I didn't get a lot of cookies growing up. My mother was a believer in fruit and cheese as snack food, not sugary stuff. Of course there was the time that I discovered her Mallomar stash in a high up cupboard.
"What's this I asked."
"Oh, that's not good for kids. It's adult, you wouldn't like the taste. Gimme that." It was quickly snatched back and put up even higher.
Of course by the time I did get my mitts on a Mallomar, I knew she'd been lying to me. But, it's true I never developed a personal taste for really sweet stuff. When my mother did bake, she made "butter" cookies always featuring this stuff...
...and baked to the size and consistency of poker chips. I was the kid no one wanted to swap with at lunch time.
My grandmothers were a different story. Both of them were excellent cooks and bakers, and they knew cookies! Butter cookies, meringues, those ladies knew treats. By far my favorite of all the things either of them made were macaroons. Italian macaroons aka Amaretti. I loved those little cookies that my relatives served with cups of espresso. Until I moved to LA and started hitting the delis, I didn't know about macaroons made with coconut. Italian macaroons are an almond based cookie, so when I first sampled the coconut variety, wow! I was hooked. But as hooked as I was, it had never occurred to me to attempt baking them.
Most macaroon recipes call for sweetened coconut, which makes them extra rich and gooey. Something that sweet was not something that I was particularly crazy about keeping in the house. Also some macaroons, have a tendency to be sticky and greasy. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not what I was looking for. Then I stumbled on a recipe from the oldest continually operating confectionary in Paris, A la mere de Famille This place has been churning out the sweet stuff for the last 250 years. They have to know what they're doing. Their recipe for macaroons looked amazing, and surprisingly did not call for sweetened coconut. I knew I had to give these cookies a try.
So, yesterday I set out to make my first batch of coconut macaroons. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. There is a minimum of ingredients here, and just about the only time consuming part is the 2 hours one has to wait for the macaroons to "dry" before putting them into the oven. Aside from that, it's a really easy recipe, and one that's going into my permanent file.
Coconut MacaroonsHere's What You Need:
3 egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 cups of shredded unsweetened coconut
Here's What To Do:
Put the egg whites in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add in the sugar.
Heat a sauce pan filled with one inch water on the stove at medium heat.
Place the bowl or the stand mixer bowl in the water.
Heat the egg whites and the sugar whisking constantly.
Keep an instant read thermometer nearby, as you want to get the mixture you're whisking up to 115 degrees.
Not there yet. Keep whisking.
As soon as the egg whites and sugar reach 115, take your bowl or your stand mixer bowl and using a beater with a whisk attachment at high speed, start whipping the stuff up.
You want to get the mixture fluffy, voluminous and cool to the touch. This takes about 10 minutes, so this is where a stand mixer really comes in handy as I discovered.
When your egg white sugar mixture is ready, add the shredded coconut.
Fold it in gently with a spatula.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Drop 1 Tbs. size mounds of batter onto the cookie sheets.
Now the waiting period. Set the macaroons out to "dry" at room temperature for 2 hours.
When you're about ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Bake the macaroons, one tray at a time for 4 minutes.
When they're lightly browned, they're done.
Take them put and set them on a cooling rack and pop the next batch in.
We've been invited to a Chanukah dinner with friends on Tuesday so I was giving these cookies a test run. Needless to say, they made the cut.
This started out being a LOT more macaroons. More like this. Store these macaroons in an airtight container for up to 2 days. But the odds of being able to keep them around for that long.... fuggedaboutit.
So there it is. Macaroons don't have to be tricky to be good, and these are damn good, otherwise those guys over in Paris wouldn't have been in business for so long. Coming up next, some Christmas cookies, and if it's cold and rainy outside, it's Idilli and sambar time inside! Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori