Fall is a great time to get together with friends, have a warm cup of tea and munch on something sweet to fell cozy inside. During that season, when the days are short and dark, we tend to crave more sugar and like to keep sweets within our reach.
Why do we crave sugar during late fall and winter? It’s because during those months, we get less sunlight, exercise less and often experience a mild form of depression, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). When that happens, we crave sugary treats to deal with the blues. The sweets cause blood sugar levels to spike, which raises blood insulin levels. This, in turn, makes the amino acid tryptophan travel up to our brains, where it’s converted to serotonin — a hormone that makes us feel happy.
This form of self-medication works, but too much sugar may lead to weight gain and other, possibly serious, health problems. So, let’s do it, but in moderation.
As you may already know, macaroons are made with almond flour or, like in this case, almond meal, and are naturally gluten free. The recipe is quite simple and calls only for “safe” ingredients for people with gluten intolerance. These are: almond flour, egg whites and sugar. To make the cookies more flavorful, I added almond extract and dipped my fingers in orange flower water while forming the dough into balls.
Being on a gluten free diet doesn’t have to mean the end of indulgence. The macaroons are delicious with their intense sweet almond flavor and a bit of a crunch. And their petite size makes them a perfect treat to savor rather than devour!❤
(yield approx. 24 macaroons)
- 11/2 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup organic sugar
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- approx. 30 whole almonds
- 1/3 cup orange blossom water
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- In a medium bowl combine almond meal, sugar, almond extract and grated zest of 1 lemon. Mix all ingredients well. Set aside.
- In another bowl, with an electric beater, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and shiny.
- Add the egg whites to the almond meal mixture and gently fold them until the dough is smooth.
- Place the prepared dough into the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 275 F.
- Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge. Dipping your fingers in the orange flower water, form the dough into small balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter.
- Take an almond and press it into the middle of a slightly flattened almond ball.
- Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the balls on the parchment sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for about 20 minutes at 275 F until golden.
- Cool completely before serving.
At first, they will be slightly chewy, but will become crispier after a day or two. Store in a cool, dry place.
Note: If you prefer the macaroons chewy, bake them for about 12-15 minutes.