Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chasing 'roons

Yesterday, while browsing at Piko, I found a droolworthy new food crush. I discovered Little Bird organic, raw macaroons. Angels sung, a ray of light beamed down from heaven and I grabbed a couple of packets from the shelf. Then I checked the price and .. put one back.

Even at $9 for a packet of five, I'm not complaining about the price per se; you pay for quality. These are definitely quality. My complaint is that this serious new addiction doesn't fit my food budget (it's me, not you, Little Bird). I have to learn to make them.

What is a macaroon? Well firstly, it's not to be confused with a french macaroon, or macaron, although both traditionally contain ground almonds and are nominally derived from the Italian maccarone.

Kek gave me a book of macaron recipes for my birthday and I've also been intending to have a go at those. However, the intense recipes and pages of 'necessary equipment' and 'what to do if this (macaron disaster) happens' make me think I'd better study the book before I attempt macaronage. This is my poor excuse for not having made use of her present yet.

The type of macaroon that seems to be popping up everywhere is the coconut macaroon, which contains dessicated coconut and ground nuts as the main ingredients. The popular variation among health nuts is the vegan, raw version, which is what the Little Bird ones are. Instead of being cooked, 'raw' macaroons are dehydrated. I'm seeing variations on the theme, e.g. macadamia instead of almond, addition of flavours, cacao, ground flax and different sweeteners (agave, stevia, maple syrup). You know how food bloggers like to get crazy.

The important thing with a macaroon seems to be the texture. They must be gently crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. I've found a few recipes on the interwebs:

RawieNZ Coconut Pineapple Macaroons (I got very excited when I found this one as they seem to be affiliated with Little Bird)
Rawmazing - Raw Macaroons Three Ways - these ones look very easy.
To Be the Whole Package - Oven Macaroons - You have to scroll down to find the macaroons in that post, but it explains how to make 'raw' macaroons in an oven, which is all I have.
Traditional Amaretti - Not raw, not vegan, uses sugar. This is a type of traditional Italian 'macaroon' called Amaretti. 

I came to know Amaretti when I was in Pallanze, Verbania last month, as they are a specialty of the region. Eating them caused my tastebuds to think they had died and gone to almond-scented heaven.

Check out the ingredient list. Please excuse the lack of focus, one should not drink Grappa and then attempt to use a camera. Actually, just never drink Grappa; it's evil stuff.
Sweet and bitter almonds, sugar, egg-white. That's it. As there are no preservatives you have to eat them within 15 days from the date of manufacture. I bought two boxes (made that day!) to take home to Mamasana, but only one box actually made it.... :D Suitcase was too small.. obviously. 

So, I have my ground almonds, my shredded coconut and a bunch of recipe ideas. As I am not vegan, I will probably roll with using eggwhites and just have to decide on a sweetener. I'm keen to try NZ honey, which should work for texture and to use the long, slow oven dehydration (8 hours) overnight. I thought about adding lemon, but then I'd might as well be making a friand, yes?

Do any readers have a favourite macaroon recipe and/or technique? If so, please share and I'll add it to my list of links above.


  1. I love, love, LOVE Amaretti! And Melbourne having a bigger Italian population than Italy (well, perhaps not quite...), it's never hard to find good ones.

    I'm depending on you to test out that Macaron book, you know. I'm far too lazy to be the pioneer...

  2. Love me some raw vegan macaroonies. I also have some recipes on my blog if you're looking for more.

    Love that you're from my fave place in NZ. Hope to someday live there (in my dreams) x

  3. My favourite raw macaroons have coconut, honey, almonds and lemon juice...dehydrate overnight and fall in love. So yummy!


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