Perfect citrus pasta

Macaroons are a popular treat during Hanukkah, but one little cookie can contain around 17 grams of sugar — and who eats just one? Fortunately, Chef Rachel Albert, author of the cookbooks The Garden of Eating and The Ice Dream Cookbook, created a recipe that replaces the usual white sugar with a combination of honey (preferably raw, unfiltered, and local — support your local beekeepers!) and pure stevia extract powder, which is naturally sugar-free. For a seasonal citrus twist, she adds orange extract and zest as well.

Chef Albert shared this wheat-free, grain-free, and dairy-free macaroon recipe during one of her cooking classes at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona. If you get the chance to attend one of her classes, be sure to come hungry and bring a notebook — she’s generous with delicious samples, and she shares a ton of healthy cooking tips.

Chef Rachel Albert’s Favorite Macaroons  

“These wheat-free, grain-free, dairy-free treats are easy to assemble. The combination of honey and stevia, a noncaloric herbal swetener, reduces the need for refined sugar. The coconut improves immune function, so bar any guilt about making or eating these.”

Hands-on: 30 minutes/ Cooking: 20 to 25 minutes / Yield: 24 macaroons

Ingredients:

4 egg whites from large or extra-large eggs (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/3 cup honey


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1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder (do not substitute stevia extract liquid)

1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons pure orange extract

1 to 1 ½ teaspoons orange zest

2 cups unsweetened, sulfite-free, finely shredded coconut; additional 1/4 to 3/4 cup if needed

Virgin-pressed coconut oil or palm shortening to grease baking sheets

1 1/2 to 2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate (optional)

Instructions:

1 Start with impeccably clean bowls and utensils.

2 Separate the whites from the yolks when the eggs are cold.


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3 Crack each egg into a small bowl, then transfer to a 1- to 1 ½-quart metal, copper, or glass bowl (larger for a double batch). If yolk breaks, set the entire egg aside for another use, then use a new bowl the crack the remaining eggs. Even a tiny trace of yolk can prevent the whites from forming stiff peaks. Let whites stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

4 Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (lower if your oven runs hot). Oil a large cookie sheet, or line with unbleached parchment paper and then oil, or use a Silpat nonstick bake liner.

5 Using an electric mixer or beaters on medium speed, beat the whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form when mixer is turned off and beaters are lifted. Gradually add honey, then stevia and orange extract and zest. Turn off mixer.

7 Gently fold coconut in with a wide wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Whites may deflate — don’t panic. Add additional coconut, a little at a time if batter appears wet and loose. You want it to be stiffer than meringue batter, but not as stiff as cookie dough.

8 To test, place a spoonful of batter on a baking tray. It should stand in a mound ¾-inch thick. If it threatens to run, add more coconut.

9 Drop batter by level tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet(s), creating an oval shape, or use 2 spoons to make a round shape or an upward chocolate kiss shape. If the last bit of batter looks too thin, add more coconut.

10 Bake in the center of the oven until set and lightly brown around edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. Immediatelly remove the cookies from the tray(s) by slipping a thin metal spatula under the edge of each cookie and sawing back and forth. Cool macaroons on wire racks.

Optional: For a fancy finish, melt the unsweetened baker’s chocolate, then dip the bottom half of each cooled macaroon into the chocolate and place on a parchment-lined tray. Drizzle more chocolate over the tops and allow to cool.