Limoncello Macaroons

These limoncello macaroon cookies are golden-crusted, powder-coated, almond-citrus gems spiked with limoncello liqueur.

Limoncello Macaroons

I packed a number of things for last weekend's getaway to Mendocino. One pair of flip-flops, one book, a stack of magazines, a bottle of bubbles, ten rolls of film, three cameras, a tripod and a bag of limoncello macaroons. I bookmarked these Pinched Orange Macaroons a while back, and when my sister gave me a bottle of limoncello (made from lemons in her yard), I decided to do a twist on Patrick Lemble's cookies using the homemade citrus liqueur and zest. I thought they'd be a nice little treat for the cabin.

Close-up of Limoncello Macaroons on Baking Sheet
The cookies are made primarily from almond paste and they bake into golden-crusted, powder-coated, almond-citrus gems. A tad messy to make, but well worth it. They've become one of my all-time favorite little cookies.

Perfect Place for Macaroon Treats - Cabin in Mendocino Woods

Before we dive into the minutiae of macaroon cookie making, I thought I'd share a few photos. For those of you who have missed previous mentions of the cabin, it is waaay off the grid, and a bit rustic - in the very best way possible. I like to sit on the porch and do a whole lot of nothing. We played board games and cards, cracked jokes, and talked a lot about the mountain lion that has been spotted at the cabin over the past few months.
Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

The mountain lion seemed like an abstract concept to me. Abstract in the way that I know there are bears around when I go camping, but I don't really think about it much because they don't bother me. There's a difference here. This mountain lion has apparently killed a couple goats in the area. And then, there's that photo up above. Lori & Lisa's cousin rode down the driveway on his quad one afternoon to show us. He'd rigged a motion capture camera near his cabin, just up the road a bit, and apparently the camera captured that frame. It's hard to tell from my picture, but I assure you, that cat is large.
Limoncello Macaroon Recipe
So, for the most part we stuck around the cabin. Or traveled in a pack when we were out and about. On the food front, Lori made an amazing grilled eggplant, arugula, and mozzarella salad as part of our dinner Saturday night, and if she posts it or publishes it at some point, I'll be sure to link to it and give you all the heads up. Strong, garlicky, and good. She makes a mean panzanella as well.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

As far as the limoncello macaroons are concerned, let me say a few things. First off, they travel quite well. And while they seemed to be at their absolute peak roughly thirty minutes after baking, I placed the cooled cookies in a sealed plastic bag, and they were delicious for days. There wasn't as much textural difference between the outside crust and the super-moist middle after being bagged, but they were still 90% as good. They're perfect for a holiday cookie assortment.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe
They're also made from one of the simplest batters imaginable. I made one batch following Patrick's original technique, then took a shortcut with the second batch which you'll see reflected in my version of the recipe below. In short, I found I didn't really need to do an egg wash/powder. I found the dough was quite moist. I threw a good amount of powdered sugar down on the counter top and shaped the cookies from there. They had a nice powdered sugar coating without the extra step. If you find you're not getting enough of a powdered sugar coating before baking, give each ball of dough a light brushing of egg white and a quick roll in more powdered sugar.
Limoncello Macaroons on A Baking Sheet
If you're still on the hunt for more treats, here's where you can find all the cookie recipes. I'll forever love classic shortbread cookies, I'd argue these are the best ginger cookies and please, please give these snickerdoodles a go. They're kissed with saffron and vanilla, really something special.

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Limoncello Macaroons

5 from 2 votes

The original recipe is an almond paste base enhanced with Grand Marnier as a flavor accent. But I can imagine taking these cookies in many different directions. This time around I went the lemon route, but if you can imagine an ingredient pairing well with sweet almonds, you might try it here. I used two tubes of Odense almond paste here, but be interested if any of you know of a good, pure almond paste make from organic almonds. Also, be sure to buy almond paste, not marzipan.

Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white
  • 14 oz / 400g almond paste
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus quite a bit more for surface and coating
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • scant 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Instructions
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Beat the egg white, the almond paste, confectioners' sugar, and almond extract together either by hand or with an electric mixer, until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the zest, limoncello, and salt and beat until combined, another 30 seconds.
  3. Coat a clean/dry surface with a generous handful of sifted confectioners' sugar then turn the dough out onto it. Shape and roll out the dough into two 3/4-inch thick logs, roughly 18 inches long. Cut each log into 24 equal pieces (see photo). Make sure each piece is entirely coated in sugar, tapping to remove excess.
  4. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. They don't spread much so you can crowd them a bit more than you might with other cookies. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C degrees. Use three fingers to gently pinch each piece of dough to form an irregular pyramid shape of you like, or you can leave them pillow shaped. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, I also like them deeply golden, it's a matter of personal preference really, but baking for a few extra minutes will achieve this. Transfer the cookies from baking sheets to wire racks, and let cool completely. These cookies keep well in an air-tight container for a few days.
Notes

Makes 4 dozen bite-sized cookies.

These cookies are a riff on the Pinched Orange Macaroons by Patrick Lemble (executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons restaurant, New York City) highlighted in the December 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Serves
48
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
 
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Comments

what kind of camera do you use?? i love your photos.... HS: Thanks Michele, I took my Pentax, my DSLR, and a little 35mm Ricoh on this trip. I have a bit of a revolving cast of cameras in my life.

michele

These sound lovely and refreshing and perfect for this hot weather (and probably also for the dead of winter when citrus abounds). I like the addition of a pinch of sea salt to contrast with the sugar and acidity. And I love a cookie with no flour, too!

Erin

Heidi, what a lovely weekend getaway (lucky you didn't come across the mountain lion but I'm curious) and the macaroons look fabulous! I still have some limoncello left that I made a couple of years ago so will give it a try, thank you! Hi Keiko! Hope you've had a great summer.

keiko

I've got a bottle of lemoncello in the freezer and I can't wait to make these cookies!

Laura @ Family Spice

That cabin is beautiful and now I've got a song by the Essex Green in my head called Mendocino! I made some limoncello a few years ago to give as gifts for xmas and I'm wishing I had some around to make these cookies. They look like the perfect little bites.

kickpleat

These look and sounds gorgeous. I'm not sure where to find almond paste down here. Do you think I could just sweeten some almond butter with sugar and use that?

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

    Hi Joe - nope, it's an entirely different beast I'm afraid.

    Heidi Swanson

Oh I love all these photos and the macaroons look delicious!

Simply Life

wow, those look amazing. I just got turned onto almond paste when I made David Lebovitz's almond cake (amazing!! btw). The almond paste has such a great taste and texture! However I'm confused and wonder if you might offer a mini dissertation on macaroons. I thought macaroon, by definition, was those piles of egg-white cookies. I'm aware of macarons, as well, and this seems like a somewhat simplified version of those. Am I on the right track? Or are these just labels that don't really signify much?

bethh

I have all of these ingredients in home at this moment. Perhaps I will get to try this out over the weekend. They look delicious, thanks!

Le Stoner Gourmand

I've had a bottle of limoncello forgotten in a cabinet since my last trip to Italy - I think it's time to break it and try this recipe. Thanks for the push!

Ana Sofia

Heidi! yum yum yum! Last time I went to Russian River I made greek lemon cookies. I am definitely going to be making these soon! Thanks.

mj

I love Limoncello - reminds me of living in Italy... I need a remote cabin, a bottle of bubbly and some macaroons for this labor day weekend. I am dying for a retreat!

Jamie Walker

Those look AMAZING. I need to try them immediately!

figandfennel

yes, please. I love the lemon/almond combination, one of my all time favorite flavor pairings.

Nishta

These look absolutely incredible. I want to make them this minute! Is it possible to make my own almond paste or is it one of those things that definitely has to be purchased?

Stephanie

Are you sure those aren't gnocchi? ;)

A Teenage Gourmet

These look wonderful. I'm a great fan of anything including both almond and lemon, especially dessert! Thank you for the great recipe!

jodye @ 'scend food

Hi I look at your blog vey often and now a wonderful recipe! I live in the South of Italy, the limoncello region...so now I must do it! thanks Gio

Gio

Oh I always get excited when I find these in cafes but didn't have the foggiest how to search for a recipe for them. They look fab, can't wait to try them!

Alicia

Is it bad to admit that I've never tasted limoncello before let alone a homemade one? They sound divine though! Would love to give it a try because I'm also a big lover of macaroons. Beautiful shots! I'm still drooling over both your recipe and photography. Do you use film? HS: Hi Prerna, I primarily shot film here - 35mm & 120. Although I did take my DSLR out a number of times over the course of the weekend.

Prerna@IndianSimmer

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