Monday, January 11, 2016

Almond-Lemon Macaroons (Almendrados)

The men in my life (all two of them - my husband and a good friend) are great fans of all things lemon when their gaze turns to sweets. My tastes are more varied, but I'm all onboard with lemon as well and almonds are just the icing on the cake. This simple recipe for a cookie with only four ingredients was pretty irresistible, though the need to set the dough aside for at least twelve hours was at odds for the desire for immediate gratification.

Before I put this together, there was one thing that I knew I'd change and that was the amount of lemon flavor. It was beyond imagination that the scrawny zest of one lemon was going to impart enough flavor so I added in a teaspoon of natural lemon extract as well as a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. The vanilla is probably some sort of sacrilege for a Spanish cookie recipe, but I often feel it adds depth to lemon-based sweets and notice its absence when I omit it from other recipes.

The only other alteration other than one and a half teaspoons of extra moisture in the form of those extracts that I made was to use almond flour instead of making the almond meal myself. The conversion that I made and have confirmed with web sources is that one cup of almonds yields 2/3 cup of almond meal/flour. I prefer recipes that work by weight rather than volume because of the imprecision brought to the mix, but this recipe only gave volume measurements. This may have been why my cookies ended up looking like little pancakes instead of the nice, rounded mounds in the picture on the recipe page:

I allowed my dough to rest for 22 hours and, when I formed balls, they came together very well, but I imagine the only reason that these flattened out was that I didn't use enough almond flour relative to what would have happened with a cup of almonds that I ground up fresh. It's also possible that I pushed down too hard when I stuck an almond in the top and flattened the little dough balls too much (or a combination of both). I'm certain I cooked them for the proper length of time though give that the recipe says they should be baked very little and just to the point of having some color (which you can see by the cookie that I flipped over was the case). I baked them for 9 minutes.

Regardless of how they look, they tasted amazing. There is a perfect combination of flavors and the texture is a mixture of a crispy exterior and a tender, chewy interior. It is hard not to gobble down a large number of these little cookies (mine made 27) at one sitting. I will definitely make these again, though I'm certain to increase the almond flour volume to 1 1/2 cups next time and I probably will just skip the almond on the top completely and just bake the little dough balls as is. The almond on the top adds one bit of crunch and salt in my case as I used salted Spanish Marcona almonds, but I don't think it does that much for the experience overall. Next time I try these, I'll do an update with a new picture to see if the changes make a difference in taste, texture, and appearance.

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