This past week has been a long one. It was the week of my first paper, first quiz, first exam, and first corporate interview. It feels like madness to realize that I am now at the cusp of being financially independent. I remember stepping out of the interview room on Friday with this sudden burst of energy. It’s not to say that I nailed that interview perfectly, but I felt good about my prospects. In fact, I felt so good that I felt superhuman, and I could do anything O-O. Even flying.
Granted I was mentally sound enough to know better than to try to jump off a building to test my “superhuman” abilities, it was still an awesome feeling. I wish I felt like that now because I have at least two more interviews left :(. Alas, I am back being anxious as usual, but I am optimistic and hopeful.
If anything, that week tested my ability to focus on each task at hand and perform each task well. Thus, I haven’t been doing much thinking ahead, which is not at all like the organized and put-together person most people recognize me as. In fact, I have been living from moment to moment except for planning for a small baking project.
When I saw these cookies, I instantly thought I must make these. No thoughtful deliberation among the other recipes I have bookmarked. Yes, even the extremely popular Tartine’s Morning Buns that I had planned on making for weeks took a backseat. I think I am hooked on all things almond, especially almond paste.
I wish that my photo of these cookies was better since it doesn’t do these adorable and delectable cookies justice. Truth is, I rushed out the door, forgetting to take a photo of the little basket of macaroons, which I gave to my friend as part of a Lunar New Year gift. My friend and I ate a good number of them and managed to restrain ourselves from eating the last two, so I can snap the picture and her dad could try a few.
Unfortunately, that makes me also a bad gift-giver for eating part of someone else’s gift, but what can I say? These were adorable and chewy gems with a zing of orange zest. It definitely meets the Taiwanese obsession with all things QQ, and an appropriate gift to my Taiwanese-American friend :)
Pinched Orange Macaroons
(Adapted from Food Gal, who adapted it from the Patrick Lemble’s recipe featured in Martha Stewart Living, December 2009)
Makes 5 dozen
2 large egg whites
1 lb almond paste
1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted plus more for coating and dusting
1/8 t pure almond extract
3/4 t orange emulsion (optional)
1 t Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or any other orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
1 1/2 t finely grated orange zest
Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. Beat 1 egg white, almond paste, sugar, almond extract, and orange emulsion (if using) together for 2 minutes or until creamy. Add the orange liqueur and zest, and continue beating for 1 min or until just combined.
Lightly dust a clean surface with confectioners’ sugar before turning out the sticky dough. Cut the dough in half, and roll each half into logs of 3/4-inch thick and 18 inches long. Cut each log into 1/2-inch pieces. (Each log should approximately yield 30 pieces.) Roll each piece into a little ball, and set aside.
Lightly beat the remaining egg white to brush onto each ball. Roll these damp balls into the confectioners’ sugar, tapping them to remove the excess. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, and set aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using your three fingers, gently pinch each ball to create an irregular pyramid shape. (I like to think of these as little orange-almond kisses.) Bake each tray for about 15 minutes until lightly golden. Transfer each cookie onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. (Note: Don’t try eating these cookies warm out of the oven because it is like eating a tiny ball of mush. The textural quality is, in my opinion, much more interesting when it’s completely cool.)
These cookies can keep at room temperature for a week, but you’d be lucky to have this batch lasting for even a day ;)