Cook the Book: Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons

Cook the Book: Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons

There are so many foods that we associate with France. Croissants, baguettes, brie, foie gras—the list goes on and on. For me, nothing embodies the essence of France more than the hamburger-shaped French sweet known as a macaron. Those who are fans of macarons are surely familiar with Pierre Hermé, the godfather of macarons, based in Paris. While his macarons are perfect texturally and taste-wise, they are most distinguished due to the flavor combinations that Hermé uses: rose petal, wasabi and grapefruit, and jasmine, just to name a few.

Macaroons are more common in the U.S. than French macarons. The macaroons that we know start out with a traditional recipe of whipped egg whites and sugar, adding shredded coconut for a pleasingly chewy texture. Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice is a big fan of both maracons and macaroons, and has included this recipe for Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons in her new cookbook. These Indian-spiced macaroons might give Hermé a run for his money.

Note: Don't use wax paper when baking; it will smoke in the oven. Parchment paper works best here.

Win 'Modern Spice'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Modern Spice to give away this week.

  • Yield:35 to 38 small macaroons


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • One 14-ounce package shredded sweetened coconut
  • 10 ounces sweetened condensed milk (such as Eagle brand) from a 14-ounce can
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 small egg whites, whipped into peaks (see Notes)


  1. 1.

    Heat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spraying it with nonstick spray.

  2. 2.

    Combine the coconut, condensed milk, cardamom, saffron, and salt in a bowl. (It will form a mixture that is not like typical cookie dough, but one the egg whites are folded in, the mixture will hold together.)

  3. 3.

    Gently fold in the egg whites.

  4. 4.

    Using a spoon, mold the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place 1 inch apart on the prepared pan.

  5. 5.

    Bake the macaroons for 14 to 16 minutes, until the exterior is very slightly brown, the middle is soft, and the bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.

  6. 6.

    Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

  7. 7.

    Serve at room temperature. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

  8. 8.

    Use room temperature eggs for whipping. I like to add a touch of lemon juice, salt, or cream of tartar to help the eggs get to the peaks. Once you begin to whisk them and they reach the soft peak stage, stop. If you continue to beat them, the proteins will break down and you will have a soft mess on your hands.