Sometimes, people assume the worst in given situations.
For example, I texted Kristen (bff) at around 11:30pm on Sunday night as I was peeling off my hockey gear and about to head back up to the ‘burbs after my game. All my text said was, “You up?” Kristen, knowing that I am normally long gone to bed, assumed the worst and called me within seconds asking, “Is everything okay!?” Yes, yes, yes!
She said she didn’t even want to SAY what her mind went to first after getting my text. Apparently, my very religious early-to-bed sleep patterns have others assuming the worst when I’m out of my routine. I just wanted to catch up!
When it comes to me and baking, I assume the worst. I anticipate disaster, quite frankly.
My first attempt at Chocolate Macarons looked like…little piles of nasty, inedible piles of….you get my drift. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I had no idea what to expect taste-wise or texture-wise from a macaron (yes, you are reading between the lines correctly…I was a macaron virgin), but I knew that they had this very distinct, smooth, round appearance with a textured bottom lip.
Being the novice that I am, I didn’t even pause to note the spelling difference between macaron and macaroon, but let’s quickly discuss. A macaron (one “o”) is a French cookie made with almond and egg whites that is sandwiches around a cream-based filling. A macaroon (two “o’s”) is a flour-less egg white-based cookie, commonly made with coconut.
What I know of macarons is that they can be challenging to make…very challenging. Many bakers and bloggers fear the task of macaron-making. However, the novice, inept baker in me thought, “Why not give’em a shot!” while the very practical side of me screamed, “Those things are filled with caramel-coconut Samoa goodness…figure it out woman! Stat.”
Two attempts, several hours, and a mess of a kitchen later…here we are. I made 40 macarons inspired by my favorite Girl Scout cookie — the Samoa, or “Caramel Delight” if you were a mid-80’s baby Girl Scoutin’ in Chicago.
Mr. Prevention got so sick of my excitement over macaron success — I think I asked him if they were pretty 54 times and smiled until it hurt. I felt like I had accomplished the impossible — me and baking…the infamous macaron. Who knew? If you’re ever up for a baking challenge – voila! The juice is so worth the squeeze…these are KILLER!
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 1/4 cups almond meal
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp egg whites (from ~4 large eggs), room temperature, whisked to loosen
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
30 chewy caramels, unwrapped
1 1/2 Tbsp whole milk
Preheat oven to 300 F. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and toast 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet. Set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 325 F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pulse 1 cup powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor until well combined. Add cocoa powder and remaining 1 cup powdered sugar; process to blend well. Sift mixture through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl.
Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat 1/3 cup egg whites in a medium bowl on medium speed until white and frothy, about 1 minute. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add sugar by teasponfuls. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until firm peaks form.
Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons egg whites. Fold meringue into dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing well between additions.
Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ tip. (Alternatively, spoon into a plastic freezer bag, then cut 1/4″ off a corner of bag — I did this…worked great). Twist top of bag and pipe quarter dollar-size rounds onto 2 of the 3 prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Let stand until tops appear dry, about 10 minutes.
Bake cookies until puffed and dry, about 16 minutes. Slide cookies on parchment onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, put the unwrapped caramels and milk in microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 secons. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
Drop a rounded teaspoon of filling on to a macaron shell and gently sandwich another shell on top. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: 40 macaroons, assembled.
Nutrition Information (per macaron): 96 calories; 3.6 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 45 mg. sodium; 15.1 g. carbohydrate; 1.4 g. fiber; 1.5 g. protein
Result: These were…phenomenal! These definitely take some finness, and my macaron skills need some practice, but I had a lot of fun tackling this challenge. The end result were these delicate, chocolate macarons with a chewy, uber sweet caramel coconut filling that was to die for! If you love samoas, these are such a fun take on the ever-loved Girl Scout cookie classic!
Off to my old clinic for my final, last day. I have officially been replaced!