coconut macaroons

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An amazing thing happened last week.  I had a Saturday off, I had a fresh batch of coconut macaroons and there was light.  The macaroons were a result of a Thursday night gluten-free cooking class (best present ever).  Since Jon and I both participated in the class we ended up with about 60 coconut macaroons.  I took a batch to work where they were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone from residents to social workers to administrators.  A few were enjoyed by guests we had visiting for the weekend and the rest – well – let’s just say that my lunches were pretty sweet last week.

coconut macaroons
yield: about 24 cookies

recipe notes:  The original recipe calls for a 250 degree oven, however we baked ours at 300.  This gave them a crispier shell.  The recipe recommends baking 25 to 30 minutes.  We started checking them around 25 min.  If you want softer cookies, take them out when they’re soft but if you want them crispier on the exterior, keep them in & turn down the oven temp to 250 for another 5 or so minutes.

2 egg whites
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups sweetened shredded dried coconut
1/2 – 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
chocolate, for dipping (optional)

1.  Preheat an oven to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

2.  In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they just barely hold soft peaks. Beat in the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, stir together the 3 cups coconut and just enough of the condensed milk to make a sticky batter. Fold in the egg white mixture.

4.  Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Dip the spoon into cold water every once in a while to prevent the batter from sticking.

5.  Bake until the cookies are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the oven off. Prop the oven door ajar and leave the cookies in the oven for 10 minutes more. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely on the pans, then remove the cookies from the pans.

6.  Optional:  Melt some chocolate in a double broiler.  Dip cookies, cool on baking sheet.

Source: Williams-Sonoma

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coconut macaroons & a care package

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February is a big birthday month in our family.  I was fortunate enough to celebrate with my brother in person.  My sister, away at college, got a care package.  Last year for her birthday we made my grandma’s coconut cake, but this year I needed something both portable & gluten-free (because even though she’s not, I am, and I needed to taste them before I sent them).  Enter macaroons.  Sweet, light, coconut-y goodness.

I_0183Happy Birthday, sweet girl.  You’re the best.

coconut macaroons
yield: 24 macroons

4 egg whites (from large eggs)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups sweetened coconut flakes

1.  Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (I used two silpats).

2.  In the bowl of standing mixer or with a hand-mixer, beat egg whites, vanilla, and salt on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, another 3 minutes. Gently fold the coconut flakes into the egg white mixture. (If you want a more dense, less meringue-like macaroon, you can skip beating the whites altogether. Just whisk the egg whites, vanilla, salt, and sugar until frothy, then fold in the coconut.)

3. Uing a small dough scoop (or just a large spoon), form mounds of batter and drop onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the macaroons are just turning golden. Remove to a wire rack and cool copletely.

source: thekitchn

also in the package?  Some clothes of hers I borrowed (thank you) and a new scarf (because every college girl needs some lululemon)

macaroons, elsewhere: lime in the coconut macaroons from bon appetit

(favorite) peanut butter cookies

I’ve been making these peanut butter cookies for quite some time now.  They are a favorite of my peanut-butter chocolate-loving brother and sister so when both of them headed back to school (one as a teacher, one as a college freshman), a care package was in order.

There was no real debate about what to send because these are a clear favorite.  They are richly peanut-buttery (both via the actual peanut-butter and peanut-butter chips) and the dark chocolate chips are an excellent – and completely necessary – accompaniment.

Make them, package them up and send them away, along with enough change for a carton of milk.

peanut butter cookies
yield: about 3 dozen cookies
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I have always used creamy peanut butter for these cookies, but Deb mentioned she thinks that the bakery used crunchy.  If you really want to pack these cookies with as much peanut as possible, I’d use crunchy.  Someday, I’ll remember to try them that way 🙂

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine (for sprinkling)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern (or, a small offset spatula to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

3.  Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

4. Package and send to your favorite student or teacher.

Source:  Magnolia Bakery Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Cookies

We’ve been having many visitors recently and while that’s usually a fun opportunity to try something new or different, I’ve found that it’s hard to beat a classic chocolate chip cookie.  It wasn’t until I went to make them that I realized I didn’t have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I’m sure that my grandmother had one but it isn’t in her blue-bound book.  So, I went to my next-best source for the original of anything: Betty Crocker.  I know, I know.  There are probably better sources for chocolate chip cookie recipes.  After all, there are newspaper articles about these things.  I didn’t want anything fancy like espresso powder or pretzels mixed in (though it sounds delicious and I’m sure I’ll try their recipe someday).  I just wanted a good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie.

Betty delivered.  These are classic – in method, taste and texture.  Cream together butter and two types of sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, then your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt).  Finally, mix in the chips – and nuts.  Bake until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.  Pour a glass of milk (or two, or three).  Gather friends.  Enjoy crispy exterior, chewy interior, chocolate-in-every-bite classically delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Yield: 4 dozen (ish)

As with make cookies I make, I flash-freezze about half the dough after shaping it into the individual balls.  I bake them straight from the freezer, just add a minute or two to the overall baking time.  This comes in handy when you have unexpected guests or when your guests finish the cookies and you want one just for yourself the next day.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, preferably at room temperature
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  With a mixer on medium, cream together butter and sugars.  Blend in egg and vanilla.  In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  The dough will be stiff.  Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips.

3.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Alternatively, get fancy and use a dough scoop.

4.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft).  Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet.  Cool on wire rack.

Source:  Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

Molasses Spice Cookies

I know, I know.  I haven’t been posting much recently.  I haven’t been in the kitchen much recently.  The best I could do for you this week was bake some cookies that have been in the freezer since December.  Which means that they’re absolutely out of season now.  But I’m not going to discriminate.  And you shouldn’t either because these cookies are really lovely.  Sure, they taste like gingerbread and make me wonder why there isn’t Eggnog nearby, but they are also perfectly textured and wonderfully complex in flavor.  Try them now or wait until next winter.  Either way, I can promise you won’t be disappointed when you do.

Molasses Spice Cookies
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Yield: 40 cookies (I say 20 for now, 20 for later)

As indicated in my post, this cookie dough (like most cookie dough) does just fine when made, flash frozen and baked from the freezer days, weeks or months later.  If you wish to do this, proceed through Step 4, flash freeze on the cookie sheet for 20 minutes and toss into a labeled freezer bag.  When you bake them just add about 5 minutes onto the baking time.

3/4 cup butter
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 large egg

1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Pour into a bowl and let cool.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves together in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Stir the sugar, molasses, and egg into the butter with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients in two additions and mix until combined. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour or until dough is firm enough to shape.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Fill a small bowl with sugar for covering the dough balls.  Take the dough out of the refrigerator.  Using your hands, take a piece of dough and roll in your hands to form an approximately 1-inch ball.  Roll the ball in the sugar until thoroughly coated and place on the baking sheet. Place the balls about 3 inches apart on the sheets. It is also a good idea to stagger the rows so the cookies have the most room to spread out.

5. Bake for about 9 minutes or until they have flattened out and browned slightly, and the tops have cracked. Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking.  Remove the cookies from the oven and place sheets on cooling racks for several minutes until they have firmed up, then transfer cookies directly to the racks to finish cooling.

Source: adapted from Dessert First who got it from Great Cookies by Carole Walter