Chocolate Capped Macaroons, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.
Macaroons are one of those things I used to make as a preteen/teenager. Why? Because they're ridiculously simple. Most recipes require you to crack a few eggs, separate the whites, pour them into a bowl with a bit of sugar, coconut, on occasion flour, mound them, then bake. Not many ingredients needed, not much time required, and in less than an hour, viola, a crispy, chewy, mountain of sugary heaven. A combination almost deadly for a young girl with the sweetest tooth this side of the Mississippi.
When I realized I was both hosting Easter dinner, and still wanting to whip up a few Easter baskets for my loved ones I knew almost immediately what needed to be the homemade treat packed into each green plastic basket, macaroons. Last year each basket was packed full of these adorable easter nests, but I didn't have the time for any muss or fuss. I knew that Easter dinner prep would keep me busy most of Saturday evening, and surely Sunday afternoon. I wanted something that both embodied the Easter holiday, and that was reminiscent of Spring. As many times as I may have made macaroons growing up, it had (honestly) been years since this little oven had seen the coconut mountains. No longer did I have my trusty, easy recipe either. I knew my pantry had everything I needed, and even a little something extra, a bit of luscious bittersweet chocolate leftover from the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie adventure. After a bit of food blog surfing I stumbled across one of the most revered and trusted food blogs out there, Orangette. Here it was, exactly what I needed, macaroons covered with a dollop of oozing chocolate. I was planning on drizzling, but once I stumbled upon this recipe decided against it. I wanted my Easter basket receivers to get both a serious dose of the quality chocolate along with coconut. The boys here with me that night will tell you I was none to pleased about the process this recipe puts you through. It's not hard by any means, it just wasn't what teenage me was used to (my fluctuating hormones played a major role in my frustration as well I suspect). It required me to do just a little more than crack, separate, mix, mound and bake. The end result was pretty close to macaroon heaven. Not sure if they were all that much better from the childhood recipe, the easy peasy recipe, but boy were they good, and I'm pretty sure each receiver of an Easter basket was pleasantly and deliciously delighted. I know Easter has come and gone, but these could be made for any occasion any time of the year, from summer picnics to your Christmas cookie platter. Macaroons are a classic kind of cookie, simple, but guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any sweet tooth.
Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons
Via Orangette Adapted from Bon Appétit (September 2002) and the Marigold Kitchen of Madison, Wisconsin
3 cups (lightly packed) sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup egg whites (about 5 or 6 large)
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
Place the first three ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan, and stir to combine well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, about 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is pasty but not dry. (The uncooked mixture will look sort of granular at first, then creamy as it heats, and then it will slowly get drier and drier. You want to stop cooking when it no longer looks creamy but is still quite gluey and sticky, not dry.) Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts. Spread out the coconut mixture on a large baking sheet. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Using a ¼-cup measuring scoop, scoop and pack the coconut mixture into domes, and place them on the baking sheet. You should wind up with about a dozen. Bake the macaroons until golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
Set cookies on rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it is very hot and steamy (not boiling), remove from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Spoon the glaze over the macaroons, covering them almost completely and allowing the chocolate to drip down the sides. [You will have leftover glaze, which can be refrigerated or frozen.] Refrigerate the macaroons until the glaze sets, at least 2 hours. Transfer the macaroons to an airtight container, and refrigerate or freeze.
Yield: 12 macaroons