Crooning over macaroons

March 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

This might be a culinary sin to admit, but I don’t really like chocolate chip cookies. I mean, sure, if offered one I’d likely eat it, but given options, I’d almost never pick one off a dessert tray, nor would I ever shell out my own money to buy one. For example, while many Minnesotans line up in droves to buy buckets of Sweet Martha’s Cookies at the State Fair every summer, I quickly skirt by on my way to the corn on the cob. For some reason, the chocolate chip cookie is just too sweet for me, sometimes sickeningly so. It’s not that I don’t like chocolate, I LOVE chocolate (at least the dark stuff), but over and over, I’ve found these cookies to simply be too much for my taste buds. That said, if the cookie were oatmeal chocolate chip, especially like the ones from Tank Goodness, or included raisins, I’d definitely be more inclined to give it a go. Not sure why the oatmeal and raisins change things (no, it has nothing to do with thinking it might be healthier, I’m not delusional), but it does.

All that to say that there is another cookie which I would eat every time, and then probably two or three, given the chance. And that, my friends, is the coconut macaroon.

Now, I realize I might sound a bit strange, not liking chocolate chip, but swooning over macaroons and all, but seriously, though I know they’re far from societies go-to cookie, I don’t think I’ve met one I didn’t like. The crunchy caramelized outer “crust” with the soft, chewy inside. Slightly sweet, yet rarely does the sweetness dominate. The unique, slightly buttery flavor of the coconut. It all comes together in one perfect treat.

Given my love of macaroons, I’ve been itching to try making a batch for some time. I had some coconut from another recipe and figured it would be a good way to use it up, so I began the recipe search. I quickly found that, while the ingredients are relatively universal, their proportions and methods for mixing are not. One recipe called for whisking the egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water, mixing in the other ingredients and then letting it chill for two hours – I decided that one was better left for another time when I had all afternoon. Some recipes called for coconut flakes, while others recommend shredded – I actually had grated, which is quite different, but I decided to try it anyway. All have a sweetener, but are about split down the middle as to whether that is sugar or sweetened condensed milk. Some are dipped in chocolate or drizzled in caramel, while others mix in nuts or dried fruit. There seem to be endless possibilities. In the end, I found a recipe that created a smaller batch of plain macaroons, which I figured was a good place to start as my first try.

MY NOTES: With the ingredient proportions from that recipe, I used a few of the techniques I’d seen on others, including whisking the Macaroonsegg whites and sugar together (but not over the boiling water) until they were a bit fluffy, as well as folding in the coconut last. I ended up baking mine about 16 minutes at 325º F.  What came out of the oven looked a lot like many macaroons I’ve eaten, though the texture was definitely different given the grated coconut. The outside crust was nice and crunchy, though the overall cookie a bit drier than I hoped. Also, it was slightly less sweet than I expected. Upon inspection of the coconut package, I realized that the kind I had was unsweetened and also lower fat – why on Earth I had this stuff, I don’t know – two things I have since read you should not use for macaroons. The lack of fat likely explains the dryness as well. I did drizzle one with a bit of local honey and that added a hint of sweetness, as well as moisture, bringing it closer to the cookie I love.

Overall, I like how simple of a cookie macaroons are to make and am satisfied I’ve finally ventured into baking them. Next time though, I’ll get myself some fresh, sweetened and full fat coconut shreds.

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“Anything goes,” so they say. Bebop-a-rebop rhubarb… jam

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