Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Photo 2016-04-06, 4 23 58 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 23 58 PM

Let’s just get this out of the way. The last time I made macaroons they ALL attached in the oven. ALL OF THEM. I ended up with one large, flat, mess of coconut. I have no idea what happened and I’m not even going to try to figure it out. For the past few years, my niece has been crowned the “Macaroon Queen” and has made absolutely perfect round spheres to bring to our Passover dinner. She displays some on a tray and others she wraps as individual “goodie” bags for guests to take home. These perfect treats are laden with coconut, vanilla bean and dipped in chocolate. Totally divine.

I needed to try my hand at making these macaroons again, just to see if they would not meld into one giant coconut disaster again.

Photo 2016-04-06, 3 37 43 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 3 37 43 PM

So, I did some research, called my niece and then took advice from 2 of my favourite people on earth – Martha Stewart & Deb Perelman from smitten kitchen. Along with my niece’s secret ingredient, the guts of a vanilla bean, I was ready to tackle the elusive MACAROON.

Oh. And don’t confuse a macaroon with a macaron. Two totally different cookies. The confusion between these two sweet treats – macarons (pronounced mah-kah-ROHN) and macaroons (pronounced mah-kah-ROON) happens all the time. Is it just the difference between the spelling and pronunciation? Nope.

Macarons:

They are the most elegant sandwich cookie you will ever lay eyes on, a delicate meringue that comes in a variety of creative flavors with decadent fillings like high quality chocolate ganache, preserves and buttercream. I will be attending a macaron making workshop later this month at a local bakery – Le Dolci. Honestly? I can’t wait because there is no way on earth I would attempt these in my own kitchen unless I was under strict supervision.

Macaroons:

These babies are homemade, chewy, and coconutty. A delightfully sweet confection that is known for its’ golden crisp outside and chewy soft inside. You make them with egg whites, shredded coconut, and sugar. The recipe could not be simpler (except if you’re me and end up with a very large coconut pancake). They take about ten minutes to prepare and you don’t need a pastry course to achieve the beautiful end result. They are considered to be a “friendly” cookie and you can dip them in chocolate, and get creative with additional ingredients to make them your own signature style.

Photo 2016-04-06, 4 25 02 PM (1)
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 25 02 PM (1)

That is exactly what I was after here.

I wanted a twist on the traditional recipe and threw in some fresh blackberries to punch up the colour as well as offset the sweetness of the coconut and sugar with a zazzle of tartness.

Once I made the coconut batter in my food processor, yes, food processor – a tip from smitten kitchen, who aptly refers to “reducing the cough-inducing shreds to a thick paste that bakes into a delicately textured cookie”. You know what? She’s right. I can’t even count how many times I have bitten into a macaroon and ended up with one shred stuck in my throat. TOTALLY BRILLIANT DEB PERELMAN……but then again, I have trusted you before and you’ve never failed me.

Photo 2016-04-06, 4 27 39 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 27 39 PM

Now. Why did I decide to use a trilogy of recipes for this cookie? Easy. Martha’s used a bit less sugar and a different oven temperature. My niece added in the vanilla bean instead of an extract. And finally, smitten kitchen used a berry in the mix, which to me was a concept of creating a macaroon that was off the charts.

Photo 2016-04-06, 4 27 56 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 27 56 PM

Here’s what the taste testers in my office had to say about these (and yes, I conducted a door to door interview with a fake microphone):

“These were the best macaroons I have ever tried”.

“I usually don’t like coconut, but these macaroons were quite tasty”.

“Moist delicious coconutty and oh my god”.

“A mouthful of happiness”.

Keep in mind that I work with over 18 women on my floor, and that was just a snippet of the comments I received on these macaroons.

And now, it’s time for true confessions. I made a huge dumbo mistake when I dipped them into the melted chocolate. Wanna know what? Here, I’ll tell ya.

Instead of placing the cookies on parchment paper, I put them on the cooling rack to drip off the excess chocolate. You know what happened next? Yes, that’s right. EVERY SINGLE STUPID MACAROON stuck to the cooling rack. It was a real DUH moment for me and once again I have no idea why I did this. If I would have placed them on the parchment to let the chocolate set up, I would have ended up with gloriously dunked cookies, but instead, I had to practically chisel them off the rack with a spatula. DOUBLE DUH.

Photo 2016-04-06, 3 38 05 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 3 38 05 PM

The bottom line? Make them. Even if you don’t love coconut, you will love these.

BLACKBERRY COCONUT & DARK CHOCOLATE MACAROONS

(inspired by Martha Stewart, Smitten Kitchen, Mandy & simply beautiful eating)

-14 oz. sweetened flaked coconut -⅔ cup granulated sugar -1 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out -¼ tsp. flaked sea salt -1¼ cups fresh blackberries, washed and dried well (do not use frozen) -3 large egg whites -6 oz. good quality chocolate, (I used 60% Ghirardelli), melted

Photo 2016-04-06, 9 46 01 AM (1)
Photo 2016-04-06, 9 46 01 AM (1)

1) Preheat oven to 325F. 2) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 3) In the bowl of a food processor, add the coconut and run processor for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and process for another minute. Add the vanilla bean seeds, salt, and egg whites and process for 1 minute.

Photo 2016-04-06, 12 21 38 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 12 21 38 PM

4) Add blackberries and pulse 15 times or until berries have broken down into very small chunks.

Photo 2016-04-06, 12 30 54 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 12 30 54 PM

5) Use a 1½ tbsp. cookie scoop and scoop mounds onto prepared baking sheet. You can put them close together because these cookies don't spread much (which is a miracle in itself)

Photo 2016-04-06, 12 33 25 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 12 33 25 PM

6) Bake for 28-32 minutes or until tops start to become golden brown. Don't overbake. 7) Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Then slide onto a cooling rack. 8) Line your baking sheet with a fresh piece of parchment paper and set aside. 9) Once cookies are completely cool, at least 1 hour later, begin melting your chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave in 15 second increments. I have done both methods and to be honest, the stove top one can't be beat.

Photo 2016-04-06, 1 51 50 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 1 51 50 PM

10) Dip cookie bottoms into chocolate and then set back on parchment paper. Repeat until all cookies are dipped. Using a spoon or a small sandwich bag with a tiny hole cut out, drizzle remaining chocolate over the cookies. Let sit until chocolate is completely set up.

Photo 2016-04-06, 4 17 05 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 17 05 PM

11) Store in an airtight container for up 1 week. Do not refrigerate. 12) If you want to freeze, don't dip into chocolate. Freeze after they cool and then dip them after defrosting. Makes 25 -30 cookies

Photo 2016-04-06, 4 26 33 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 26 33 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 24 36 PM
Photo 2016-04-06, 4 24 36 PM