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macaroons

  • Macaroons, the Cookie for Everyone!

    The holidays have come and pass, and everyone has most definitely eaten more than they needed to, but that’s part of what the holidays are all about.  Of course with all the eating there has to be a favorite and for us that is dessert!  Many people will enjoy all kinds of desserts but one of the best is the macaroon.  The macaroon has existed for centuries; some even say it has been around since the 9th century where it was first created in Italy.  What makes macaroons unique is their ingredients and long history.

    Macaroon’s origins can be traced back to the Italian monastery, and it is believed that they were brought to France in 1533.  The cookies were very popular in those times and were also popular with particular religious groups, like the Italian Jews because they had no flour or leavening.  They eventually spread throughout the rest of Europe as well, and that’s where alterations to the original recipe happened.

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    Macaroon’s name comes from the Italian word maccarone or maccherone which referred to the almond paste which was the main ingredient in them.  The other ingredients are sugar and egg whites.  As macaroons spread throughout Europe the recipe was altered.  In some recipes potato starch is added to give the macaroons more body.  Due to the shelf life of mashed potatoes in macaroons they are not a common commercial recipe.  One of the biggest changes to the recipe was introducing shredded dry coconut.  At first the coconut was added in small amounts but over time it completely replaced the ground almonds in some recipes.

    Today, coconut macaroons are the most popular in North America, but the recipe keeps changing and new variations are being created.  Companies like James Candy offer a whole variety of macaroons.  One of the most popular adaptations to this recipe is dipping the macaroons in chocolate.  Originally people preferred them being dipped in milk chocolate, but now you can get them dipped in dark and white chocolate!  They also have the delicious French version known as a Macaron (French Macaroon).  These lovely delights are two very light almond meringue cookies that sandwich a filling.  The macaroon is unique because of its feathery lightness and soft creamy filling.

    Don’t let the end of the holidays end your enjoyment of mouth-watering, scrumptious baked goods.  Macaroons are one of those delightful treats that are fun to eat any time of the year, and are perfect for giving to visitors and friends.

  • Gift Guide: How to Treat Your Co-Workers

    candy tourEvery year, the holiday season comes around and you may be at a standstill trying to figure out how to spread that holiday cheer around the office. Should you buy everyone an individual gift? Should you only give them holiday cards? Will lottery scratch-off tickets suffice?

    The truth of the matter is, it’s hard to figure out what everyone likes and with that being said, one gift that is a crowd favorite is candy! Gifting candy during the holiday can make your life a little easier and it’ll be a special way to tell your co-workers you care about them. While the notion may seem small, giving candy as a gift will go a far way and you’ll definitely make your co-workers happy.

    The best thing about gifting candy is that you have so many different choices that can satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. From macaroons to salt water taffy to rich and creamy fudge, gifting candy will go over well with everyone. Here are some tips to check out when gifting candy!

    Variety

    You may not know which candies are your co-workers favorites, so you could make a candy gift basket that has a variety of candies in them. Consider all types of flavor profiles, from chocolates to nuts to fruity salt water taffy. Don’t forget to place some chewy macaroons into the basket as well! Giving your co-workers a variety of candies to eat will cover all your bases because there will be at least one thing they absolutely love.

    Size

    Depending on the number of co-workers you are giving gifts to, candy is a cost effective solution for small or large offices! You have the ability to use a lot of pieces or ration out the amount you give to each co-worker. Either way, candy will be a tasty treat from one piece to one dozen!

    Desserts

    Perhaps your office is throwing a holiday party and it’s just a little too hard for you to give a gift to everyone. A great idea is to whip up a delicious dessert that has pieces of candy all over it! From cakes to brownies to cookies, candy can always find its way into a recipe. For example, you could make real fudge brownies by dropping in a few pieces of fudge into your brownie mix. You can also decorate a cake with macaroons for an added chewy element and you could make chocolate bark with candied nuts!

    The options are truly endless when it comes time to gift candy. From gift baskets to desserts, candy is a crowd favorite and it’ll help you spread around some much needed holiday joy!

  • The History Behind Macaroons

    macaroonWhen is the last time you had a macaroon – was it an almond, coconut, chocolate chip or chocolate covered macaroon? Whichever variation you had last, it was probably delicious but do you know the origins behind this cookie? Legend has it that the macaroon cookie first was dated back in the 8th or 9th century Italian monastery and the earliest recording has been traced back to Commercy, France. Some historians argue that macaroons originated in Venice and made their way to France by sailors.

    While the exact recordings of the macaroon are debated, one thing kept true was its unique texture and flavor. The word ‘macaroon’ is derived from the Italian word ammaccare which means to crush. The reference is to the almond paste which was the main ingredient of the cookie since the beginning of its introduction. Interestingly enough, almonds were introduced to Venice in the beginning of the 7th century by Arab invaders. From there, egg whites and sugar were mixed to create the cookie.

    By the 18th century, the French refined the macaroon and made it a delicacy by sticking to the original recipe and modifying it slightly. The basics included almond paste, sugar and egg whites but they shaped the cookie round and after they would bake, jam or another filling would be placed between two rounded macaroons. It may have been the first ‘sandwich’ cookie because the Oreo didn’t debut until 1912!

    The macaroon eventually made its way around the world and it wasn’t until the late 19th century when the almond was replaced with coconut in North America. The almond replacement was due to the fragile nature of the cookie because the coconut substitute held up better during transportation. Additionally, the coconut substitute tended to last longer on long voyages which made it less likely to spoil over time.

    Today, macaroons are considered favorites among cookie eaters and the recipes have not changed much since the 8th century. They saying, ‘why fix something that isn’t broken’ definitely applies to the macaroon because its’ recipe has lasted this long. The chewy and delightful cookie is a great holiday dessert because it pairs perfectly with milk or coffee! You have to try each variety because they all have the same back bone but different flavor profiles. You can assume that the macaroon cookie is on track to stay around for a few more hundred years.

  • 10 Creative Ways To Use Candy This Fall

    Check out this reference guide to find the most creative ways to use candy this fall. From salt water taffy to chocolate covered macaroons, everyone's sweet tooth will love it!

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  • Why Macaroons are Making a Comeback

    Macaroons are one of the oldest and most popular European confections. But to many people who have grown up snacking on boxed cookies or candy bars, macaroons are a relatively new discovery. Recently, in the United States, macaroons have seen a huge resurgence in popularity, as more and more people discover them. So what are macaroons and what makes them so popular?

    Macaroons can be small, fluffy sweet cookies or they can be more like tiny cakes, depending on how they're made. One of the great things about macaroons is that there are hundreds of variants, but what unites them all is that they are made with a basis of ground almonds. The almonds are what give them their distinct, sweet flavor, even though the amount of sugar typically added to them is relatively small compared to cookies or cakes. Some macaroon recipes don't have sugar added at all!

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    But while all macaroons share this basic ingredient, what really makes them so enjoyable is trying the many different kinds. For example, many macaroons do not seem nutty at all. They don't have chunks of gritty nuts in them. Instead, the nuts are in the form of an almond paste, which is then blended with whipped egg whites to take on a smooth, fluffy consistency. This substance is more like meringue than cookie dough or batter and, when baked, it retains its fluffy feel. The result is something golden-brown on the outside, but white and moist on the inside. It is also this consistency and preparation method which separates macaroons from amaretti, which are also almond-based, but tend to be hard, dense, and crunchy.

    Macaroons have been around since the 800s C.E. and have spread all over the world, meaning there are endless varieties. Some macaroons are larger and moister, like cakes; while others are baked to brown and crunch when you bite them. A huge number of ingredients can be added, as well, the most popular being shredded coconut, chopped or ground nuts, or (nowadays) chocolate. Chocolate macaroons have really taken off, both in the form of macaroons with chocolate chips baked inside of them and that of traditional macaroons with chocolate drizzled over the top when they're done.

    In a world of mass produced snacks, macaroons are one of the few remaining artisanal confections. Every area has its own take and you could spend a lifetime sampling maroons without ever running out of new ones to try.

    What's your favorite kind of macaroon?

  • Valentine’s Day: Skip the Ordinary Chocolate

    Valentine’s Day is now less than a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to purchase for your loved one. Many people wait until the last minute to buy their gifts and stick with predictable chocolates. Although we’re sure that your Valentine enjoyed those in the past, you can get creative this year and think outside the box (of chocolates). Below are some great ideas that will get you bonus points for originality.

    • Sea Salt Caramels – Last year, anything red velvet was all the rage. This year’s flavor appears to be sea salt caramels. These candies are the perfect blend of chocolate, buttery caramel, and the unexpected boldness of salt. They make the perfect Valentine candy because they’re both sweet and salty. There are many delicious sea salt caramels for sale, but if you really want to impress your beloved, try Food Network chef Ina Garten’s recipe for Fleur de Sel Caramels. The result will be well worth the time you invest in the kitchen.

     

    • Chocolate Covered Bacon – Is your Valentine a bacon lover? Why not put a sweet twist on this salty, decadent treat. Bacon is the perfect snack when lightly coated with either milk or dark chocolate. The unexpected sweetness coating on this fatty and salty meat will leave your Valentine speechless.

     

    • Gourmet Popcorn – If your Valentine is a movie lover, the gift of gourmet popcorn will tickle their fancy. Plan a romantic night of movie watching as you sample sweet and delicious caramel popcorn while watching something that makes you both happy. Caramel will be a surprising switch from the usual over-buttered, movie theater variety.

     

    • French MacaroonsFrench macaroons are delicious treats that have a sweet-almond base and use egg whites to achieve a meringue-like flavor. These delicious sandwich-like cookies are petite in size and unique in complexity. If your adored prefers the taste of coconut, you can’t go wrong with the more common American variety of macaroons.

     

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    It’s no surprise that chocolates are very popular around Valentine’s Day. Just about everyone loves chocolate -- but you can be original and select something special this year. Think about what your significant other likes and find a way to make it into a gift. If you’re a pro in the kitchen don’t overlook making a sweet for your sweet; if you're not, there are plenty of places that you can purchase unique sweets.

     

     

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