I find home-baked macaroons much more enticing and flavorful than packaged ones. At the cooking school in Paris where I studied, I learned the secret to keeping them moist: bake them on a paper-lined baking sheet and pour a little water under the paper before removing the cookies from the sheet.
These macaroons are great as an accompaniment for fresh fruit salad or with coffee, tea, or milk. If you like, flavor them with vanilla sugar, which you can find in kosher grocery stores and gourmet stores.
Yield: Makes about 30 macaroons
2¼ cups whole or slivered blanched almonds
1½ cups sugar
3 large egg whites
1 packet vanilla sugar (optional)
1. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper; grease liner lightly with margarine.
2. Grind almonds with ¼ cup sugar in food processor until mixture forms fine, even crumbs. Add egg whites and vanilla sugar, if using, and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add remaining sugar in 2 additions and process about 10 seconds after each or until smooth.
3. With moistened hands, roll about 1 tablespoon mixture between your palms to a smooth ball. Put on prepared baking sheet. Continue shaping macaroons, spacing them 1 inch apart.
4. Press each macaroon to flatten it slightly so it is about ½ inch high. Brush entire surface of each macaroon with water. If both baking sheets don’t fit on rack, bake them one at a time. Bake macaroons 18 to 20 minutes or until very lightly but evenly browned; centers should still be soft. Remove from oven.
5. Lift one end of paper and pour about 2 tablespoons water under it, onto baking sheet; water will boil on contact with hot baking sheet. Lift other end of paper and pour about 2 tablespoons water under it. When water stops boiling, remove macaroons carefully from paper. Transfer to a rack to cool. Keep them in airtight containers.