Saturday, March 15, 2014

assorted macaroons - welcome to america

Oh boy! Macaroons! I sure love me some of those mini french sandwich cookies that are soooo in style right now. You're really showing us how to make those Chef Chow? EH-UH! That was supposed to be the sound a buzzer makes. No I'm showing you how to make the american coconut macaroons. You know the you always shy away from because they're way too sweet macaroons. The only difference is, mine are delicious!

Now I know not all of you think that they're overly sweet but I do, and so do the members of my weekly, overly sweet macaroons club. But you don't have to worry because I found two tricks to cut the sweetness of the macaroons so they taste just perfect! The first trick is to toast your coconut flakes before you actually bake the cookies. This way the initial sugar from the sweetened coconut gets caramelized, and all you're left with is a deep coconut flavor. My second tip is to add different flavorings. Macaroons are often too sweet because there's no flour or butter to absorb the sugar. Adding citrus or nuts can balance the flavor, and not to mention show people that you aren't just a one-trick pony. 

This year I made three different flavors, and at the end I couldn't pick a favorite. I made cranberry orange, double chocolate, and an homage to one of my favorite candy bars, "Almond Joy" macaroons. Dare I say they were all equally delicious. So to start these cookies we need to make our macaroon base. Which starts with the toasting of our sweetened coconut shreds. Which will go in a 350 oven. By the way if you want to use fresh coconut click the link to read my previous post on how to do that.

Sprinkle your coconut evenly on a baking sheet and slide them into the middle rack of your oven. Of course I took a picture of my greased mat but I ended up forgetting about it in the sink. Lucky for me though my coconut did not stick so I'm pretty proud of that. Yes, those are things that I'm proud of. Every 5 minutes stir the pan so everything crisps evenly. Your coconut flakes should take between 15- 20 minutes but don't leave the room. Coconut is notorious for burning. If it doesn't see you looking at it it'll get upset so watch it like a hawk...because it'll be watching you. *Dramatic Music*

But on a less creepy note after 15 minutes my coconut flakes looked like this. Oh so beautiful. You could really just eat them like this as a snack but your patience will be rewarded. So the next step is to make the meringue. A meringue is just egg whites beaten with sugar until thick and glossy. This is one of the few things I take out my hand mixer for because it's gonna take a while. Approximately 8-10 minutes with a hand mixer, or a stand mixer. Stop when you've reached stiff peaks. Which basically means that they should be able to hold their shape. You'll know when the wake of the meringue stays it's place. If you're still confused just look at the picture. Remember if your bowl is dirty or if some yolk leeches itself into your egg whites you won't reach desired stiffness. 

It's important that you whisk your eggs long enough because then your macaroons will fall apart. After your meringue has tripled in volume and has reached stiff peaks whisk in your vanilla and salt. 

Switch to your handy dandy spoonula and divide into three parts. Separate into bowls and fold in whatever flavorings you want, including your coconut. You can be as creative as you want in this step. Meringues are basically blank canvases so you can't really go wrong - unless you go wrong. The only thing you want to be mindful of is not to alter the consistency of the meringue. If you add too much liquid then your cookies will fall apart, and the same goes for adding too much other stuff. It's also important not to over mix these. All you want to do is fold the mixture until it's barely combined. Your mindset should be, I still have about 3 mixes left, I'll stop here. Remember when you're scooping these out they will continue to mix. The key is not to destroy those little air bubbles that are trapped in the meringue. You worked hard for those. By the way the variations and flavorings that I conjured up are in the recipe below so pop down there if you can't figure out what to put in yours. 

Now we are going to take our 1 inch ice cream scoop and plop them on a well greased cookie sheet. Try to make them all the same size, you should get about 12 macaroons per flavor. It depends on how precise you were at dividing those meringues, which in my case was not very well, but I have faith that you will do better. You can place these guys fairly close to each other because they won't expand, but for photography reasons I kept them a good distance apart. Place these in the middle rack of your preheated 350 oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the macaroons are golden brown. When you take these out they will be dry to the touch, the outsides will be golden, but they will still jiggle. That's normal as they cool they will firm up substantially and you'll be looking at one hell of a cookie, if I do say so myself. 

If you made these in the flavors that I suggested you should have three ascending shades of goldenness. The "almond joy" will be the lightest colored, the orange cranberry will be slightly tanner, and the chocolate will be the Tracy Morgan of the three. If you don't know who that is you should know I'm not a racist, but that's the first place my mind went. Just for the record I'm a huge fan so if you're reading this please comment below. 

Once you've finish taking pictures - which is optional, you're done!

I like to serve my assorted macaroons along side some coffee or on a festive holiday platter. Make sure you alternate flavors so people know you took the effort to create different types of macaroons. Why go through all the trouble if the message that, "I'm better than you", isn't getting across. 

Your friends and family will be so impressed that you knew how to make these and so will yourself. These macaroons are lightly crispy on the outside, but super chewy on the inside. My guests said that they weren't overly sweet and that the orange cranberry was there favorite. I still can't choose a favorite, it's like asking someone who there favorite 1 Direction member is, you can't decide. 

But in all seriousness I'd like to thank everyone who read today's post, leave a comment below on how I can improve or if you think I'm perfect. Subscribe if you haven't, and check back daily for new chow-fections. And as always, 



For Macaroon Base
3 cups of toasted sweetened coconut flakes
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For Cranberry Orange Macaroons
1/3 cup of dried cranberries
the zest of one orange

For "Almond Joy" Macaroons
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup of chopped or sliced almonds ( I used cashews and they were still delicious)

For Double Chocolate Macaroons
1 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Measurements for each variation are for a third of the base*

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