Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Almond Macaroons, Orange-Almond Biscotti

With last week being Valentine’s Day, and my Mom’s birthday, I set aside a few days to do some baking. Because Mom’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day, I get to go a bit overboard on the “heart” theme and this year was no exception. Her gifts were wrapped in pink and red paper with hearts, the box in which I mailed them was lined with red shredded paper and pink tissue paper with tiny white hearts; even the box of goodies which I sent to her and Dad had the same colors and theme and lots of curly ribbons as well. What the heck, it’s a long winter. ;) I feel that we have had a lot of snow here, but they have had to deal with much more. Time for a break!

For me, too. I love to bake, but since I also love to eat, I try to hold myself back as much as I can. Christmas, of course, is a biggie in the baking schedule. As is Easter. And Valentine’s Day. During these holidays, I pretty much forget about “light” baking. I probably shouldn’t, but when I give these goodies as gifts, I want them to be extra-good, and that means (cover your eyes!) butter. I rationalize that I bake healthy during most of the year, I can take on a few splurges.

My friend Jenni suggested getting together to bake at her house, so I spent the day before baking a couple of “extra” items. The resulting list of Valentine’s Day goodies was:

  • Chocolate-dipped Almond Macaroons
  • Chocolate-drizzled Orange Almond Biscotti
  • Peanut Butter Fudge
  • Nutty Phyllo Logs
  • Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

Today I will post about the first three.

I have made these coconut macaroons for a few years now. Last year, they spread a little more during baking so I drizzled them with chocolate. This year they stayed relatively in the ball-shape which they were scooped onto the baking sheet in, so I decided to dip the bottoms I melted chocolate. Seriously, words cannot describe how good these little babies are—coconutty, almondy, chocolatey…. All non-words, but perfect in their description! The macaroons are moist (do not overbake!) and chewy. Wrapped individually in bits of plastic wrap, they travel very well, too.

I buy hunks of almond paste at an Italian grocery and, wrapped tightly and placed in a heavy freezer bag, it will last for several months (or, in my case, Christmas baking through Easter baking!). The batter for the macaroons is rather stiff, and it takes some work to incorporate the beaten egg whites into it, but persistence will be rewarded. I used a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop to measure out the macaroons, but next year I hope to remember to buy a slightly smaller scoop so the cookies will fit better into small candy cups for serving.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Heavenly Almond Macaroons

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 30

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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3 1/2 ounces almond paste

3/4 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon orange zest -- freshly grated is preferred

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

14 ounces sweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

1 large egg white -- room temperature

2 ounces dark chocolate -- chips will melt more evenly

2 ounces milk chocolate -- chips will melt more evenly

3/4 teaspoon vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a small food processor or blender, chop the almond paste.

Add the sweetened condensed milk and puree until well blended. Add the extracts, salt, orange zest, and flour and pulse until combined. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the coconut and mini chips. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white at high speed of an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Dollop the egg whites onto the surface of the coconut mixture and fold in gently until the egg is incorporated into the dough.

Line baking sheets with parchment. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets (I use a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, coating the interior of the surface with cooking spray after every six cookies or so, then packing the coconut mixture firmly into the scoop to form nicely rounded mounds of dough).

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms are a light golden color. Remove from oven, allow to sit on the baking sheet for a minute, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, melt the dark and milk chocolate and the shortening in the microwave until almost melted. Stir until all chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.

For drizzling the macaroons:

Pour melted chocolate mixture into a small plastic sandwich bag (stand the bag up in a coffee mug for stability) and snip off a teeny, tiny part of the corner (or use a pastry bag with a #3 round tip). Drizzle the macaroons with chocolate. Allow to stand at a rather cool room temperature until chocolate firms up.

For dipping the bottoms:

Hold the macaroon by the top and dip the bottom into the melted chocolate. Lift from the chocolate, allow the excess to drip back into the bowl for a couple of seconds, then use a small spatula to remove excess as you transfer the macaroon to a sheet of waxed paper to firm up.

Store in a tightly covered container (also can be refrigerated).

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Per serving: 108 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat, 4g Saturated Fat; (46% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; trace Cholesterol; 54mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

The biscotti was a relatively easy recipe, and one of the two lower-fat cookies which was baked (the other being the Phyllo Logs).

This biscotti just has so much going for it, with all of the wonderful flavors and not a one dominating the other. One caveat, you must use fresh orange peel. I’ve subbed for the oj with no major difference in taste, but subbing reconstituted peel for the fresh was not a good decision.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chocolate-Drizzled Orange Almond Biscotti

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 40

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon orange zest -- freshly grated, no substitutes!

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice -- in a pinch, can sub 2 teaspoons thawed, undiluted orange

juice concentrate and 1 teaspoon water

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons canola oil

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup dried cranberries -- orange-flavored is best

3/4 cup toasted almonds -- chopped

1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

4 ounces dark chocolate

1/2 teaspoon shortening

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flours through salt in a large bowl. Make a "well" in the center of the flour mixture and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg and egg whites until foamy. Add the orange zest through the slmond extract and mix well. Pour this mixture into the center of the flour, stir until combined. Add the cranberries and almonds and mix.

Divide the mixture in half. Shape each half into an 11" long x 2-1/4" wide log, patting top slightly (coating the log with cooking spray will help with "sticking issues"). Keep logs about 4" apart.

Sprinkle with Demerara sugar and bake for 22-24 minutes, or until the bottoms of the logs are golden (lift slightly with a wide spatula to check this or the log may start to break).

Remove from oven. Turn oven down to 325F and, using 2 spatulas, transfer the logs to a cooling rack. Set the baking sheet and parchment aside.

Cool logs for 1/2 hour. Transfer to a cutting board and slice diagonally into 1/2" slices (using an electric knife works very well). Stand the slices upright on the parchment and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove slices from baking sheet, cool completely.

Arrange the biscotti, cut side up, about 1/2" from each other, on a wire rack with waxed paper underneath (to catch the chocolate drips).

Melt chocolate and shortening in a small bowl and stir well. Place a plastic sandwich bag in a mug, roll back the opening a bit, and pour the chocolate in. Close the bag tightly (expel excess air). Cut a very small piece from one corner (you can always make a bigger cut, but can't make it smaller!), and drizzle the biscotti with the chocolate. Let sit in a cool area until chocolate has firmed up.

These will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container (separate layers with waxed paper) and can also be frozen for longer storage.

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Per serving: 94 Calories (kcal); 3g Total Fat (trace Saturated); (31% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 5mg Cholesterol; 72mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Jenni found the peanut butter fudge recipe at the King Arthur Flour recipe website and it has to be the best pb fudge I’ve ever had (and, yes, I’ve had a lot!). She pressed chopped peanuts into the top of the fudge and that gave the pieces a nice texture as well as an extra burst of peanut flavor. The photo will be in the next post, along with the entire cookie tray.


Laura said...

Those look great, but... I am dying to hear about the brownie cupcakes! ;)

Foodycat said...

Those macaroons sound wonderful!