Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Disappearing Macaroons

I should have started this blog several weeks ago.  I've already failed to document two batches of ricotta (I am never buying ricotta from a store EVER again), two batches of lemon verbena shortbread, the yogurt I made for my mom, and some very easy and very tasty maple chipotle roasted pepitas.  But, I've finally found a name for the blog, and I finally found my camera.  So here goes!

I have this wonderful folder made up of recipes that I'd like to try one day, for which I don't have the time, or the right ingredients, or the energy to make at the time that I find them.  So I bookmark the website and save it for a rainy day.  On Sunday, Mama Bear and I went to our favorite candy store: Edwards Freeman Nut Company.  It's in Conshohocken and if you have a sweet tooth you HAVE TO VISIT.  Like, now.  Especially since the holidays are coming up.  Their selection is RIDICULOUS.  They've posted a sign on the door that says "ALL CHILDREN MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT" and it's necessary.  The place is packed nearly floor to ceiling with gummis, chocolate, dried fruit, novelty candy, nuts, coffee, baking supplies, and house-made snack mixes.  They have the widest variety of dried fruit for sale I've found this side of the Atlantic.  They sell raw, local honey.  They specialize in Asher's Chcolates, a local chocolate company run by a true philanthropist.  They have a WALL of seasonal treats that's updated from holiday to holiday.  They sell bulk nuts!  Well, ok, I don't really care about the nuts, but my parents do. 

On this particular visit, I bought 8 ounces of sweetened shredded coconut.  Not with a particular recipe in mind, just a vague recollection that every time I went recipe hunting I found recipes that required coconut.  I figured I'd just make my life easier by having some on hand.  Later that day, I was perusing my collection of Rainy Day recipes, and I spotted this link for Ambrosia Macaroons.  I didn't have oranges, but since they were obviously just a flavoring I substituted vanilla extract for the orange zest.  Also, since I only had 8 oz of coconut I scaled the recipe down by 2/3.
Weapons of deliciousness


1/3 stick of butter (approximately 2.5 tablespoons) at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
dash vanilla extract (approximately 1/4 tsp)
1 egg
8 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, melted in double boiler, for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 325° F.  In a medium-sized bowl, cream* the butter until fluffy, then beat in the sugar and salt.  Add the vanilla and egg and beat until combined.  Finally, mix in the coconut.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop tablespoon-sized dollops of the coconut mixture about 1" apart.  Since these don't spread very much in the oven (if at all), you could place them even closer together if necessary.
Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes until bottoms are slightly browned, peaks are toasted, and macaroons feel solid all the way through.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Optional:  Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler**.  After macaroons are cool, dip or swirl the tops in the melted chocolate and let cool until chocolate is firm.  Then, take a picture of your success before they're all eaten.  This is an important step that I failed to do.  Whoops.  Guess I'll just have to make them again.  How tragic.

Makes approximately 25-30 macaroons, depending on size.

*Creaming is a cooking term for beating with a mixer until the butter is fluffy.  This is what two-and-a-bit tablespoons of creamed butter looks like:
The purpose of creaming butter, and sometimes butter and sugar together, is simply to add air to the butter so it isn't so dense and can properly mix with other ingredients.  Butter must actually be at room temperature in order to beat it properly.  If you don't want to leave your butter out for the time it takes to come up to room temperature, I recommend microwaving it for 10 second intervals at 30% or 20% power until it's slightly soft but not melted.

**If you don't have a double boiler, you can rig one by placing a glass or other heat-resistant bowl on top of a sauce pan of hot or gently simmering water.  Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, and that the bowl will not fall into the sauce pan.

These were DELICIOUS.  The stale and dry macaroons that are served out of a can on Passover don't even come CLOSE to these.  The macaroons were chewy, slightly sweet, and full of that lovely toasted coconut flavor that is the entire reason you eat macaroons in the first place.  My parents ate them so fast I didn't have time to take a picture.  Mom told me they were the best macaroons she'd ever had.  I like to think she wasn't exaggerating.

Since these were so ridiculously easy, I'm just going to make macaroons for Passover this year.  If we don't host the seder at our house, I'll bring them with me.  Any recipe that uses so few materials with such an awesome result is a keeper. 


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