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Fruity inspirations: Tropical almond macaroons

Face it… The dark days of winter may bring the holidays, but they also bring a longing for warmer, sunnier weather. So we decided to give a tropical makeover to a classic cookie — the macaroon. The combination of dark rum, dried pineapple and either coconut or maraschino cherries should help get you into a more equatorial mood.
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Makes 60 cookies
Two 8-ounce cans almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 cup finely diced dried pineapple
Maraschino cherries (patted dry and halved) or flake coconut, to garnish

Heat the oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with kitchen parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, break up the almond paste into pieces. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the egg whites and beat again until smooth. Stir in the rum and pineapple.
Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Garnish each cookie with a well-dried cherry half or a piece of coconut. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and dry to the touch. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Nutrition information per cookie: 50 calories; 20 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories); 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 1 g protein; 5 mg sodium.

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