Most people think that macaroons are chewy spherical cookies made with coconut. But this is only one variation on the theme. Macaroons are actually more generic - they're cookies made with beaten egg whites and sugar, with either ground nuts or coconut stirred in before baking; they don't usually contain flour.
And don't even start the "macaroon" vs. "macaron" debate, as the latter are an entirely different confection of great delicacy! Macaroons are simple cookies, but much loved.
Project PB&J - a contest for food bloggers which is being hosted by my friend Cindy of Once Upon a Loaf and her friend Christina of She Runs, She Eats. The competition is in honor of National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, and required preparing a sandwich and/or a baked good with a nut butter and a jelly/jam or fruit.
So, because I made these for Project PB&J, they include peanuts rather than either almonds or coconut; and they also have a little dollop of fruit - the charoset I offered in yesterday's post. I met the basic requirements, and then found that the end result more than transcends its simple ingredients: these cookies are so, so good!
They're chewy, and there is an intense peanut flavor since ground peanuts provide the bulk of the cookies' substance; the sweetness of the date-fig fruit mixture complements the nuts perfectly. And I have to admit that I eat them by nibbling along the perimeter, before finishing off the last center bite with an enormous proportion of fruit-to-cookie.
These macaroons may seem simple and plain, but they are such a fabulously addictive treat!
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup dry roasted peanuts, ground
1/2 cup date-fig charoset (see yesterday's post)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with lightly greased foil.
In a medium bowl, stir together the egg yolks, peanut butter, sugar, and ground peanuts. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks; fold them into the peanut mixture.
Place the batter into 12 mounds on the baking sheet. Place a generous teaspoon of charoset into the center of each mound. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the macaroons are set and just golden along the edges.
Carefully remove the macaroons from the foil and cool them on a rack.
Makes 12 macaroons.