Honey Macaroons are oven-baked biscuits soaked in syrup. The Greeks traditionally make them as a once-a-year special Christmas sweet. The beauty of Honey Macaroons is that every home-cook can make them. Most contemporary Honey Macaroon recipes involve vegetable oils and sugar. We chose to present an ultra-traditional Honey Macaroon recipe that is based on olive oil and honey. Enjoy!
Yields @35 pieces
Cooking time: @25 minutes per baking tray
You will need: one large mixing bowl, a few other mixing bowls, a sieve, a whisker, a grater, a strainer, a pot, a wooden spoon, parchment paper, one or two baking trays, one big platter and a blender.
For the Dough
- @400 gr all purpose flour – sifted
- 200 ml olive oil
- 125 ml fresh orange juice – not strained
- 30 ml of cognac or simple brandy
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tsp baking powder
- 4 Tbsp fine semolina
- 1/2 Tsp cooking soda
- 1-2 pinches of salt
- 1/2 Tsp clove powder
- 1/2 Tsp cinnamon powder
- Orange zest of 1 medium orange
For the Syrup
- 1 cup of honey
- 110 ml water
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 to 3 cloves
- Orange peel of 1 orange (the same orange you used to make the fresh orange juice)
For the Garnish
- 1/4 cup ground walnuts
- Zest of 1 small orange
- 1/4 Tsp cinnamon powder
Make the Dough
- Wash your hands.
- Sift the flour in a bowl.
- Make the orange juice and pour it in a glass or bowl.
- Add the cooking soda in the orange juice (it will fizz and bubble) and then add it in the olive oil and honey mix.
- Mix the olive oil and the honey in a wide mixing bowl.
- Add to the olive oil and honey mix the cognac or brandy, the salt, the baking powder, the orange juice, the orange zest and the spices.
- Whisk the ingredients with a whisker so that they mix well.
- When the mixture takes form, continue whisking and start adding sifted flour little by little, Tablespoon after Tablespoon.
- When the mixture starts sticking to the whisker put it on the side and gently continue mixing by hand while you keep adding flour little by little.
- The resultant dough should be wet, without clumps and not too sticky. The wetness of the dough also depends on the particular characteristics of your olive oil and honey; so, be a little careful as to how much flour you’re adding to the mix because you may not need to use it all.
- Cover the dough with a clean cloth or towel and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
Make the Macaroons
- Set parchment paper on your baking trays.
- Take a handful of dough (@30g) and use your hands to mould it like in a rounded oval shape, about 5 cm (2 in) long. See picture.
- Place the macaroons on the parchment paper, not too close together.
- Lightly press the convex (external) side of a strainer (or the fine side of a grater) onto the top side of the cookies. (The imprinted pattern will help them better absorb the syrup, later.)
- When you’re done, move the baking trays to a cooler side of your kitchen, away from the oven.
- Turn on the oven to 180C/356F and let it heat.
- Place the tray at the lower 1/3 of the oven. E.g. if your oven has 6 racks, place the tray on the 2nd rack from the bottom.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes.
- DO NOT open the oven to check progress prior to smelling the aromas of the baking macaroons – otherwise they may fall flat and never rise.
- After 25 minutes, check the bottom of the baking macaroons. If the bottom is darker then the top then the macaroons are ready. If not, leave them baking for another couple of minutes. (Do pay attention so that they are not burned.)
- Continue with the rest of the trays, baking each tray separately.
Make the Honey Syrup
As soon as the first tray is in the oven, start making the honey syrup.
- Add all the syrup ingredients in a medium size pot and give them a stir.
- Put the pot on the stove and turn on the fire to medium-low.
- Bring the mix to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes while stirring gently with a wooden spoon.
- Keep removing the foam regularly.
- After 5 minutes, turn the fire down to the lowest setting and remove the cinnamon stick, the cloves and the orange peels.
- When the macaroons are baked, remove the baking tray from the oven, and place it near the stove.
- Use a pair of tongues to start immersing your oven-hot macaroons in the honey syrup in batches of 4.
- Leave them soaking in the syrup for 20 seconds per side – a total of 40 seconds for both sides.
- Remove them from the syrup with tongues or a slotted spoon and put them back on the baking tray face down. (The idea is that you don’t want the syrup to gravitate towards the bottom of the macaroon. You want the honey syrup gravitate evenly throughout the macaroon, from the bottom to the top.)
- Keep the honey syrup warm and repeat the exercise for each baking tray.
- When finished, pour the remainder syrup over the macaroons.
The macaroons are baked and soaked. Now it’s time for the garnish.
- Put all the garnish ingredients in the blender and, well, blend them – but not to powder. See picture.
- Turn the macaroons over.
- Sprinkle the garnish on each macaroon.
- Cover the trays with parchment paper or clean towels and leave them on the counter all night so that the macaroons absorb the syrup in room temperature.
- By next day the macaroons should have absorbed all the syrup and should be ready for garnish.
- Move the Honey Macaroons from the trays to a serving platter.
- Cover the serving platter with parchment paper and keep it in room temperature.
- Honey Macaroons can last for at least one week without refrigeration. If in doubt, you can always keep some in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes on Honey Macaroons
- If so inclined, feel free to scale the recipe up by double.
- When making the honey syrup please remember that high fire makes honey toxic. Do maintain your fire to medium-low or low.
- Don’t knead the dough. You’re not making bread and you’re definitely not making pizza, so, the point here is to gently massage the macaroon dough so that it keeps the olive oil in it. Kneading the dough will only drive the olive oil to the surface, the macaroons will thicken during baking and they won’t absorb the syrup as they should.
- Do not preheat the oven while you’re making the dough. The extra heat may affect the dough’s consistency so it’s better that the kitchen’s ambient temperature is cooler than warmer.
- Bake the macaroons tray by tray and syrup them in batches of 3 or 4 pieces. You need both components (macaroons and syrup) to be hot or at least very warm. There are many recipes maintaining that during syruping one of the two components (macaroons, syrup) should be cool and the other hot. Well, one can also do it this way too and check the difference.
- If, by any chance, the macaroons dry out while in storage you can freshen them up with a bit of syrup: take a really small pot, add a couple of teaspoons of honey and a few drops of water, let the mix simmer for a few minutes in a very low fire and then pour the syrup on the macaroons. (You could also use honey straight out the jar, if you’re so inclined.)
- The syrup doesn’t contain sugar so the macaroons will not crystallize as the days go by.
- Honey has lower glycemic index than sugar and it’s full of other good stuff. For more information on the matter check here.