My feelings exactly.

My feelings exactly.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baking for Passover? Make These Amazingly Easy, Utterly Yummy Coconut Macaroons


So I was at this bris yesterday (woo hoo!) and a family friend bee-lined across the apartment right before the ceremony, grabbed me by the arm and fretted..."Help! I have to make something for a seder I'm attending and I don't cook. What the heck should I make?" By the color of her face, you'd think she was the one on the chopping block. Luckily, I had an easy answer: Danny's Macaroons.

Now, just in case you are one of those people who confuses meringues and macaroons...or are among those people who hate both of these desserts because you’ve eaten crappy store-bought versions of them at Passover seders...let’s set things straight.

Meringues are essentially whipped egg white and sugar, sometimes with coconut and other stuff, and they can be really gooey and crunchy and amazing (you can find my recipe on this site).  Macaroons are coconut and egg white, but they are more dense and coconut provides almost all of the heft. Very often they are made with almond paste, almond flour, or almond essence—which ain't my thing. Good almond-free macaroons—on the other hand-- are one of my favorite foods on earth. I love love love them, especially with a thin smear of good chocolate across their base.

I tried a bunch of recipes on my search for the perfect rendition of this cookie. I did it the hard way—creating my own egg white and sugar base. And I did it the sleazy easy way, with sweetened, condensed milk. The verdict: Easy aced it. This recipe, from some guy named Danny Cohen, has become such a cult favorite that this guy actually calls himself Danny Macaroon and now makes a mint selling his cookies by mail order. Save your pocket change and make them yourself. They really are stupid easy and ridiculously delicious.

One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
One 14-ounce can sweetened-condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
4-8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted in a double boiler or in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (if you are just smearing the bottom, you need less. If you plan to drizzle--which is no necessity--melt more.)

1.     Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. (I tend to beat these whites a little more than I do for most recipes. The stiffness helps keep the cookies from spreading too much. Just don't go crazy. You don't want them to be dry.) Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.

2.     Scoop tablespoon-size mounds (I make mine a little bigger, using a smallish cookie/ice cream scoop) onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 20-22 minutes, until just golden; shift sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. WATCH THESE CAREFULLY AND START CHECKING BOTTOMS OF THE COOKIES AT ABOUT 18 MINUTES. THEY ARE HIGH IN SUGAR AND THUS BURN IN A BLINK! Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.

3.   Use an icing spatula or any kind of flat blade to smear the bottoms of the macaroons with the melted chocolate, sort of pulling off the extra and letting it fall back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. You can just smack the macaroons chocolate-side down on the parchment….they will peel right off later. If you plan to drizzle, the neatest way to do it is with a pastry bag. But I know that's probably too much for most people, especially declared non-cooks like that family friend of ours. You can just take a spoon and drizzle the stuff onto the tops or skip the drizzle all together. There's plenty of chocolate on the bottom of the cookie to keep you happy. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes (or longer is fine) until the macaroons are set. Return to room temp before serving. Macaroons can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks.