Monday, January 23, 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

Baked Meringues - Chocolate and vanilla
I've noticed something about special dietary concerns and potlucks. Your special dietary need becomes your special dish. Before the gf diet, I was always asked to bring veggies. Theoretically, a mostly vegetarian should make awesome veggies, right? Now I'm always asked to bring a gf dessert. Its easy to substitute corn pasta or bake chicken instead of frying it, but once you venture into gf flour, people become uneasy. Dessert becomes the celiacs unofficial dish forever.

No complaints here. Dessert can be made ahead. Dessert is easy to transfer. Dessert leftovers never stir up complaints in my house. So I'll be the gf dessert queen.

GF baked goods tend to center around fruit or meringue. The easiest recipes to adjust are the ones that don't call for any flour. Makes sense, right?

After 8 batches of ice cream as Christmas gifts and multiple requests for "forgotten cookies" (peppermint meringues with chocolate chips), egg whites and I have formed a beautiful friendship. Their fussy stereotype is mostly undeserved. What I observe:

  • Egg whites like a clean dry bowl and whisk. Really, who doesn't? Just wipe it out before you begin.
  • Egg whites separate from their yolks better if they know they're in good hands. Literally, I use my fingers to separate the yolk. Crack the egg with your right hand into your left and let the whites slip through your fingers. I've separated 50+ eggs this way over the last month and haven't broken one yolk. I know it sounds messy, but good baking is messy.
  • Room temp. Egg whites whip better at room temperature. Also, your hands don't get as cold when you separate them.
  • Egg whites have separation anxiety. Don't just turn the mixer to high and walk away. Gradually work up to high, letting the egg whites settled for 20-30 seconds at each speed. Then remain in the kitchen where you can check on them while they whisk. Over beaten egg whites will fall.
  • Add sugar at the end and slowly. Tap into your inner OCD for this. Whip the eggs until shiny and stiff, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, allowing the sugar to mix completely before adding the next tablespoon. Like I said, "be obsessive, be, be obsessive." This works every time, no matter the humidity. You don't even need cream of tarter if you add sugar slowly.
  • Line your cookie sheet. Parchment paper is God's gift to bakers (second only to the air bake cookie sheet - All good gifts come from the father of lights). A greased cookie sheet will ruin egg whites. An ungreased, unlined cookie sheet will produce beautiful stalagmites of meringue that will never let go. Use parchment paper.
  • Store in an air-tight tupperware. If exposed to humidity, meringues will lose their awesome crunch.
I think that's all you need to know for beautiful meringues every time. Let's move on to today's recipe:

Chocolate Macaroons

These follow the French idea of a macaroon more than the grocery store. They are lighter and less cake-like thanks to the egg whites. The chocolate and coconut stand out supported by egg whites. Really nice.

4 egg whites
1/4 t salt
1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla
8 oz. (1 c) sweetened shredded coconut
4 oz. (1/2 c) almond meal (not a time to substitute AP flour. You can find almond meal at most grocery stores)
2 oz. (1/4 c) baking cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whip egg whites and salt until shiny and stiff. Mean while, spread coconut out on a cookie sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, checking on it at 3 minutes.  Add sugar gradually until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in vanilla, coconut, almond meal and cocoa with a spatula. Scoop teaspoonfuls of meringue onto lined cookie sheet. Form into peaks with fingers (optional). Bake for 20 minutes. Outside of cookie should crunch while the inside remains soft.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

I brought these to a party this weekend, and they were demolished. Sunday morning people were still talking about them. They produce a much more impressive dessert than effort deserves. Hope you enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading the tips for eggs! And, of course, the cookies were delicious!!


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