Sunday, April 24, 2011

coconut macaroons

drizzled with bittersweet chocolate 

or with an almond and half dipped

I really do LOVE anything made with coconut!!! So while spending a long and rainy weekend on the tip of Cape Cod my very good friend offered to make me a sweet and special treat. And a sweet and special treat it was indeed!!!

A good coconut macaroon recipe is hard to find. Some have egg whites in them and some call for unsweetened coconut. Well, this recipe is GREAT and it calls for neither. These macaroons are chewy on the inside and have a similar texture to a Mounds candy bar and flavor profile of an Almond Joy.

I love sharing easy recipes as well as receiving them. I'm not entirely sure where my friend got this recipe, but let's just say the person's initials are JZ. And no it's not that Jay-Z.....

Coconut Macaroons
yields 90 

2 (14 oz.) packages of sweetened coconut ***my friend and I both used Baker's Angel Flake Coconut***
1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt ***Do not use regular table salt. But if that's all you have, cut the amount to 1/2 teaspoon. This was NOT in the original recipe and it's my own touch, but salt always enhances sweet things***
whole toasted almonds ***optional*** 
1 (12 oz.) bag of bittersweet chocolate

***Before you dump everything in a bowl, you may want to consider doing the following step. It's not needed, but if you want to cut "some" of the sugar out of this recipe, then do it!***

Preheat oven to 250˚.
Dump one (14 oz.) bag of coconut in a mesh strainer or colander. Run water over the flakes to wash off the majority of the sugar. Press out any excess water or spin dry in a salad spinner. Spread out onto rimmed cookie sheet and dry out in the oven, 20 - 30 minutes or until the flakes are dry, but not browned. Once dried, remove from oven and cool completely.

So why don't you use unsweetened coconut???
I love the chewy texture you get from "sweetened" coconut but not all the sugar. Even though you wash off most of the sugar and dry it in the oven, the process doesn't affect it's chewy texture.

Turn up your oven to 325˚. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Toast and cool almonds if using. Combine all of the ingredients (except almonds and chocolate) in a large bowl. With a rubber spatula, mix thoroughly to combine. Using a 1 1/2 inch diameter scoop, scoop macaroons onto parchment lined baking sheets. Space macaroons 1 inch apart. They will not spread. Top macaroons with an almond before placing them into the oven. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until set and some flakes have browned slightly. Completely cool on wire racks before dipping or drizzling.

Over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Remove bowl from heat and stir until cooled a bit, thick and glossy. I use Ghiradelli chocolate and their website has a "how to" on how to temper chocolate. Or use the microwave technique. ***I realize most of you won't want to temper your chocolate. I don't blame you. It's quite a process and if you mess it up, it's not pretty. But if you're up for a challenge, I challenge you.***

Dip or drizzle your macaroons and place on a clean parchment lined baking sheet. If you've decided to temper your chocolate, leave the macaroons at room temperature. If done properly, chocolate will "set". But if you're in a rush and need to "set" them, place in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Do not do this for long. Condensation builds up on the outside of the chocolate and dots will appear on the surface. Your chocolate dipped macaroons will look like they have an illness......There could be many reasons why your chocolate will look "ill" but not to worry, it all tastes the same.

The following two images are taken from the same sheet of half-dipped macaroons. The first image are the first macaroons I dipped after tempering the chocolate. These have set and the chocolate coating is firm. I feel comfortable sharing these for Easter.

These macaroons were dipped from the same batch of tempered chocolate, but the chocolate has cooled down considerably and some sort of moisture has gotten to it. This is what chocolate looks like when it has "bloomed". This will definitely happen if you place your chocolate dipped macaroons into the refrigerator. Again, not-so-pretty but still delicious. These macaroons will make it as far as to our bellies at home.

I am by no means a chocolatier, so don't judge.......

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