Friday, April 11, 2014

dark chocolate coconut macaroons

truffle-like dark chocolate macaroons

2014 has been mostly about the chocolate thus far, which is the kind of thing that happens when you outsource what-to-cook-next decisions to my husband and his Mini-Me. We bounced from Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts to Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake before landing on a Double Chocolate Banana Bread which, even a month later leads to the weekly “accidental” purchase of way more bananas that we’d ever eat, so we “have” to make more, no violins necessary. Thus, it would be easy to blame the boys in my family for what I did to an innocent coconut macaroon — that is, saddling it with not one but two types of chocolate, until it was intensely fudgy and brownie-like with an almost gooey center, seriously why aren’t you baking these yet? — but guys, this was all me.

grind the coconut
unsweetened chocolate wins

Because although I do not share my family’s perspective that if it’s not chocolate, it’s not worth eating, I feel adamant that if you’re going to eat chocolate, it should really, really taste like chocolate. And, pitifully, every chocolate coconut macaroon I’ve had, along with some other cookies that will no doubt cause you to storm out of here in disgust once and for all, failed this test.

dark chocolate coconut macaroon batter

scoop them tiny; they're intense
cookies might look underbaked

A few tablespoons of cocoa powdered added to a standard coconut is just not enough. It makes coarse, muddy-brown marbles with weak flavor. It’s for compromising, not aspiring, and I think we should all dream big in the kitchen, about macaroons and everything else. And so, I made a few changes. I know it’s less popular these days, but I really prefer sweetened coconut flakes for macaroons, as it packs in a tremendous amount of moisture; dry macaroons shouldn’t be a given. As I’ve done before, I began by grinding down my shredded coconut for a smoother and more nut-like texture. I used cocoa powder, but more than is usually recommended, and I underbaked them, just a little, for that tender-centered effect. But it was the melted chocolate that was the revelation. Semisweet chocolate was good, but deeply bitter unsweetened chocolate catapulted this cooking into a level of chocolate intensity that could only be likened to a truffle, or a brownie. A deep, dark, fudgy brownie. That’s butter-free, flour free and takes all of 10 minutes to assemble. Dark chocolate macaroons for lunch today, anyone?

dark chocolate macaroons
really dark fudgy chocolate coconut macaroons

Macaroons, previously: Raspberry Coconut Macaroons, Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart and a Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte we love so much, I made a massive version of it for my father-in-law’s 65th last month, where not a single person was gluten-free. We just like it that much.

Passover recipes: Mostly dessert, plus one brisket and matzo ball soup, over here.

Good Reads: Are back by popular demand. Productivity is overrated; reading blogs is not.

Facebook: Are you finding that new updates from the Smitten Kitchen Facebook page aren’t showing up in your News Feed? Try this: Go to the SK Facebook page, click “Like,” (thank you!) and then “Get Notifications” from the dropdown menu. Not so into Facebook? Smitten Kitchen can also be followed via Email, Twitter, RSS, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr. Smitten Kitchen would send you a singing telegram, but you might want to wear earplugs for that.

One year ago: Ramp Pizza
Two years ago: Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches
Three years ago: Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
Four years ago: Tangy Spiced Brisket
Five years ago: Empanadas, Homemade Chocolate Wafers + Icebox Cupcakes
Six years ago: Swiss Easter Rice Tart and Vegetarian Cassoulet
Seven years ago: Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad and Arborio Rice Pudding

Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Yield: About 4 dozen small cookies

4 ounces (115 grams or about 1/3 cup) unsweetened chocolate (sometimes sold as 99%), chopped small
14 ounces (400 grams) sweetened, flaked coconut
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (30 grams) cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt or level 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat approximately half of chocolate chunks in a small saucepan until just melted, then, off the heat, stir in the remaining chunks until they’re smooth. The residual heat should be enough to melt them and leave the mixture lukewarm; if it’s not, heat the mixture again until just melted, but not very hot.

In a food processor, blend the coconut for one full minute. Add sugar and cocoa powder, blend another full minute. Add egg whites, salt and vanilla and blend until combined, then the melted chocolate until smooth. With a tablespoon measure or cookie scoop (I used a #70 scoop), scoop batter into 1-inch mounds. You can arrange the cookies fairly close together as they don’t spread, just puff a bit.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes, until the macaroons are shiny and just set. Let them rest on the tray for 10 minutes after baking (or you can let them fully cool in place, if you’re not in a rush to use the tray again), as they’ll be hard to move right out of the oven. They’ll firm up as they cool, but still remain softer and less dry inside than traditional macaroons. Thank goodness.

I like to dust them with a little powdered sugar once they’re cool. They’ll keep in an airtight container until your family finds out about them, or one week, whichever happens first.


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