Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Almost One Ingredient Challenge: Macaroons

Part of an ongoing series of cooking from scratch. That is, we cook something from basic items that don't have multiple ingredients (e.g. store-bought spaghetti sauce includes all sorts of spices and maybe other stuff too; we'd start with tomatoes and individual spices and add them together to make our own sauce). See other challenges here.

This recipe almost qualifies for the challenge. The coconuts are highly processed and the sprinkles are also an amalgamation of many other ingredients. We don't have an almond extract recipe either. And we don't use homemade vegetable oil spray. But they are Christmas cookies in the shape and appearance of festive wreaths, so the standards are relaxed.

Delectable finished product

Here's the recipe (from America's Test Kitchen, with additions for the shape and color):

5 cups (20 oz) sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
8 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
vegetable oil spray
(optional) green food coloring and sprinkles
  1. Pulse the coconut in a food processor until finely chopped and transfer to a large bowl. Process the egg whites, sugar, salt, almond extract and food coloring if using, together in the food processor until light and foamy, about 15 seconds. Stir the egg mixture into the chopped coconut until combined. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with vegetable oil spray. Using wet hands, shape 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a wreath shape on the parchment paper. You may find that using a small cylinder in the middle of the wreath helps keep the shape consistent. Keep about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with non-melting sprinkles. Large red ball sprinkles melt and should be added after baking.
  3. Bake until the macaroons are light golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheets for 30 minutes before serving.
The other most important thing we discovered came later. We were invited to a cookie exchange party that was very popular, i.e. seventeen different bakers were coming. At six cookies per person, that meant making eight and a half dozen cookies! Of course, that meant taking home eight and a half dozen, far too many for any normal sized family to eat in a single holiday season. So we did the only thing we could. We made variety plates and gave them to our non-attending friends. This happened two weeks before Christmas. Then the important thing happened--reciprocity! We received plates of homemade cookies from those to whom we had given. That was awesome, though we still have more cookies than we should probably eat by ourselves. Happily, the freezer has some room and a lot of patience...

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