The amazing Cashew Macaroons, a.k.a the Tuticorin Cashew Macaroons (pronounced by the locals as ‘mak-roons’) – is but a small variant of the famous and delectable French Macaroons.
And unlike the complex French Macaroons which make you want to die inside if the ‘feet’ don’t develop, these cashew macaroons are rather more forgiving and simple.
And what makes this beloved French classic more Indian, is that it uses cashew flour instead of almond flour.
Here is a detailed expose of the Tuticorin Macaroons I found in The Hindu a while back. The reporter digs into the history, and the hidden bakeries behind the stores to discover what makes the Tuticorin Macaroon so elusive and non-reproducible – In search of the Thoothukudi Macaroon
Although we may not be able to recreate that classic cone shape in our home ovens (or in any other oven but a firewood one, arguably), we sure can recreate the texture and taste. The top is almost ceramic, and when you bite into it, the top crumbles to give way to a hollow interior, with a thick yet light, slightly chewy base. And let’s not forget the creaminess of the cashew nuts or the sweet crunch of the sugar. Yumm!
While this is a fairly simple recipe to recreate, here are a few things to keep in mind, to ensure a 100% success each time –
1) Do not over beat the eggs. Once they’ve reached their maximum volume, they cross over the threshold and go limp and liquid and wont whip back up again.
2) Slow baking at 100ºC for about 2 hours ensures that they don’t loose colour, and come out looking pristine white and shiny.
3) Line the baking tray with foil instead of baking paper. Once cooled, they come off easy with almost no effort.
4) While beating the egg whites, add a tiny pinch of salt or rub the sides of the vessel with half a lime just once, this helps stabilize the egg whites, and they will hold their shape well.
5) Try and make sure that the egg whites are clear of any yolk while separation. Any trace of yolk, will prevent the whites from rising to their full volume during whipping.
That’s it, I guess. This is probably the easiest dessert to make, although it takes a long time to bake, it is totally worth it.
Cashew Macaroons Makes about 10-15
You will be needing
– 2 egg whites (about 100gms of egg whites)
– 100gms super-fine granulated sugar. Give it a few pulses in the food processor if you have larger granules. The general ratio is one egg white to 50 gms of sugar.
– 100gms cashew nuts, pulsed in the food processer till you get a fine powder with a few large bits.
– (Optional) a pinch of cream or tartar, a tiny pinch of salt or half a lime (not squeezed)
– Make sure that the utensils and beaters are clean, free of any grease. For this reason, it is better to use a metal/glass bowl for whipping, as oil tends to hold on to plastic containers.
– Line a baking tray with foil. Preheat the oven to 100ºC.
– If you are using the cream of tartar, add it to the egg whites and move on to the next step.
– If not, rub the entire bowl with the half a lime, just to stabilize the egg whites. Don’t overdo it though, you don’t want a lime-n-lemony macaroon. A single coating will do. Alternatively, just add a tiny pinch of salt while beating. Does the same trick.
– Separate the egg whites. Make sure to bring it to room temperature. A cold egg does not whip just as well.
– Whip on high till soft peaks form. Remember, you must not over whip the eggs.
– Add the sugar one spoon at a time while continuing to whip. You will notice the mixture turning into a more ‘paste-like’ consistency.
– Once you’ve added all the sugar, stop beating, rub a little bit of the mix between your index finger and thumb. It should be satiny smooth and not grainy (from any undissolved sugar). You must also see the batter form a stiff peak when held up.
Here’s a fun test: To see if the meringue is ready, hold the bowl upside down, and the meringue won’t fall down.Try this at your own risk. 🙂
– Gently fold in the chopped cashews. Do not stir. Just fold. If you want to add gel/powder colours (no liquid colours please), you may do so now. At this point, it’s like walking on a minefield. Overdoing the beating or stirring or folding, will cause the meringue to loose stability and go runny.
-Immediately drop spoonfuls (or use piping bags to form shapes) onto the foil-lined baking tray.
– Bake at 100ºC for 2 hours (You may check around 1 hour 45 minutes and remove if it feels hollow and comes off the tray without effort).
The macaroons must be hard on the outside and the base. Try lifting the
foil just a bit, and knocking the macaroons on the tray. You should hear
a hard knocking sound. Let it cool inside the oven for a while (door held slightly ajar), and
they should come off the tray with no resistance. Store in an
air-tight container once they are cooled. Meringue based cookies can go
soft and sticky when exposed to air. Keeps well for a week.