Tag Archives: Italian

Cookies 15: Macaroons

macaroonsThis famous French pastry actually originated in an Italian monastery where – it is believed – their shape was modeled on the monks’ belly buttons!

Macaroons came to France in the 16th century when Catherine de Medici married Henri II.

Try this royal – and religious – treat via Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Macaroons

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds

6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

To make the macaroons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

To fill the macaroons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Variations: To make coffee-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops brown food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, blend 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon warm water for the filling. To make cassis-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops purple food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, use 1/3 cup good-quality cassis jam for the filling. To make pistachio-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops green food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, combine 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 tablespoon pistachio paste for the filling.

Macaroon Filling

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar. Set mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture, whisking often, until it feels warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until mixture is stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until butter is thoroughly incorporated. The filling can be kept, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before stirring.
  3. Variations: To make hazelnut-honey filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of macaroon filling with 1/3 cup finely ground hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons good-quality honey.
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Crazy About Soccer/Football/Whatever!

Beginning when he was three, my son has played organized soccer.

I know – this is crazy. But when one of your parents comes from a soccer-mad country and the other one is an agnostic about sports (I believe that sports exist, I just don’t see how they are relevant to my life), and therefore apathetic about whether or not you play, the soccer-mad parent is going to win.

But it turns out that it’s a win for everyone because soccer is a really fun sport to play as well as watch (so long as you can tune out the parents screaming instructions on the sidelines).

It’s also an international sport. Unlike baseball, basketball, or American football, soccer’s passport has been enthusiastically stamped in almost every country in the world.

It can boast of 3.3-3.5 BILLION fans worldwide.

According to WikiAnswers, soccer (referred to online – and almost everywhere in the world that is not America – as “football”) has about 7 times as many fans as baseball does.

There are 70 English league teams, 40 Italian league teams, and 40 Spanish league teams. And that’s just Europe.

It’s a terrific sport because it can be played with so little equipment. You basically just need a reasonable soccer ball, and you’re done. The goals and lines can be marked out in dirt or grass or using anything that ingenuity can corral.

If that still hasn’t sold you on the sport, watch this:

This year the World Cup will be played in South Africa beginning on June 11. Check out their cute mascot!

He is a leopard named Zakumi, which basically means “South Africa 10.”

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