Well, it’s been a year now, so it’s probably time to write another post.
I got really bogged down in the idea that my blog needed some overarching perspective – almost like I was authoring a lifestyle recipe book – and in the absence of a clear vision it’s been very hard to continue. In the meantime I’ve baked loads of awesome stuff that I haven’t shared, which is a real shame. So in the interests of progress, I’ve decided that I’m just going to write about stuff I’m actually baking in my life, rather than trying to present a particular point of view or construct a narrative.
Actually, come to think of it, wasn’t that the point of writing this blog in the first place?
I’d love to tell you that there’s some great reason that I’m making coconut macaroons, but honestly, it’s because I had some desiccated coconut in my cupboard that was going out of date. Doesn’t get any more real than that.
So without further ado, let’s do this!
Although the amount of time spent making the macaroons is fairly short, it will require a little planning. You’ll need a good 2 hours to chill down the mixture before you can bake them, as well as time to cool them completely before you can smother with chocolate, and let that set. If you were making these for an occasion, I would definitely suggest baking them the day before. If you store them in an airtight container, they will keep for several days, although (as the old cliché goes) they probably won’t last that long anyway.
Firstly, you’re going to need to get some gentle heat through the egg whites, sugar and salt. Using a bain-marie (or a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water), whisk together gently until the mixture is warmed through, and has changed to a smooth, creamy texture.
Remove from the heat, and stir through the vanilla extract, sift in the flour, and finally stir through the desiccated coconut.
Once your mixture looks homogenous, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Whilst you could bake the macaroons straight away at this point, they would spread out on the baking sheet. Not only would you struggle to get a uniform look, they would also be flat and crispy, so you wouldn’t get that lovely gooey centre, as a contrast to the crispy shell. It might seem like a faff, but I think it’s totally worth doing. And it’s no extra effort, just a little extra waiting.
When the mixture is thoroughly chilled, preheat your oven to 165c (150c fan) and line your baking sheets with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Once the oven is up to temperature, you can then begin to portion out the mixture. An ice cream scoop is ideal for this job, and is an essential tool for the baker; it makes consistent results so much easier to achieve. You could also do this by rolling the mixture into similar sized balls, or even by weighing out each macaroon individually – but I think this is the easiest way (It’s also very useful for portioning cupcake batter, so I definitely recommend getting your hands on one).
If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll want these mounds to be as neat as possible. If you wet your fingers in cold water, you’ll find that you’re able to squidge in all the protruding flecks of coconut without your fingers getting stuck in the batter.
Once you’re happy with how the macaroons look, put them on the top shelf of your oven. You will need to bake them for about 15-20 minutes, until they are just turning golden brown.
When the macaroon have coloured nicely, remove them from the oven and place the baking sheet directly onto a cooking rack. This is important because the residual heat will continue to cook the bottoms, and allow the macaroons to firm up. After 10 minutes, peel your macaroons away from the baking sheet and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Whilst you could stop at this point, I think no macaroon is complete without some chocolate decoration. Not only does it make it look so much more inviting, a good dark chocolate really complements the muted sweetness of the coconut. Milk chocolate will also work well, if you prefer.
As the macaroons will be stored at room temperature, you really should temper your chocolate. You could simply melt it, but it will be a little soft and dull when it sets. If you’re not upset by the possibility of getting chocolate all over your fingers when you eat these, you could probably just melt it. I won’t tell anyone, I promise.
For a detailed explanation of how to temper chocolate, check out my Homemade Easter Egg recipe.
Another good possibility is to melt 200g of dark chocolate with 40g of coconut oil. Mixing the chocolate with oil will give it a soft set, but it will be shiny, at least!
So, once your chocolate is ready to use, I like to dip the bottoms. Not only does this give you a good amount of the chocolate, it makes the bottoms of the macaroons perfectly smooth and shiny once they have set, and also covers up any unevenness of colour that is common around the base.
As you dip, trying to keep the level even up the sides. Scrape off the excess chocolate from the bottom with an angled spatula, or the back of a knife, and then place carefully onto some baking parchment to set.
I also like to drizzle some chocolate across the tops as well. I find that using a piping bag is easier if you are trying to get a consistent look, but you could just as easily drizzle it from a spoon.
And that’s it!
Once the chocolate has set up, simply peel away from the baking parchment, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
I particularly enjoy these macaroons with a hot cup of coffee. Here’s a picture of me pretending I’m only going to eat one:
The very best thing about these macaroons is that despite not being sickly sweet, my kids actually love them! And with the nutritionally dense coconut, and the protein in the egg whites… they’re practically healthy! Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but they’re certainly better than some of the other stuff I’ve fed them over the years.
So there it is – a classic coconut macaroon; Your grandmother would be proud!
There, I did it – I wrote a whole blog post.
I’m exhausted, please send help.
Actually, I’m fine. I’ll just eat a few more of these.
4 egg whites, at room temperature
200g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g plain flour, sifted
150g desiccated coconut
200g dark chocolate
Over a bain-marie, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Heat the mixture through it is smooth and creamy.
Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, flour and coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 165c (150c fan) and line two baking sheets with parchment.
Scoop small mounds of the chilled mixture on the lined baking sheets, leaving a good amount of room to let the heat circulate. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and place the baking sheets directly onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, before cooling completely on a wire rack.
Temper the dark chocolate, and decorate macaroons as desired.