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Pine Nut Macaroons, Version 2

But where is version 1, I hear you ask. I did find version 1–the Rosebud of my macaroon recipes–but only after I had resigned myself to making Version 2, found on the Odense almond paste website. I found Version 1 because while measuring ingredients for Version 2–which I adapted from a recipe on the Odense almond paste website–I remembered that Version 1 used 1/4 cup of almond paste, and was able to Google up my old friend.

Note that you might pass over Version 1 if you were reading Epicurious, because some of the reader comments are harsh, but I know better. Version 1 is an example of the Craft of Science; success with this recipe relies on negotiating a delicate balance of fluid, liquid, and binding ingredients, all of which are highly variable. The pine nuts may be fatty and moist, or not; the “large” egg whites may be too big or too small; the almond paste may be sturdy and dry, or sticky and fluid. To succeed, you must be willing to experiment; iterative testing is key. Sometimes I get it on the first try, but other times I need to tweak and tinker. This is no cookie recipe for wimps.

Version 1 of this cookie is an example of the last mile we so often face in LibraryLand: the last little bit that will make a service succeed. Spell-check in an OPAC. Better signage marketing your wi-fi. Studying what circs and what doesn’t and adjusting accordingly (and how I hate it when librarians talk about “nonfiction” circ stats, as if dreary old reference tomes duplicating stuff on the Web were equal to snappy bios or thoughtful essay collections.)

But there’s nothing wrong with Version 2: it’s an example of Easy being Good. (Though it pays to think about what you’re reading: in the original version, step 1 has you heating the oven before you begin mixing the dough, while step 4 tells you to refrigerate the dough for an hour.)

Easy But Good Pine Nut Macaroons

Note: requires a food processor.

1 box (7 oz.) almond paste
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar, packed
Finely grated rind of one lemon
2 egg whites, size large (no larger!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch salt
4 oz unsalted, shelled pine nuts (approx)

Cut the almond paste into small chunks.
Whirl the granulated sugar in your food processor for about 30 seconds.
Drop in the almond paste, powdered sugar, and lemon peel. Process until the consistency of coarse meal.
Add egg whites, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth.
Add flour. Pulse briefly. Scrape sides of the food processor, and process briefly again. Mixture should be very smooth.
Chill mixture one hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray it with nonstick spray.
Put the pine nuts in a small, shallow bowl.
Using a teaspoon and a finger, scoop up heaping teaspoonsful of dough and drop into the pine nuts. (Hint: spray the spoon with nonstick spray, and the dough won’t stick to it.) Pick up the dough (spray your fingers, as well, or dip them in water) and drop the cookies nut-side-up on a cookie sheet.

Bake 14-16 minutes, or until light golden. Start checking at 12 minutes. Cool several minutes in the pan, then gently remove to cooling racks. Store cookies in an airtight container; place waxed paper between layers.

Makes 25 cookies.

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