Spicy Carrot Masala Macaroons. Wait! How did this one escape my eye! Desserts with a touch of heat - no, not really my thing. But I could surely imagine little chewy macaroons with carrots, almonds and coconut, spiced with cinnamon and orange zest. They turned out to be chewy, delicious little bites indeed!
If you haven't tried macaroons yet, they have a crispy outer crust when just out of the oven, the interiors moist and chewy, think the ever popular South Indian Coconut Fudge. Unlike the famous French cookies macarons which are notorious for being tricky, these are really easy, quick and forgiving. Best the day they are baked, they soften the next day, but delicious nevertheless!
- Whole almonds (with or without skin) - 105 grams / 3.75 oz / 3/4 cup
- Egg whites - 60 grams / 2, large
- Sugar - 200 grams / 7 oz/ 1 cup ( I have weighed and powdered it, you could use fine grained)
- Ground cinnamon - 1 teaspoon (or garam masala or pumpkin pie spice)
- Ground cloves - 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon (will add this next time, just a suggestion)
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Carrots, medium - finely shredded - 158 grams / 5.625 oz/ 1 plus 1/3 cup lightly packed
- Unsweetened dried shredded coconut, NOT dessicated coconut - 63 grams / 2.25 oz / 3/4 cup
- Orange zest - 1/2 teaspoon (the recipe has much lesser lemon zest, please read note)
- Line your cookie sheets with baking parchment. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C / 325 degree F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- Place the almonds in a zip lock bag and bash with a rolling pin till its mostly in smallish pieces. This helps in grinding it without making it oily or pasty before getting them to the texture you need. Grind them to an uneven meal in the smallest jar of your mixer (or pulse in the food processor). The texture should range from mostly fine to finely chopped. Set aside.
- In a medium sized, thick bottomed steel saucepan with a handle (helps you hold it in place as you stir), whisk the egg whites with a fork till frothy. Whisk in the zest, ensuring there are no lumps. Stir in the sugar, spices and salt. Add the grated carrot, coconut and almonds. Stir until all the ingredients are moistened. Set aside for 10 minutes to dissolve the sugar and hydrate the coconut.
- Drop heaping teaspoons 1 inch apart on the lined baking sheet. Or form tall beehives with your fingers. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till the tips of the carrot shreds begin to color and the bottoms of the cookies are deep golden brown. This again may vary depending on your oven. I found those with dark golden bottoms a bit dry. I have baked for about 20 minutes as mine were really small. Bake a small test batch (err on the side of under-baking rather than over bake), cool and taste. If they are too hard or jaw-achingly chewy or dry (don't ask me how I know), reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes.
- Rotate pans halfway to ensure even baking.
- Set the pan on the rack, cool cookies completely before storing.
- In case, you find it difficult to remove them from the parchment, hold one cookie at a time, gently peel the parchment away.
- The cookies keep for 3-4 days loosely covered to prevent sogginess, rather than airtight.
Note: If you use more zest, it may overpower the cinnamon. Use lesser zest to play up the cinnamon, or omit altogether. But I had used the zest of almost one whole orange, it was very, very zesty, but paired well with the carrot and almonds.