May it Please the Palate: "Coconut Macaroons"

By Nick Roumel I have a friend who shall be referred to herein as "Paquetta." I know her from three random connections: fundraisers, reggae dance parties, and baking macaroons. While she is noteworthy for the first two, she is nonpareil in the latter. Actually finding these macaroons, however, is like stumbling upon Brigadoon. "Paquetta, could you make me some macaroons?" "Sure! I'll have them to you by Friday." A month later, I run into her. "Hi!" No mention of the macaroons. I am crazy with obsession, but I say nothing so as to avoid offending the master. There are two kinds of macaroons. There are the delicate French kind, a glazed meringue sandwich with a jam or cream filling. Oo-la-freaking-la. And then there are Paquetta's. A heap of sweet coconut, dipped in bittersweet chocolate, as big as a baby's fist, and crazy delicious. Her macaroons are also models of simplicity. Paquetta would brag that they were essentially four ingredients: coconut, egg white, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate. I became captive to her next batch, whenever it might arrive. And then I had this amazing idea. I could make my own. The idea started to take form when I received my December "Food and Wine." There is a New York baker by the name of Danny Cohen, who goes by "Danny Macaroons." Danny is a devil-may-care risk taker. He says macaroons don't have to be round. "Make whatever shape you want. There are no rules." What a madcap. But I have to admit, Danny knows his macaroons. And now that I have the secret to making them myself, I am not so beholden to the enigmatic Paquetta. Coconut Macaroons One 14-oz bag sweetened shredded coconut One 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 2 large egg whites 1/4 tsp salt 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted in a double boiler 1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or wax paper, lightly coated with cooking oil spray). 2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. 3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. 4. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture. 5. Scoop mounds of the mixture, the size of a baby's fist, onto the baking sheets, about one inch apart. 6. Bake about 25 minutes. Crazy Danny recommends shifting the sheets between the upper and middle racks of the oven during baking for even cooking. 7. Cool the macaroons on racks. After cooling, dip the bottoms in the melted chocolate. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set. Crazy Danny says the macaroons can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. How would he know? Did he go out of town? Did he forget the combination to the refrigerator? See you, Paquetta. Maybe at the next reggae fundraiser. Published: Mon, Dec 5, 2011