Killer macaroons and a great book

Is there any such thing as a truly new recipe? I kind of doubt it! So with no apologies, here is the best recipe for macaroons that you’re likely to find anywhere, and it’s become such a merging of various recipes, I’m going to take credit for this particular version:

Killer Macaroons

21 ozs. sweetened, shredded coconut (bags come in 7- or 14-oz. sizes)

about 10 oz. of a can (14 oz.)  of sweetened, condensed milk

1 tsp. of vanilla extract (use the real stuff!) or almond extract, if you prefer it

3 egg whites at room temperature (I leave the eggs out for a couple hours before breaking and separating into the bowl)

1/4 tsp. of Kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla. In a second bowl, mix the egg whites and kosher salt at high speed with your mixer until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a small ice cream scoop (mine is a little less than 2″ in diameter, and I don’t think you’d want to use one any larger – this makes a generous sized cookie!). Scoop up some of the coconut mixture, patting it in to create a dense ball. Plop onto the cookie sheet; no need to leave much room between balls since they shouldn’t spread much, if at all.

Put the cookie trays into the refrigerator for at least 30 min. to let mixture set. Then, preheat your oven to 325 and bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bits and pieces sticking out of the little mounds are brown. You’ll have those great, brown crunchy bits, but the cookie will be moist and chewy on the inside.

If you want to do a kind of retro look, you could put half a red or green candied cherry on top of each cookie before you put them in the oven. Or, you can wait until they cool down, then either dip them in chocolate or pipe on some chocolate drizzles. Plain or decorated, these macaroons are the best!

Depending on how big you’re making each cookie, you should end up with about 18 to 24 macaroons.

I think I might do the candied cherry thing and make some for Christmas. I just finished a double batch last night. I’m bringing half to my book club this evening and giving the other half to my friend Alyssa for her birthday Friday.

Speaking of book club, we just finished reading “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer. Excellent memoir. I was a little put off initially that a young boy would idolize a group of men who spend far more time in a bar than makes me comfortable, but the writer poignantly portrayed the men’s roles as substitute father figures in his life. He also has his a reckoning as a fairly young adult facing, and dealing with, his own drinking issues. Very well written and touching.

I was about halfway through the book when I heard Andre Agassi (sp?) being interviewed on NPR about his new biography. Apparently he was reading “The Tender Bar” at the time he was beginning work on his own story. He was so impressed, he contacted Moehringer and asked him to work with him on his own book. Makes me want to read Agassi’s book now, too.

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