Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Frangelico Macaroons

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Spread
   5 cups hazelnuts
on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 10--15 minutes, until they are beginning to get brown. Remove from oven.

Place the hazelnuts and
   2 cups sugar
in a food processor bowl (metal blade) and process for many seconds until the nuts are a fine powder, but not a paste.

Add
   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
   2 Tablespoons Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur or syrup.
Process until incorporated.

With the processor running, gradually pour through the feed tube
   up to 6 egg whites
until the nuts form a smooth paste. This will take more than a minute. Do not stop the processor until the paste is formed.

Force as much dough as will fit into the cannister of a Swedish cookie press, with the star-spierced macaroon disk in place. Following directions for the press, form large macaroons onto a Silpat silicone cookie pad, or a piece of cooking parchment. Repeat until all the dough has been used - this will require two Silpat pads. Or use a miniature ice-cream scoop or a spoon.

Place the pads on cookie racks and place in the oven for about 15 minutes, reversing the racks front to back and top to bottom after 7 minutes. Remove from the oven when they are browning on top. They can cool on the pads.

Makes about 50 good-sized macaroons.

For almond macaroons, replace the hazelnuts with almonds and the Frangelico liqueur with Amaretto. Along with the almonds, add the shelled pits of about 20 apricots. Along with the vanilla, add 1/4 teaspoon good almond extract. This is based on a Basque recipe by Gerald Hirigoyen printed in the SF Chronicle.

© 2003 Richard Waldinger