Romula Yanes, Copyright © 2010 by Conde Nast Publications
America's first epicurean magazine had very ambitious plans. Although war was imminent, you wouldn't have known it from turning the pages. In this, the second issue, Gourmet's chef, Louis P. DeGouy ("de goo-ey"), taught his readers how to cook a duck. They could also read about "Famous Chefs of Today"; peruse the first installment of "Clementine in the Kitchen," the story of a French cook (the series eventually became a beloved book); and shop vicariously at a store that specialized in dates (it sold Deglet Noors, Golden Saidys, and black Hyanas). Turning to the menus, they found a rather elaborate celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, complete with oysters rockefeller, Creole soup, papaya balls, pompano fillets, pigeon pie, poinsettia salad (canned pineapple, pimiento strips, cream cheese moistened with French dressing, and paprika), creamed peas, and sugared yams.
But the best thing about the menu was the finale: crisp, chewy little cookies with a subtle almond scent. Although the recipe required a lot of work, readers would beg for it again and again over the years. Happily, the food processor has taken most of the labor out of these French-style macaroons, and today they are a breeze to make.
Makes about four dozen 1 1⁄2-inch cookies
These should be baked a few days in advance. They will keep several months when kept in a closed tin in a cool, dry place.
Work 1⁄2 pound almond paste with a wooden spoon until it is smooth. Add three slightly beaten egg whites and blend thoroughly. Add 1⁄2 cup sifted pastry flour, resifted with 1⁄2 cup fine granulated sugar and 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar. Cover a cooky sheet or sheets with bond paper. The cooky mixture may be dropped from the tip of a teaspoon and shaped on the paper, or may be pressed through a cooky press, or shaped with a pastry bag and tube. Bake in a slow oven (300 degrees Fahrenheit) about 30 minutes. The cakes may be removed from the paper by means of a spatula while still warm.
Variations: Finely chopped or ground candied fruits may be added to the mixture before baking. Or the tops of the macaroons may be decorated before baking by placing in the center of each a nut half, a raisin (seedless, black or white), or a bit of candied fruit—such as a bit of angelica—cut fancifully, or by sprinkling with finely chopped nut meats. The cakes may be decorated after baking by dainty frosting designs formed with the help of a cake decorator or a pastry tube.
1. The almond paste should be at room temperature. 2. Rather than working the almond paste with a wooden spoon, use a food processor.
3. Use White Lily flour (see Sources, page 154) or cake flour (not self-rising) in place of the pastry flour. 4. Use regular granulated sugar in place of fine granulated sugar.
5. In place of the bond paper that the recipe calls for, use parchment paper. 6. The cookies should be pale golden.
To read Jessie Cacciola's review of The Gourmet Cookie Book, in which this recipe appears, click here.