"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Me and my almendrados

by Julie Tilsner on April 16, 2007

in Sugar and Spite, Sweet!

Before I tell you how I rocked my own world and made almond-lemon macaroons that actually turned out, I should inform you of several Bad Home Cook standards:

Sunday morning I went to make toast for Tony and burnt black the last piece of bread in the house. Not long afterwards I forgot to watch the half and half warming on the stove for coffee, and it boiled over, making a mess of my stove top.

At least I had the sense not to try and make eggs or anything. Tony swore up and down he wasn’t actually hungry, but I think he was just being smart, in the Darwinian sense.

It’s my tendency to botch the simplest things that pisses me off most. That’s why the Almendrados so delighted me. They’ve restored my faith in myself. Maybe I can be taught.

Tony, ever helpful, had sent me a link to the New York Times’ food section piece about Sephardic cooking from Morocco (I wish the link were still free, it was a wonderfully-detailed article about a woman collecting old Jewish Moroccan recipes that were in danger of being lost forever). One recipe jumped out at me for some reason: Almond-lemon macaroons, or Almendrados.

Four ingredients. Three steps. The name alone had me tasting the Levant. If I closed my eyes I could almost feel the Sirocco wind on my face, smell the lemon tree outside my window and hear a distant  Muezzin wailing away the appointed hour.

I opened my eyes again. There was a Santa Ana blowing debris around the yard. I could smell the Lemon Pledge underneath my sink. I listened to the distant drone of the leaf blower. And I knew I’d make these macaroons, damn it. They were calling me.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from “Dulce Lo Vivas,” by Ana Bensadon (Ediciones Martinez Roca)

2 cups whole blanched almonds, plus about 30 for decoration
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
zest of one lemon

The recipe calls for grinding the two cups of almonds, but that’s much too difficult for someone like me, even if I did have a working food processor. I scored a bag of ground almonds from Trader Joe’s and used that instead.

Mix the almonds together with 3/4 of the sugar. Add the egg and the lemon zest. Mix together until you have a cohesive dough.

Cover and chill for at least 12 hours. I chilled mine for almost 48 hours because I couldn’t get around to baking any sooner than that.

Preheat oven to 350.

Pinch off dough about the size of a walnut and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place them on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Gently press the decorative almond into the center and reshape if necessary. This step made me deliriously happy for some reason. Even my son got into the game.

Bake for between 8 and 10 minutes. Don’t touch them until they’re cool. This makes them firm and crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Oh. My. God. I was so impressed with myself.

I want you all to be impressed, too. Of course, they could look fancier. They could be bigger. And I probably should have used whole almonds instead of the slivered blanched I had in the back of my pantry. But one thing at a time. Besides…the taste….

Macaroons make good monsters, too.Jacksmacaroons

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

AT April 17, 2007 at 10:45 am

Yes folks, may I validate and bear out that these pod-like ‘almendrados’ are a tasty little treat–I seem to recall my Dad (a good home cook) preparing something similar many moons ago, but not as sweet and fun as these! Now, as to Sunday’s breakfast Julie T., uh, we gotta talk…


Willa April 18, 2007 at 3:49 pm

I am impressed- and these sound marvelous. Some other blog I read recently had a toffee-marzipan-walnut confection recipe on it, and so I have had almonds on my mind- the almind lemon combination sounds beyond belief good.


Trawna April 22, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Just found your website via a comment that you left at BH’s. I LOVE it … finally someone I can really relate to re cooking. Our family’s heritage is part-Jewish and I never have figured out how to make stuff like kneidlach taste like anything but paste! Thanks for posting the Almendrados, I swear my mother-in-law used to make something very similar and I am looking forward to trying this recipe out. I have a number of her recipes, but I swear she left out at least one key ingredient from every recipe she gave me, just so that my husband would say … “hmmm, good, but not quite as good as Mom made it!” LOL
As for the other side of the family … well, let’s just say that tuna casserole was a stretch!
Hope you don’t mind if I bookmark you?


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