Unlike their more sophisticated French cousins, which are pretty and pastelly, but have no hold over me, I have a weakness for coconut macaroons. I love their rough and tangled look, their crispy golden shells and intense chewy innards.
I recently saw a recipe for coconut macaroons that was quite different to my normal recipe and decided to try it out. Most macaroon recipes are often not worth trying because while they’re incredibly simple and merely require you to fold whipped egg whites and sugar into shredded or dessicated coconut, there’s too much moisture in the mix for the macaroon to stay crisp after it has been baked. What you usually end up with is a disappointing soft macaroon that makes you wonder what the fuss is all about.
This recipe, from a C.I.A. pastry book, is pretty good. It’s not about to replace my favourite recipe, but as far as coconut macaroons go, it yields a rather good product. Good enough that is, for it to take only a few days after baking, for them to disappear completely from our house.
I flavoured my macaroon mix with lavender buds, that beautiful purple flower more commonly associated with potpourri sachets and cupboard air fresheners. Lavender is a member of the mint family and is apparently closely related to herbs such as rosemary and sage. It is said that you can substitute lavender in almost any dish that usually requires rosemary, such as lamb and rabbit, in breads and in desserts such as custards, cakes and ice-creams. The key to remember when cooking with lavender, is that ‘a little goes a long way’, because the inclusion of too much lavender to a dish can render it unpleasantly bitter. Lavender also goes with honey, white chocolate, lemon, goats cheese and, as I have discovered, coconut!
Coconut macaroons, with a hint of lavender, are my contribution to this week’s WHB, hosted by Wandering Chopsticks.
Coconut Macaroons :
(makes about 35 macaroons; recipe from Baking and Pastry, by the Culinary Institute of America)
20g light corn syrup
90g egg whites
272g shredded unsweetened coconut
10g cake flour, sifted
Line trays with baking paper.
Heat the sugar, corn syrup and egg whites over simmering water until the mixture reaches 60’C, whipping constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the coconut and flour with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. [Here, I also added the lavender buds. 1 teaspoon should be enough, depending on how floral you want your macaroons to be]
Using a No.100 scoop, portion the batter, pressing each scoop lightly, and place in even rows on the prepared trays [I used a measuring tablespoon to do this]. Air-dry until slightly dry, about 1 hour.
Bake at 191’C until the cookies are a light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on the tray.