Alice Mendrich’s Lime-in-the-Coconut Macaroons

2 05 2012

Coconut snubbers – get out now.

I thought I hated macaroons too, I truly did. Gooey little processed sugarpiles with sticky bits that inevitably get lodged in your palate, only to be unearthed by nothing short of archeological excavation hours later.

If you couldn’t tell already by the crispy punk rock style of Alice Medrich’s version, these puppies have zero in common with those bland saccharine nightmares.

Instead of the cloying shredded fluff called for in most recipes, here you use coconut flakes – unsweetened! – then heat them over a double boiler mixed with classic egg whites, a touch of sugar, and a few drops of vanilla. They take a siesta for half an hour, the better to absorb the slowly hydrating egg. A heap of lime zest rounds out the dough, which is piled into attractive little spike-bundles and dusted with cinnamon, then briefly singed at high heat followed by coalescing under lower intensity.

They’re light, miniature piña coladas. They’re lime-in-the-coconut buttercrisps. They’re gluten-free. They will disappear within 24 hours.

Alice Mendrich’s Lime-in-the-Coconut Macaroons
from food52’s take on Alice Mendrich’s recipe.

4 large egg whites
3 1/2 cups unsweetened dried flaked, not shredded, coconut (also apparently known as coconut chips?)
3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest from 1 lime
cinnamon for dusting

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel because the mixture will heat faster than in glass. Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water (if your bowl bobs in the water, simply pour some out). Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.

2. Stir grated lime zest into batter.

3. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F/170C. Using approximately 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. Dust dough with cinnamon. Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

4. Lower the temperature to 325F/160C and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are a beautiful cream and gold with deeper brown edges, again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, lower the heat to 300F/150C. Set just the liners on racks to cool. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie.

Browned Butter Sugar Cookies

3 01 2012

What you see here is Magnificence, Liquified. One-and-a-half sticks of All-Amerikun buttah, coddled and mollified over medium heat until coaxed into caramelization.

The entire aim of this process, these slight additions (dark brown sugar, AP flour, vanilla, salt. no more.), is to showcase. Tempting and beckoning are fruits, spices. But today is not a day for frills nor complications.

This process is from the internet. Vanilla vodka with a hint of amaretto complements our homage.

The raw goods have been resting in the cold, serene and congealing, for a matter of hours. It’s time, and we slice.

A dozen short minutes later, and our homestead transforms into altar. The golden discs crumble and crunch into nutty complexity, the butterfat core having evolved into much more than the sum of its lipid parts. The centers hang tight to a note of chewiness, a sublime marriage of salt crystals and butter rum. They are unsuspecting and unimpressive pre-bite, only blooming into Brilliance upon touching the tongue’s tip and expanding their butterscotch guile throughout the entire palate.

Browned Butter Sugar Cookies
not adapted whatsoever from A Warm as a July Tomato

1.5 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 c AP flour
healthy pinch salt
1-2 tsp water (optional, if dough is dry)

1. Brown butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milkfats have caramelized and your kitchen smells of absolute heaven. Let cool completely.

2. Cream butter with sugar and vanilla until smooth and a bit lighter in color.

3. Add in flour and salt; mix until combined fully into a crumbly dough, similar to pie crust. Add in just a touch of water if you live in a dry climate, or your dough looks especially fragile.

4. Roll dough into log shape in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or so.

5. Remove dough from plastic wrap and cut into 1/4 inch discs. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 12 minutes, on parchment paper if you like. Let cool completely on pan before attempting to move.

Saturday Night: Full Throttle

12 02 2011

What it’s like, early: Hector locates the previously missing house wine – Rioja Antaño – at Ahorra Más. I bake cookies, employing a hammer to bust apart a pair of 72% dark chocolate bars with cocoa nibs.

What it’s like, later: I touch up my Wicked Witch of the West nails.

What it’s like, later still: As Marta paparazzis, Hector and I meet our groomed new selves in the mirror. Totally coincidentally, we have both decided on today as the Day of Reckoning for our long-neglected mops of hair.

What it’s like, just a smidge later: a little Morrissey, a little Elvis, a lot of curlybang, and a touch of Pac-Man.

What it’s like, latest known record: Hector, house mixologist, concocts a trio of the latest in G&Ts, each featuring elements of cucumber, lime, and grapefruit.