnamon, and usually lemon zest and rose water. For me, this second version is a wonderful representation in bite sized pieces of some of the influences evident in Moroccan culture and cuisine through centuries of diverse colonisation. Amongst the colonizers there were the Arabs who brought spices to the table, while the Moors cultivated citrus and the French shared their love of sweet pastries and biscuits.

For my version of this Macaroon I used orange zest and orange flower water as it was the orange juice vendors that I sought out in every souk and medina so for me, this is the flavour of Morocco. This recipe makes close to 30 biscuits, they are at their optimum the day of baking with a glass of fresh mint tea (gunpowder green tea, fresh mint and sugar to taste, allow to steep for the mint to impart its full flavour).

  • 275 grams almond meal
  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • extra icing sugar for dusting
  1. preheat oven to 190˚C
  2. sift all dry ingredients together in a bowl
  3. in a separate bowl whisk egg whites until frothy, add zest and orange flower water then add to the dry mixture
  4. combine all ingredients until they come together to make a thick sticky paste
  5. pinch off small pieces and roll into balls (a little smaller than the size of a walnut), you will need to wet your palms with a little orange flower water each time to stop the mixture from sticking to your hands (it also adds extra flavour and makes you smell nice!)
  6. drop the balls into a bowl of icing sugar to completely coat each ball
  7. place on a lined baking tray and flatten with the palm of your hand so the biscuit looks cracked, they do rise and spread a very small amount so don't put them too close together
  8. bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are just turning golden but the centres are still moist and chewy
  9. allow to cool and enjoy!

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