Christmastime is for Cookies
I have been waiting and waiting for the baking bug to bite. It’s Christmas, after all.
Part of the problem may have been a Thanksgiving hangover of sorts. Not only did I run the kitchen for what my friends and I call “fake Thanksgiving,” an all-out Thanksgiving feast above and beyond all of our family obligations on the real Turkey day, but David and I hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new place. His family came, my family came–and it was the first time we even had a place set up for hosting, so it was kind of a big deal.
I think that’s why I spent most of this Christmas season not feeling the urge to roll out the sugar cookies or decorate the gingerbread houses. Then, at work, my Secret Santa got me an adorable gift basket full of baking paraphernalia. Spatulas and mixing bowls and towels and cookbooks. And so, the baking bug bit.
When I decided I wanted to bake, last weekend, I started poking around different websites and blogs looking for some great Christmas cookie recipes. I started at the Food Network site, where I was excited to see their 2008 12 Days of Cookies guide had started. It sounded so promising!
I was actually rather disappointed with what I found. Sandra Lee was more focused on pretty than tasty, with her Sugar Cookie ornaments, Duff’s cookies looked strange, Paula Deen had some Snowflake cookies that looked okay, but nothing special. Alton Brown’s submission, however, was just what I was looking for. He calls them Paradise Macaroons, and I have to say, the name suits them.
First of all, they were simple to make. There’s some fuss on the Food Network boards about how it’s confusing that he only provides measurements in terms of weight, not volume, but I don’t think that should be a surprise to anyone who’s seen his show.
Second, they were delicious. My husband, who had never had a macaroon, apparently has a new favorite cookie. They’re light and crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, with just the right amount of sweetness. I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips for the coating, and I substituted chopped walnuts for the macadamia nuts, since that’s what I had on hand.
Third, they were beautiful. They look as good as they taste!
Overall, I was very impressed with this recipe, and will definitely make again.
- 2 (7 to 8-ounce) packages sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature
- 5 ounces granulated sugar
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
- 1 ounce vegetable shortening
- 2 ounces finely chopped dry-roasted macadamia nuts (I used finely chopped walnuts)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip the whites until medium peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer the parchment with the macaroons to a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.
Fill a 4-quart pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the side, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small metal or glass mixing bowl and set over the simmering pot. Stir occasionally until melted, then remove from the heat.
Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate mixture, sprinkle with the chopped nuts and place on parchment paper to set, about 30 minutes.
Note: My one concern with this recipe is that as written, there is way too much chocolate topping. I used the 12 ounces of chocolate to 1 ounce of shortening recipe for a double batch of macroons, and still had chocolate left over for another cookie. I would recommend halving the chocolate dip for just a single batch of cookies.