Showing posts with label macaroons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label macaroons. Show all posts

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

For many, many years, it has been my habit to try at least one new (new to me) Christmas cookie recipe. Some become beloved must-haves, and some fall by the wayside. This year I had coconut on the brain. I found a recipe on Food Network for Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons. They called out to me, not just because of the chocolate, but because they contain no egg yolks. I love meringue, so I was intrigued.

They rate this as intermediate difficulty but I think it's easy-peasy. So easy, in fact, that it would be a great cookie to make with kids. For starters, it's a dump recipe. Dump everything but the chocolate into the mixer! And then there's scooping the dough out with an ice cream scoop. Not to mention the fun of dipping the cookies in chocolate! So if you're planning to bake with a little one this year, keep this recipe in mind!

Where can you go wrong? I'm guessing, from reading the comments, that some people used too much egg white. Interestingly, the recipe specified a scant half cup of egg whites, which is about three egg whites. But eggs come in different sizes. I found myself peering through eggs for a very small one for the third egg. I took a photo to show you exactly how much egg white I used. So take the time to measure instead of just popping three egg whites in the bowl.

The original recipe calls for sweetened coconut and 3/4 cup sugar. I used Bob's unsweetened coconut and 1 cup of sugar, which turned out fine. I also dared to add just a pinch of salt.

If you're making these for an office party or for a buffet with other desserts, make them on the small side. I found that about 1/2 an ice cream scoop makes about a 2.5-inch cookie.

For what it's worth, the original recipe calls for 4 ounces of chocolate chips. Oink Oink! I needed about 10 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips for dipping. I will admit that I like it when a little edge of chocolate shows up on the coconut.

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
from Food Network
recipe by Gale Gand

scant 1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
10 ounces good quality chocolate chips (your mileage may vary here)

Heat the oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix together the egg whites, sugar, and salt (just a little to be sure the salt is blended), add the coconut and mix. Use an ice cream scoop to place little mounds on the parchment paper about two inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes. The cookies should be light golden.

Cool completely on the pans. Don't throw out the parchment paper! Melt the chocolate (I used the microwave in brief 40 second bursts, stirring with a fork in between). Dip the cookies in the chocolate, letting just a bit come up over the edge of the cookie if you like. Dry on the parchment paper.

Makes little mounds.
Bake until light golden.
Dip in chocolate!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to All Our Readers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen

We hope you're having a wonderful day filled with family and friends and turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and vegetables and pie--or whatever your favorite Thanksgiving traditions are! We are so grateful for your visits to our blog, for your comments, for reading our books, and for making our lives a little bit richer.

We thought it might be fun to share a few of our favorite foodie gifts--to make your mouth water while you're waiting for dinner. So if you're visiting this holiday season or want ideas for the elves in your lives, here are some ideas.

LUCY BURDETTE: For immediately edible treats, I'm mad for Nocciolato, an organic Nutella-like hazelnut spread that I use to make fudge (about $10.) I took the fudge when we were houseguests at our son’s prospective in-laws’ home—it was an instant sensation.

KRISTA DAVIS: I recommend Theo Pink Salted Caramels. Perfect caramels are enrobed in dark chocolate and sprinkled with exactly enough pink sea salt. About $7.50 for four little mouthwatering wonders. I added a box to our tip for the garbage collectors last Christmas, and our trash cans haven’t been tossed to the curb since.

SHEILA CONNOLLY: My grandmother used to arrive for Thanksgiving laden with foodie nibbles (since she lived in New York, they were pretty special): all kinds of nuts in the shell, dates, giant apples and grapes. Most of them I stuck up my nose at, but she also brought wonderful macaroons from what used to be Robert Day Dean's. I'm still hunting for any as good as those. Their decorated sugar and ginger cookies were also pretty spectacular. So if you're eating Thanksgiving with children: bring sweets (and if mom is worried about spoiling their appetites, just slip them a few tastes under the table).

aka AVERY AAMES: I love making a hot chocolate mix and putting it in a jar with a special spoon attached. I print out these directions. Dump all these things in a bowl: 2 cups powdered sugar; 1 cup cocoa; 2 1/2 cups powdered milk; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Stir. Put into jars. You can top with some marshmallows, but if you have a gluten-free recipient, don’t do that unless the marshmallows are gluten-free. FYI: Kraft Marshmallows are!  J Add a tag with directions to fill the mug half full with mix and then add steaming hot water. Stir and enjoy!

PEG COCHRAN: One of my favorite things to make and bring is a gift box (or bag) of homemade peanut brittle (recipe here).  Just add some fancy wrapping and you have a delicious hostess gift that can be nibbled after dinner or saved for another occasion (if you can resist the temptation!)

VICTORIA ABBOTT: Everyone we know is so busy.  We all want gifts that work for us. One gift that keeps on giving is a stash of refrigerator or freezer cookies. They'll be there the day or the week after when the busy hostess wants to put her feet up. She can slice off the exact number and enjoy cookies fresh from the oven without all the clean-up, with our without guests. We love to get them and this year we plan to give a brown sugar and almond version.  Or should it be the chocolate chip ones? Hmmm.

CLEO COYLE: For coffee lovers, a premium package of coffee makes a lovely gift. This year, Marc and I are excited to be giving our very own blend, "Billionaire's Blend," which was created by Holly O'Connor of One Good Woman Fine Coffees and Teas and her master roaster Shane in honor of our visit to their store in Eastern PA. The name of the blend is taken from our Coffeehouse Mystery, Billionaire Blend, and the customers liked it so much that Holly and Shane decided to keep roasting and selling it. Giving someone a gift with the word "Billionaire" in the title is a real hoot. And while this delicious blend is rich, the price is not (under $15.00 a pound, which is a good deal for premium, small-batch roasted coffee). To order it for yourself, simply call the toll free number at their shop 1-866-610-2872. Their staff is incredibly warm and friendly and they excel at fulfilling special orders. May you drink with joy!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Aunt Ka's Chocolate Macaroons

by Sheila Connolly

My father's parents both came from Ireland (they met in New York), along with many of their siblings.  They all arrived in New York in the late 1890s or early 1900s, and the women found work, without exception, as domestic servants.  My grandfather, so I'm told, drove a horse-drawn milk truck, and he met my grandmother at the kitchen door at the house where she was working.

The Lawless Sisters: my grandmother
is on the left, Ka on the right
Several of these women never married but stayed "in service" until they retired or could no longer work.  My grandmother was one of the exceptions:  she worked for several years, and then when she and my grandfather married, they moved to Syracuse where she had a sister who had married a local contractor. She had her first child—my father—when she was 39.

When my grandmother arrived in this country, she brought along her youngest sister Katherine, known as Ka.  Poor Ka was only a year old when her mother died, so she was raised by an aunt in Ireland.  She spent most of her adult life working for a family in Darien, then New Canaan, Connecticut. (There's a family mystery there: apparently she married a man named Ryan, but it didn't work out and nobody ever mentioned him again, although she kept the name Ryan and a divorce was unlikely.) 

A decade or more ago I discovered that my father had somehow held on to the sum and total of what Ka had left:  a small suitcase with a few family pictures, and a spiral bound booklet—with recipes. It's not really long enough to be considered a cookbook.  If this were fiction, I'd tell you that it was filled with either treasured family recipes from Ireland or wonderful concoctions with which she wowed her employers for a couple of decades. 

Not so.  What I'm guessing is that it's a record of her employer's favorites (this was Charlotte Heyl of Wahackme Road in New Canaan): vegetable soup (with two tablespoons of sugar?), "Spanish rice" (with a half cup of sugar??), cheeze (sic) balls, made with "1 roll snappy cheeze (sic)," French dressing (with "4 heaping teaspoons sugar (perhaps more)…Shake like everything!", scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheeze (sic), chocolate pudding, and so on.  At best it's a snapshot of conservative foods from the nicer suburbs. At worst…they're awful recipes.

It was a challenge to decide which of these recipes to prepare, but in the end I settled for what are called


Butter size of an egg (half a stick?)
2 squares Baker's chocolate (I assume that back then it was all unsweetened)

Melt together over hot water.

Add one cup sugar and mix thoroughly.

Add 2 unbeaten eggs

Sift together 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt and beat in.  Add 1 tsp vanilla

Is this a handful?
Add 3 handfulls chopped nuts (I used walnuts) and 1/2 pound pecans. (A lot of nuts!)

All the nuts, chopped

Bake in a 325 oven for 10-12 minutes.

Okay, as you can see there are a few issues with this recipe.  Like, what size egg?  (I'll admit I always wanted to use a recipe with that measurement, though.)  And "handfuls" of nuts?  You may also note that there is no description of how to form these so-called macaroons.  On a greased baking sheet?  Large or small dollops?

I opted for using a Silpat, and making each cookie about one tablespoon of dough. The baking temperature and time worked. I let them cool briefly before I put them on a rack.  This recipe made 2 1/2 dozen cookies.  Basically they taste like very nutty brownies, but they're good.

P.S.  nobody ever said my relatives were good cooks!

Available now!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Almond Macaroons

by Sheila Connolly

One morning recently I woke up with an odd thought in my head:  I have more early memories of food than I do of my sister, who was born when I was four. What does that say about my priorities? I do remember my mother boiling glass bottles for her formula (aren't we glad those days are gone?), and wearing a medical mask when she had a cold, but I don't remember my sister as a baby.  Go figure.

But I do remember food, and I realize that most of those food memories had to do with sweets (I'm sure there's some scientific reason for that, but I don't know what it is).  My absolute earliest memory, from when I was around three, was of our next-door neighbor handing me a homemade grape ice-cube pop, and I remember how intense the grape flavor was.  The second? My father feeding me pistachio ice cream.

I had a mild chocolate allergy when I was very young, which didn't stop me from tracking down those supposedly hidden chocolate bunnies at Easter and consuming them, bit by bit (yeah, like my mother wouldn't notice that the ears were missing).

I'm not going to fight it.  Sugar/flour/butter in all their lovely permutations are still my favorite foods, although I get along better with my sister now than I did when I was four, and I think she's forgiven me for liking cookies better than her. Anyway, cookies still top my list, and I have the cookie cookbooks to prove it.  I've mentioned Robert Day-Dean's ginger cookies before, but they also made wonderful almond macaroons that my grandmother would bring when she visited (she never learned to cook, but she knew where to find good food!). 

In this world there are two kinds of macaroons:  coconut and almond.  I have no patience with the coconut ones, and they don't deserve the name—just call them coconut cookies and be done with it.  But I love the almond ones, and they're ridiculously simple to make.


This recipe is about as basic as it gets, with all of four ingredients:  almond paste (do not confuse this with marzipan, which has more sugar added), sugar, egg white and almond extract.  Amazing what combining these things in the right way can do!

1 can (8 oz.) almond paste

1 cup sugar

2 egg whites (from large eggs)

½ tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Break up the almond paste into 1-inch chunks.  In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the almond paste and the sugar and blend on very slow speed until the mixture is reduced to coarse crumbs, at least three minutes.

Add the egg whites in three or four installments, beating well in between and scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add the almond extract and mix until blended.

Transfer the mixture (it will be stiff) into a pastry bag with a ½" to ¾" opening. Pipe the macaroons onto the cookie sheets.  They should be about 1½ inch across, and spaced at least 2 inches apart (they will spread during baking).

Pat them down a bit.  I found one recipe that gives a very elaborate method of folding a linen towel and laying it gently upon the cookies, but really, you can use your fingers (clean, of course).  A spatula won't work because these are sticky.

Bake until the macaroons are puffed and golden.  It will take about 20 minutes, but check regularly for the last ten minutes to make sure they don't overcook.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheets on a rack, then peel carefully from the parchment paper.  These are best if  eaten quickly, while the outside is still crisp and the inside chewy. If they don't all disappear immediately, store them in a sealed container.

Out of curiosity I looked up the origin of the name, which was not terribly satisfying.  According to the Online Etymology dictionary, in the 1610s it meant a "small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds," from Fr. macaron (16c.), from dialectal It. maccarone.  Doesn't explain much of anything, does it?  Wikipedia is more helpful: "This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient."