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
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

First of all, wanted to say I have been a reader of 101 for a long time, and HAD to comment on this recipe for two reasons one. I grew up in Santa Ynez, close to Mendocino. I miss it so. It's a truly wonderful place. Secondly, this recipe is more like a little Italian cookie, they are called Riccarelli, from Toscana (Tuscany). You even captured one of the typical shapes in the photo. I live in Italy currently, and have had the pleasure of sampling these little babies in the region they are from, as well as from my kitchen. They are such a lovely morsel, but the addition of limoncello is genius. I usually just use a lot of Sicilian lemon zest and call it a day. If you get a chance to make them the traditional way they do in Italy, here are the ingredients (process is the same, cooking time is about 4 to 5 minutes at 220 C) 300 g almond flour (sifted) 300 g super fine sugar 1 egg white 1 1/2 lemons, zested 1 tsp vanilla 1 tbl baking powder Powdered suagr for dusting Really love this blog. Thanks for every post Heidi. HS: Thanks for thie Joy, I'll have to give them a go!

Joy

Chrissy, we have had excellent results looking for one-offf cabins and such at VRBO.com (vacation rentals by owner). Our latest was a week at a "Lotus River House" in Coloma, CA, which was right on the South fork of the American river.

MARGOT

The cabin looks so amazing! I am thinking about booking a weekend in a similar place in Cornwall, except that it has no electricity! I think your recipes will be great... make a big old stock of treats to take!

Sally

My husband made several bottles of limoncello a few months ago and am excited to have another recipe using limoncello. Something wonderful to bring to the next ladies night gathering.

Noreen Ryan

When you mentioned these in your last post I thought....."why hasn't she posted the recipe for those?,,,they sound great!" Thank you for posting, love your website, has such a nice aura.

Jan

It's so nice to see such an interesting variation on macaroons. Love the idea of adding limoncello. The possibilities now seem endless! Thanks for yet another wonderful recipe!

Dina Avila

I have got to make these, thanks so much

Paula

I love almond paste! My German nanny used to use it in the desserts she made for us. Need to make this, it'll take me back.

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)

My God, these look heavenly! And the possibilities, kirsch, and Creme de Cassis come to mind. Thanks!

Amanda at Enchanted Fig

Dear Heidi, thanks for your inspiring recipes and glorious photographs. I live in Europe and here organic stores stock a kind of almond spread that is just made or ground almonds with no aditives. it is used like peanut butter - in fact they make these will all sorts of nuts. Would that be what you are looking for? and would that work for these recipes provided I halve the quantity of almonds and make up the rest with sugar ( Odense seems to be 50/50 almods and sugar) ? I look forward to trying these out.

Sophie

Oh, I have to try those. They look great. As always, Heidi, you are an inspiration.

Adri

I will have to make these for a long trip I have next month! I've tried making my own almond paste similar to Ines's recipe above with ground almond from Berkeley Bowl. You can find it in the bulk section. They might have paste as well. At one time I was going to order a can from Blue Diamond Almonds but was 7lbs. I know you can freeze it but that was still more than I needed.

allison

These sound so great!!! I love lemon flavored desserts. Such a cute cabin too!! I would love to have a getaway place like that one day!!

jaclyn@todayslady

I'm making these right now for Labor Day Weekend! Thanks Heidi!!!!

The Healthy Apple

These look amazing can't wait to try them! And your pictures are beautiful!

Katie

This sounds just scrumptious. I think thought that I will use orange zest and find the orange brandy with the strongest orange aroma to use instead of limoncello. I never see any one putting ORANGE in these things. " Give me ORANGE poppy seed, Orangecello Macaroons... to coin a phrase.

David Teague

Heidi, I was worried. This guy with a sweet tooth the size of the Space Needle could not look at another soup, salad or pasta recipe. I needed some unapologetically sweet thing to revive my low blood sugar. This dear friend, is just the gold nugget that I was hoping for. Merci. HS: Hope you like them Tom. And you're not alone in having a giant sweet tooth. I assure you.

tom @ tall clover farm

These look divine and very tangy. The hue in the pictures is amazing!

Sneh Roy

They look so scrumptious! Lemon and almond are such a great combo. They are even kosher and non-dairy.

Karen

Beautiful light, Heidi. Craving summer light right now; the promise of days like those ahead has made my morning, thank you. Bookmarking right now.

Lucy

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