May 29, 2011

Chocolate Drenched Coconut Macaroons

....this is embarassing. I've been completely MIA for over a month, but I can explain! First came the hectic last couple weeks of the semester, followed by a hellish finals week. That awful week also kicked off three weeks of low-carb sadness, because I had to lose 3 pounds for a jiu jitsu tournament (actually, there were few enough women that they didn't bother weighing us in. I. Was. Not. Happy.). Turns out, not being allowed to eat fruit, pasta, bread, rice, or any kind of sweetener that's not made of chemicals dampens my love of cooking. I texted my sister about four hours into the diet to tell her that I was starving, probably to death.

But I'll make it up to you, I swear. I'll make it up to you with drippy dark chocolate, smothering coconut macaroons that manage to be both gooey and crispy in the same bite. I'm pretty sure I've given myself diabetes in one fell swoop this weekend. And the abs that appeared around day 19 of low carb misery? Gone. Totally worth it, by the way. You'll see.

Teeny chocolate chip and coconut sandwiches
are delightful, but not very resilient.

That's a month's worth of delicious right there, but there's more. The macaroons call for five egg whites. And the boy doesn't like coconut, but he didn't want to run the risk of there not being enough to go around just in case  he likes coconut when it's in a macaroon. So, he decided that we (I) should make a double batch. And while I can talk myself into throwing away two or three egg yolks, ten is just too many to waste. I was clearly morally obligated to make creme brulee as well. I'll get that recipe up for you later this week (trust me, you want it), because the macaroons deserve their own time to shine.

Everything should be bathed in chocolate.

I used to not like coconut, but I'm pretty sure I was just confused for the first decade and a half of my life. Maybe I wasn't ready for true happiness yet, but I've come a long way. And of course, a good drenching in dark chocolate makes anything better. These guys come out sticky-sweet, in some delicious limbo between cookie and candy. Your hands will get messy, and if you bake like I do, you're in for a (again, totally worth it) tummy ache before the oven even enters into the equation. But messes aside, this is a pretty simple recipe that keeps beautifully and is more impressive than difficult. And it turns out, by the way, that the boy does like coconut when it's tucked inside a macaroon, so there you have it.

Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons
From Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life 
(Adapted just slightly)

I added a quarter cup of coconut milk to the ganache, but only because I had it. I don't think it made enough of a difference to buy a can, so I'm leaving it out of the recipe.

7 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
10 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips (11.5 ounces, but I had extra)
1 cup heavy cream

Stir together coconut, egg whites and 1 cup sugar in large, heavy saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.Stir frequently. Mixture will turn creamy at first, then slowly begin to dry out. Remove from heat when it is still very sticky (not dry), but no longer creamy (Molly points out that individual coconut flakes will become visible, and that was helpful to me).

Stir in vanilla and transfer to a large casserole dish or baking sheet to cool, smoothing it out fairly thin. Cool in fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 300 and line baking sheets (I used two and had about 5 macaroons worth left) with parchment paper. Do not use waxed paper, or your life will be a disaster. If you don't have parchment paper, just butter the pan and be prepared to scrub it later.

Form mixture into small, firmly packed balls using your hands or a one-tablespoon measuring spoon and place on baking sheet. They won't spread out like cookies, so feel free to place them very closely together. The mixture will be very sticky, so rinse your hands and scoop frequently to ease the process.

Bake until lightly golden all over, about 45- 55 minutes (the original recipe says 30, but mine took much longer). Cool completely. Macaroons can be stored at this point in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for months.

When macaroons are fully cooled, place a cooling rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet and heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming but not boiling, stirring or swirling occasionally to prevent scalding. Pour over chocolate in a mixing bowl. Let sit for 1 minute, add remaining sugar and stir until smooth.

Dunk macaroons one or two at a time in the chocolate ganache, covering completely. Remove with a fork and shake some of the chocolate off before placing on rack. When all are coated, refrigerate until fully cooled and no longer sticky (this took about 3 hours for mine). Store in the fridge and enjoy!

Macaroons will keep for several days in the fridge or a couple months in the freezer.

Makes about 45 macaroons.

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