This wasn’t our first Christmas together – it was our fifth – but it was our first as an engaged couple and it really did feel different.The feeling was a combination of a very first Christmas kiss and an 80-year old couple holding hands. Peace and joy, peace and joy. We had purchased Christmas cards to send to our now mutual loved ones, which was already a step up from the years prior. We had decorated our tree, Our tree, and it felt momentous. And as we did so I was trying to figure out what to do for casual gifts – something to leave in someone’s cube in case they left something in mine, something that said thank you and I’m thinking of you. Something that's also… affordable.
I should tell you that I don’t like macaroons. I only liked a macaroon one time – at Angel Maid bakery in Culver City. But I thought quite highly of that macaroon and I thought I could replicate it, so attempt to replicate it we did.
This started with a trip to Surfas, also in Culver City. A million dollars and some unnecessary but satisfying purchases later, I had our ingredients. We settled in for a long winter’s baking (okay, it was 72 degrees – this is Southern California, after all).
In a matter of two hours, we made 80 macaroons - two batches following the recipe below. Simple, chewy and toasty on the outside, soft on the inside, dipped in bittersweet chocolate. They were a major success – they were the macaroons that make you into a macaroon person. And they are our first new tradition as a nearly married couple.
This recipe is adapted from Danny Cohen’s recipe, as posted on Food & Wine. I got lucky -- the recipe was simple and exactly what I was looking for and it was the first one we tried. These macaroons highlight coconut and chocolate -- no filler, no weird doughy or cakey texture. The ingredients remain essentially the same as the original recipe, but we put them together differently for the second batch because it worked better for us. The recipe below makes 40 macaroons.
One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces Scharffenberger bittersweet chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Beat the egg whites with the salt until you have firm peaks.
In a separate large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk with the vanilla. Fold in the egg whites. Gently, gently, gently fold in the coconut.
Scoop tablespoon-ish sized balls (I used a small ice cream scoop) on to your cookie sheets prepped with silpats (preferred) or parchment. Pop in the oven for 22-27 minutes until lightly golden, turning and rotating half way through.
Cool completely – if you’re on a mission, mine got cold enough after 10 minutes on the counter and five minutes in the freezer.
While your macaroons are cooling, melt your bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler (or the microwave, or a glass bowl set above simmering water, etc.). When they are cool enough to handle, dip their little bottoms in the chocolate and allow to set.
Eat or give away, as you wish. Rumor has it they will store quite nicely in the fridge for two weeks, but I can only tell you they didn't last very long in my house at all -- but they have only themselves to blame.