Fennel Macarons With Fresh Mint Date Filling 15.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2013 Dec 4, 2013

The subtle, complex filling flavor was inspired by Ladurée, the famous French bakery and confectionery.

Silan is a syrup made from dates and is sometimes labeled "date molasses." It is available at Mediterranean markets and in some natural foods stores. Although not much of it is called for here, it's worth having on hand. Drizzle it over salads, desserts, pancakes and roasted vegetables; use in vinaigrettes and salty-sweet sauces.

You'll need a large pastry big fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. See TIPS, below.

Make Ahead: The unbaked cookies need to air-dry for 30 minutes. The filling can be refrigerated, without the mint, up to 3 days in advance. The cookie tops and bottoms can be baked, cooled and stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The macarons are best assembled just before serving.

15 sandwich cookies

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 15 sandwich cookies

  • For the cookies
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) finely ground almonds
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed, freshly ground
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (may substitute superfine sugar)
  • For the filling
  • 4 ounces regular or low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature (do not use nonfat)
  • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon date syrup (silan, see headnote; may substitute honey)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint


For the cookies: Whisk together the ground almonds, confectioners' sugar and freshly ground fennel seed in a large bowl. Pick through and discard any large bits.

Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment) or hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form, then add the cane sugar in three additions to form a meringue that is stiff and glossy.

Use a large metal spoon to gently fold the almond mixture into the egg whites until well incorporated. The batter should be slightly loose and somewhat dry. Spoon into the pastry bag.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, dabbing a few drops of water or batter under each corner of the paper to hold it in place. Pipe 30 small disks about 1 inch across, spacing them 1/2 inch apart (see the TIPS, below). Air-dry for 30 minutes, so a slight skin forms on the exterior; this will help them keep their shape as they bake.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, leaving the oven door slightly ajar. They should be pale and golden. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the cream cheese, dates and date syrup in a mixing bowl. Stir until smooth, creamy and well incorporated. If serving right away, stir in the mint. (If not, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Stir in the mint just before you assemble the macarons.)

Match 15 pairs of equal-size cookie tops and bottoms. Pipe or spoon the filling on the flat sides of half the macarons. Refrigerate to set for a few minutes before serving.

TIPS: To pipe out macaron batter, use one hand to hold the pastry bag twisted and closed at the top and the other hand to guide the tip. Hold the bag straight up and down, with the tip close to the parchment paper or silicone liner. Use your top hand to squeeze out a round blob of batter 1 inch in diameter. Don't try to draw a circle and fill it in; the results are more likely to be irregular. You might find it helpful to draw 1-inch circles on the parchment paper as guides; turn the paper over and pipe onto the non-penciled side. You'll have no trouble seeing the guide lines.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Sun Bread and Sticky Toffee: Date Desserts From Everywhere," by Sarah al-Hamad (Interlink, 2013).

Tested by Leanne Guido.

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