We were fortunate to have Nick Malgieri and Hervé Poussot of Brooklyn’s Almondine Bakery demonstrate techniques for making French macarons and Italian macaroons using American Almond Products last fall. The demo took place at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York.
Attendees were professional bakers and members of the group the Bakers Dozen.
Here are some of the terrific ICE students who helped with the demo.
This post will discuss Amaretti. (Look for future posts on chewy Italian macaroons and French almond macrons.) First Nick discussed the two types of Italian macaroons that are common. There is the chewy type one finds at Italian bakeries in the US. And then there is the crispy type, like the Amaretti di Saronno. (The famous Lazaroni amaretti are made using bitter apricot kernels, something available at American Almond in 7 pound cans.) The difference he explained, comes from the quantity of egg whites in the recipe. There are more egg whites used to make the crisp type of macaroon or amaretti. And in the US, bakeries will add some honey to the mix. This helps keep the cookies more chewy after baking.
To make the crunchy, amaretti-style macaroon, first he recommended that the almond paste and sugar be blended slowly until the mixture looks like coarsely ground cheese. Here is a photo of the first stage of mixing the almond paste and sugar that we took in our test kitchen.
He stressed that it is important to add the egg white gradually, beating on the lowest speed possible. Here is a photo of the first stages of mixing in the egg whites that we took in our test kitchen.
This keeps the egg whites from whipping while allowing the paste to blend into the sugar. Here is a photo of the mixture after it has been well blended on low speed that we took in our test kitchen.
After the batter is blended, Nick recommended that you pack the batter into containers and store it in the refrigerator overnight before piping and baking. This helps deflate any air that may have been beaten into the mixture he explained.
The batter is piped onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Here is Nick at the demo piping the soft batter.
He had a neat trick to tap down any tip mark that was left on top of the piped batter. He “slapped” the piped batter gently with a dampened clean towel.
Then the batter is sprinkled with pearl sugar. (In Europe a coarse sugar crystal called petit sucre en grains is used. It has a more crystalline appearance.) Here is a piped macaroon dusted with pearl sugar that we found in a Scandinavian store.
The batter is baked until crisp and dry throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your oven. Cooling the cookies on their baking sheets also ensures they will be nicely dried throughout.
Here is our adaptation of Nick’s recipe, which he graciously allows us to share with you.
And for those who have the interest, this recipe can be made using American Almond’s Macaroon or Kernel Paste to get a macaroon with more of that taste associated with the packaged Amaretti di Saronno.