Friday, April 6, 2012
Cranberry Almond Coconut Macaroons
I'm not Jewish, but I've always looked forward to Passover. That may sound like a weird sentence, but it's true, and it totally makes sense. I'm being serious. Passover always meant that the bakery department in my supermarket would begin to get shipments of all sort of varieties of coconut macaroons. Some were plain, some had chocolate, some had nuts, and others were covered in chocolate. They were all delicious. I don't know why, but there's just something about coconut macaroons that I just find delicious. So whenever Passover came around, I knew that coconut macaroons would soon follow...and so would my purchases of these tiny, yummy cookies.
These macaroons were the result of my second attempt ever at making coconut macaroons. The first attempt was a complete fail, which makes no sense, considering how easy macaroons actually are to make. This must have been something like, 6 years ago, at least. I vividly remember deciding to make my own batch of plain coconut macaroons, and I was so excited. I was so excited, that I completely forgot to line my baking sheets with a silicone liner, parchment paper, or even just waxed paper. In any case, I made the macaroons exactly as the directions stated, scooped them out onto my un-lined baking sheets (unknown to me, obviously), and then popped them in the oven. When I took them out, they looked beautiful, and just how I had pictured them. After letting them cool slightly on the baking pan, I went to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely when I realized that the coconut macaroons I had been so eager to make were, in fact, completely stuck to the baking sheets. That was a sad moment.
After that failed macaroon attempt, I suppose I was left slightly traumatized, and never attempted to make them again (such a silly thing, considering that the source of my error was something that could have been fixed so easily). I never stopped loving coconut macaroons though, and I so I decided to give them another go last week. They were so simple to make! The only thing I didn't like is that I realized how much time I had wasted without making a batch of successful coconut macaroons. Silly me.
The recipe for these macaroons is simple and straightforward. It's a dressed up coconut macaroon, with the addition of cranberries, almonds, and a little chocolate drizzle. Originally, I had wanted to dip half of the macaroons in chocolate, but in the end, I'm very happy that I chose to only drizzle a little chocolate over the top. The drizzle adds a little chocolate flavor, without overpowering the almonds and cranberries, and making the macaroons too sweet. They come together really easily; all you have to do is combine the ingredients over the stove, stir, and then pour into a baking dish and refrigerate for a half hour. Then, scoop them out onto lined baking sheets, bake, and drizzle with chocolate, and you have yourself some really tasty macaroons! Enjoy!
Cranberry Almond Coconut Macaroons
recipe from The Sophisticated Gourmet
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweetened, dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup egg whites (I used about 6 eggs)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Begin by combining the coconut, sugar, cranberries, almonds, and egg whites in a heavy saucepan set over medium low heat. Cook the mixture for about 10-15 minutes, making sure to stir frequently. As the mixture cooks, it will begin to look creamy, and then eventually begin to dry out, with individual coconut flakes becoming more distinguishable. When the mixture no longer looks creamy, but is still sticky, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the mixture out into a small baking dish, spread it out into an even layer with a spatula, and place into the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.
Shape the macaroons into evenly sized cookies (I used a cookie scoop for this, but doing it by hand would work too!). Place the macaroons on the baking sheets, making sure to space them evenly apart from each other. Bake the macaroons until they are golden brown on the top, about 27-30 minutes. Allow the macaroons to cool momentarily on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Place the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl, and set it over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Stir the chocolate with a whisk until is has melted completely and is smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the tops of the macaroons. Refrigerate the finished macaroons for a couple of minutes to set the chocolate drizzle.
Makes 24 macaroons.