These modest-looking cookies date at least to the seventeenth century and appear in nearly every eighteenth-century cookbook available in Philadelphia and abroad. Often also appearing as "mackroons," "mackeroons," " maccaroons," and macarons (the French spelling , they were simple combinations of a few flavorful ingredients. A cookery book from 1611 described them as sweetmeats "compounded of Sugar, Almonds, Rosewater, and Muske, pounded together, and baked with a gentle fire" (Hess 341). With the occasional substitution of orange water for rose water, eighteenth-century macaroons remained nearly identical to their medieval predecessors. "These cookies are," as historian Karen Hess writes, "simply baked puffy marchpane [marzipan]," and, as such, they satisfied the eighteenth-century palate's fondness for almonds (341).

Makes 2 dozen cookies

  1. 1/2 cup toasted sliced Almonds
  2. 1/2 cup (5 1/4 ounces ) Almond Paste
  3. 3 large egg whites
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a #16 round tip.
  • Grind the cooled toasted almonds in a food processor, and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, mix the Almond Paste with 1 tablespoon of the egg whites until soft, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add the sugar and mix until light. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the remaining egg whites, and mix until smooth.
  • With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the ground almonds.
  • Fill the pastry bag one-quarter full with the macaroon batter. Pipe I-inch rounds of batter, a few inches apart, on the prepared cookie sheets, or drop the batter by the tablespoonful.
  • Put the macaroons in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until light golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the cookie sheets.

  • Hannah Glasse's recipe "To make Mackeroons:' published in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, is just one example of how medieval culinary traditions continued to influence eighteenth-century foodways.
    This recipe is little changed from those of centuries earlier:

    Take a pound of almonds. let them be scalded. blanched, and thrown into cold water. then dry them in a cloth. and pound them in a mortar, moisten them with orange-flower water. or the white of an egg, lest they turn to oil. afterwards take an equal quantity of
    fine powder sugar. with three or four whites of eggs, and a little musk, beat all well together, and shape them on a wafer-paper, with a spoon round. Bake them in a gentle oven on tin plates (168)


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