Monday, December 24, 2012

Coconut Macaroons (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

Today you are witnessing a seasonal miracle.  

Not only because this post happened at all (anyone else feel like they've relocated to the mall this month?  Hey, at least it's rent free!), but because these cookies fixed themselves...overnight. 

You were about to read, yet another "fail" post.

You were going to hear less about cookies an more about my adorable sister.  (It's her bday!  And you are still going to hear about her...because she's awesome!)

You were about to suffer through my spiel on how I made the wrong decision in the whole "egg whites vs. sweetened condensed milk" debate.

But not anymore.

Because after many...MANY...last minute additions and "tweaks" to salvage a poorly composed recipe, these turned out pretty dang good.  
You may not even like coconut.

That's okay.  Because I don't either.

So don't think of these as "coconut."

I agree, coconut is yucky.

It's slightly foamy and has the texture of hair. 

But that's before it is toasted to crispy perfection and smothered in chocolate.

Trust me.  If I can be won over.

So can you.
My sister made these several years back because she is a Co. Co. Nut. Fa. Na. Tic.

And I tentatively tasted one out of sisterly duty.  
But man, oh man.  

Flavor-wise.  Texture-wise.  These were A++ in this coconut haters book. 

And this week, was my amazing sister's birthday.

She's the type of sister everyone should have.

She gets giddy over the same things.  Disneyland at Christmas?  25th Anniversary of Phantom of the Opera?
She shares the same curly hair.  Swapping war stories. 
And anytime there's an awesome song that begs to be sung in harmony, I know who to call.  Ah, back before Glee turned to crap, she took all the Lea Micheles and I tackled the Idina Menzels.

So maybe these things don't seem all that exciting to you, but just imagine having someone get you in all the weird ways nobody else does.  

Clearly, macaroons were in order. 

Only problem.  
We couldn't track down that original recipe anywhere. 
So began the long journey through research and trial and error.

In the end it came down to one pivotal question:

To use sweetened condensed milk or to use egg yolks?

After much deliberation, meditation, and constructing pro/con lists, I decided the promise of chewy cookies was too enticing and went the milk route. 

But then I found Paula Deen.
And she used both.

Like a boss.
But I don't know what the heck she was smokin' at the time of this recipe's inception, but something here was off...way off.

My first batch was basically cooked sweetened condensed milk.

Not what I was going for at all.

I want a mouthful of coconut, not gooey sticky sweetness.

To each batch, I added progressively more and more coconut...until I was completely out.

But by that time I had tasted so many of these that the last thing I ever wanted to taste again was one of my coconut macaroons.

I wrapped them up, went to bed, and hoped my sister's love for coconut was deep.

But then something amazing happened.

I am convinced I was visited by some Christmas Elves.  The same ones that came to help that old shoemaker.  Remember them?  Ya, we're like totally buds now.

Anywho.  The next day, I was prepping them for pictures when I decided to absentmindedly pop one in my mouth.  

Glory, Hallelujah!  
These were yummy!

The chocolate, the coconutty crunch, it was all there.

It don't know if it was elves,
Or time needed for the flavors to meld,
Or air needed to dry them out a little bit,
Or, you know, elves...

But it was a Christmas, Seasonal, Birthday, Extravaganza miracle.


Below is my "adjusted" recipe.
Coconut Macaroons
adapted from Paula Deen: The Food Network

1 - 14 oz Bag (6 Cups) Flaked Coconut
1 - 14 oz Can (1 Cup) of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Egg Whites
1 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
2 Cups of Chocolate Chips
1 Cup of White Chocolate Chips
Sprinkles (optional)
Parchment Paper

Preheat Oven to 325F
Bake 12-16 Minutes
Makes Approx. 30 cookies
How to Tint Coconut:
1) In a ziploc bag, add about 7 drops of desired food coloring.
2) Seal bag and give a good shake.
3) Add coconut.  Seal.  Shake.
4) Add more color as needed.  If you are just doing one color, then you can do this right beforehand.
    However, if you want to do two colors then you need to do this leaving plenty of time for the
    coconut to dry thoroughly.  I'm thinking overnight.  Or else you'll get purple coconut me. :)
1) Preheat oven to 325F degrees
2) To speed up the egg white process (you will beat them still stiff), stick a medium sized bowl in the
    freezer.  The egg whites need to be cold when whipped so to start off with a cold bowl helps.
3) In the meantime, you can mix coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt in another bowl.
    Stir until well coated.
4) Take bowl out of freezer and add egg whites.  Beat until they form stiff peaks.  It'll be a few minutes.
    Be patient. To test, press beaters into eggs and pull up.  They should be firm and not runny.
5) Fold egg whites into the coconut mixture, until just combined.
6) Drop teaspoon fulls of coconut batter onto a greased baking sheet about an inch apart. You may 
    need to form them a little with your hand after dropping on cooking sheet as they tend to spread.
7) Bake for 12-16 minutes, until the coconut on the outside starts to turn golden-brown.
8) Take cookies out of the oven, and let them sit for 1 minute before placing them on a cooking rack.

Chocolate Dip:
1) Start with cookies that are thoroughly cooled.
2) In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips in 30 second increments until melted.  Stir well 
    between each heating.
3) Dip the bottom of each cookie into the bowl, scrape off any excess with a spoon and place on 
    parchment paper to cool.
4) Melt white chocolate in a similar fashion.  Transfer to a ziploc bag and cut a small piece out of one of 
    the corners.  Drizzle the tops as desired.
5) These will cool and harden on their own, but to speed up the process you can place in the 
6) If you are going to use sprinkles, use before chocolate dries.  You can sprinkle them over the top, or 
    dip the bottoms into them. 
And the biggest miracle is that I only ate three, before remembering these were someone's present.
Happy Birthday Sister!


And A Very Merry Christmas to you all!!

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