December 10, 2012

12 Days of Cookies: Day the Eighth
(Chocolate Cherry Coconut Macaroons)

There's nothing better than a macaroon. 

Obviously, that statement is a date-based opinion.  Tomorrow I might be telling you that there's nothing better than pulled pork.  Or a cruller.  Or banana quesadillas [trust me: it's a thing].

But today I'm championing the macaroon, and here's why: it's delicious, and even a monkey could make it.   That's a winning combination.  You know, in case you were laid up in bed with two broken legs, a horrible cookie craving, and a macaque.  Crisis averted.

The simplest macaroon recipes I've seen have only two ingredients: coconut and sweetened condensed milk.  If they're really fancy, a pinch of salt is thrown in there.  And that's beautiful.  Because everyone has to start baking somewhere, and it's nice that there's a non-threatening option, something without pastry wheels and laminated doughs.

And once you've mastered that, try bumping it up with these little monkeys: coconut milk and toasted coconut to drive home that subtle flavor, dried cherries for a sweet-tart kick, and chocolate.  Because, well, Chocolate.  As Fine Cooking says, they're somewhere between a cookie and a truffle.  And that's just fine with me.

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Macaroons
from Fine Cooking

Sweetened Shredded Coconut  [ 1 3/4 cups ]
Cream of Coconut  [ 2/3 cup ]
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder  [ 1/3 cup ]
Egg Whites  [ 2, large ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Salt [ 1 pinch ]
Dried Cherries  [ 3 ounces, coarsely chopped ]

1.   Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2.   On a cookie sheet, spread 1 1/2 cups of the Coconut.
3.   Bake, stirring often, until a little of the Coconut has turned light-golden brown.  This should take 8-10 minutes.
4.   Let Coconut cool; turn off oven.

5.   Whisk together Cream of Coconut, Cocoa, Egg Whites, Vanilla Extract and Salt.
6.   Mix in Dried Cherries and Toasted Coconut.
7.   Cover bowl; refrigerate until cold and firm  [ this will take at least 2 hours ].

8.   Heat oven to 325 degrees.
9.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
10.   Roll Mixture into balls, with about 1 heaping tablespoon of Mixture per ball.  [ It may help to have wet hands for this step. ]
11.  Place on sheet, keeping about 2 inches between Macaroons.
12.   Place a pinch of remaining Untoasted Coconut on the top of each Macaroon.
13.   Bake about 20 minutes.  Coconut Topping should be golden and outsides should not be sticky, but insides will still be soft.
14.   Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Makes about 20 cookies.

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