Sugar and Spice: Macaroons

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Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
Simple and classic, macaroons are a great treat to give as a gift or serve at a holiday party.

These wheat- and dairy-free treats are quick to assemble. The combination of honey and stevia, a noncaloric herbal sweetener, eliminate the need for refined sugar. 

Holiday prep tip: Assemble batches up to 2 months ahead. Place cookies in individual bonbon cups or papers, separate layers with parchment paper, store in metal tins or gift boxes, then slip into zip-top bags and freeze.

4 egg whites from large or extra-large eggs (1/2 to 2/3 cup)
Unrefined coconut oil, clarified butter or ghee (to grease baking sheets)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar (sugar from a succulent plant)
1/4 teaspoon additive-free stevia extract powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
11/3 to 2 cups unsweetened, sulfite-free, finely shredded coconut

1. Place egg whites in a 11/2-quart metal, copper or glass bowl. Make sure no yolk is in whites; even a trace can prevent whites from forming stiff peaks. Let whites stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 300? F. Oil a large cookie sheet.

3. Using an electric mixer on high, beat whites until frothy, add cream of tartar and continue until stiff peaks form.

4. Gradually add honey or agave nectar, stevia and vanilla. Fold in coconut. Add more coconut if batter appears wet and loose. Batter should be stiffer than meringue batter but not as stiff as cookie dough.

5. Drop batter by level tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. 

6. Bake in center of oven until set and lightly brown around edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet, then transfer to airtight containers.

7. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, refrigerate up to 4 weeks, or freeze
for longer storage.


Coconut-Orange Macaroons: In step 4, replace vanilla with 1 teaspoon pure orange extract.

Cocoa Macaroons: In step 4, before adding coconut, add 2 tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa.

Carob Macaroons: In step 4, before adding coconut, add 2 tablespoons sifted carob powder.

How to bag cookies

When you pack cookies in zip-top bags, separate each layer with pieces of unbleached parchment paper and place a piece of unbleached paper towel inside top and bottom of bag to absorb moisture. Insert end of a straw 2 to 3 inches into bag, zip bag closed to meet straw, then inhale through straw to remove air. Pinch straw shut, then pull it out and close bag to prevent freezer burn. Stash in freezer.

Recipes excerpted from The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet and Cookbook by Rachel Albert-Matesz (Planetary Press, 2004). For more recipes,   

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