Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Coconut is one of those flavors that is both exotic and completely homey at the same time. It's technically a tropical fruit, but it is such a staple flavor that I feel as though that is often overlooked. I mean, Mango, sure. But coconut? It's so easy to find and it comes in handy neat little bags that you don't have to break into with a hammer. You can put it in so many things... curry, muffins, ice cream, pie. It can be background noise, or it can smack you over the head in shining star form.

So lets talk about when coconut smacks you over the head. I'm talking here about Coconut Macaroons.
I remember eating these when I was young. They were delicious little mounds of soft and squishy coconut with a thin drizzle of chocolate over the top. They were quite delicate. Now that I'm a grown up, though, I can be the boss of my own kitchen and make them the way I really wanted them to be.... enormous, chewy, and packed with extra chocolate.

When I started to make these the other day, I wasn't really thinking about doing much to them but adding a little cocoa powder. Fate, however, intervened. I couldn't find my cream of tartar. It was lurking way back in my cabinet and as I was rifling through all of my various and sundry jars, I happened to knock over a jar of cocoa nibs. I was already going to grind some almonds, so I figured what the heck and decided to include them as well. It turned out to be the most fantastic idea I've had in a while! The cocoa nibs give the macaroons a really great chocolate flavor without taking anything away from the coconut. It's almost harmonious.

These are really the kind of rich macaroons that you can sink your teeth into. This recipe makes only eight. You could always go ahead and make them smaller, but in my mind you'd just have to eat twice as many, so eat a nice big one instead.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Inspired by Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess

For this recipe, I would recommend going by weight for most of the ingredient, which is what I have provided here.

2 Egg Whites
8oz Shredded Coconut
3.5oz Sugar
1oz Almonds, ground
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Nibs, ground
1 Teaspoon Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Pinch of Salt
2 Tablespoons Dark Chocolate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 335°F.
Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and which until they are starting to get more glossy and peaky. Then, while whisking, add the sugar a little at a time until combined, then add a pinch of salt. Whisk more until peaks are beginning to form. Grind the almonds and cocoa nibs, fold them into the egg white mixture along with the vanilla and cocoa powder. Then, mix in the coconut gently. The mixture should basically coat all the coconut, it shouldn't be runny at all.
Form the mixture into 8 largish balls on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are starting to turn a little golden on top and around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. If you like, melt two tablespoons of dark chocolate and drizzle a little over each Macaroon before eating.

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