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Fair warning: only those with a sizable sweet tooth need apply. But somehow these cookies manage to be both decadently sweet and pleasantly light. They look like your average sugar cookie, but then the scent of almond gives away their secret identity. The first bite tells the rest of the story: crispy, crackly edges give way to rich, chewy centers… soon all that’s left is a dusting of powdered sugar on your fingertips and a satisfied smile on your face. And to me, that’s what baking is all about. :)

(I could have easily titled this post Almond Obsession Part 2, since I already indulged myself last week with the Cherry Jam and Almond Cookie Bars. If you’ve seen the light and bought your own case of almond paste, you’re going to love these…)

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Chewy Almond Macaroons
makes 36 cookies

21 oz. almond paste (see cookie bar Recipe Notes for more info)
2 c. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt (not coarse)
4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
sifted confectioner’s sugar for topping

Oven 325F. Blend the almond paste, sugar, and salt with electric mixer until well-mixed and crumbly. Add egg whites and almond extract and mix again until the dough is a smooth, sticky paste. Using two spoons, scoop the dough by heaped tablespoons on to lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Leave two inches between each, as cookies will spread quite a bit.

Generously sift powdered sugar over the tops of each little mound of cookie dough. (I love this part — it looks like a little snow-topped mountain range.) Use three fingers to press each cookie a little flatter. Bake for about 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans, then eat one and transfer the rest to an airtight container. :)

Recipe Notes + Tips:
Many Americans associate macaroons with coconut, but the term macaroon (from the French macaron) refers to any cookie which uses ground nuts and egg white as binding agents instead of flour and whole eggs. Although macaroons include ground nuts or sweetened nut pastes for the body of the cookie, flavors can range from berry to citrus, chocolate to coffee.

Macaroons are super simple to make and are a great gluten-free alternative. This recipe easily halves or doubles, and the cookies can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to three months. My thanks for recipe inspiration go to King Arthur Flour yet again, this time for their bakery’s Almond Bianchi cookies.

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