Dishing the DivineYum!

black bottom coconut macaroons

June 24th, 2012 · 6 Comments

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Do you love Groupon / Living Social / Google Offer deals as much as we do? We collect so many that we have a spreadsheet to keep track of them. Yes, we’re nerds, and we’re proud of it. :) One of our recent purchases was a deal at a local used book store. For $10 we were able to buy $20 worth of used books. I love books and if I had it my way, I would have an entire library in my house with one shelf devoted to cookbooks. While at the book store, I came across the book Big Fat Cookies¬†and I knew I had hit gold. I showed the book to my students the week before finals and let them pick a cookie of their choice to eat on our last day together. One girl chose these black bottom coconut macaroons. I was skeptical (really? macaroons? for a high schooler?) but they were delicious! Total win! Not only that, they have to be among the easiest cookies I have ever made. How often do you have cookie batter ready bake before the oven is even preheated? Now that’s my type of cookie!

These are chock full of coconut and are laced with a healthy dose of almond extract. If you don’t love almond extract, you may want to cut back on the amount listed in the recipe. The chocolate base makes these cookies stand out and I think the bittersweet chocolate is a perfect balance for the gooey sweet macaroon. These would make a great last minute cookie to take to a party… or to store at home and eat when no one is looking!

black bottom coconut macaroons

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 7 large macaroons

Ingredients

cookies
7 ounce bag of shredded sweetened coconut (about 2 2/3 cups)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp almond extract (this imparts a really strong flavor... reduce if you prefer the coconut taste to stand out)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg white
pinch cream of tartar
1 tbsp sugar
chocolate coating
9 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and butter the paper.
  2. In a large bowl, use a fork to stir the coconut, condensed milk, salt and extracts together. Set aside.
  3. In an impeccably clean bowl, use a whisk or hand held mixer on low speed to beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are foamy and the cream of tartar dissolves. Whisking vigorously or beating on medium high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Whisk or beat in the sugar. Use a rubber spatula to fold half of the whipped egg whites into the coconut mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped egg whites.
  4. Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup with 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the coconut batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the macaroons about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake until the bottoms of the cookies and the tips of the coconut shreds are light brown, about 17 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then slide a metal spatula under the macaroons to loosen them from the parchment and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Put the chocolate and oil in a heatproof container on top of a double boiler or pan of boiling water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and let cool and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  7. Scrape the chocolate coating into a small bowl. Dip the bottom of each macaroon into the chocolate and place the cookies, chocolate bottoms up or on their sides, on a wire rack. (You will have some chocolate coating left over for another use or to pour over ice cream. It is easier to dip using a large amount of coating.) Let the macaroons sit at room temperature until the chocolate coating is firm, about 1 hour. Or, to speed the firming of the chocolate, refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
  8. The cookies can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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cheater chocolate turtles (with fleur de sel)

June 13th, 2012 · 6 Comments

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In case you were wondering where I’ve been lately, let me explain: growing a baby is a lot of work. Prepping for a baby’s impending arrival is even more work including rearranging the house, painting furniture, buying the necessities, and cramming in as much fun as possible before sleep deprivation begins! Add to that a 30+ person surprise birthday party for my husband and preparing students for finals and, well… you get the drift. I dropped off the planet for a while, but now that I am on summer break I have some amazing recipes up my sleeve to share with you.

You are going to love these treats! Well, that is, you will if you love caramel and chocolate and pecans . If you hate any of these ingredients, you may want to skip this particular recipe as there is no avoiding the onslaught of caramel-y, nutty goodness that these babies contain. I made these for my students as a bribe to “please remember me for something other than just forcing you to practice trig equations”. I know I’m their math tutor, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll look back on their time with me with fond memories that include cookies, kittens, and great laughs. If not, they can always remember the excellent grade they got in the class and how excited they were about that. :)

I call these cheater turtles because they’re everything that those famous goodies are known for without the hassle of arranging pecan pieces just-so. They come together in no time at all and are perfect for kids and adults alike.

Don’t skip the sea salt on top. It’s what really makes these treats pop!

cheater chocolate turtles (with fleur de sel)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 12-16 cookies

Ingredients

caramel sauce:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) pecan halves
chocolate coating
6 ounces (1 generous cup) milk or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp canola oil
fleur de sel sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Grease a baking sheet lightly with oil and set aside. Set out a large spoon.
  2. Make the caramel sauce: In a medium saucepan, cook the butter, brown sugar, and honey over medium heat, stirring often, until the butter and sugar melt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for exactly 2 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Be sure to stir all around the edges of the pan to prevent burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans, stirring to coat them with caramel, then immediately use a large spoon to drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely. (As soon as the clusters are cool, they will slide easily off the oiled baking sheet.)
  3. Make the chocolate coating: Put the chocolate and oil in a heatproof container on the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and let cool until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.*
  4. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate coating over the top of each cookie (use all the chocolate coating) so that some chocolate drizzles down the sides. The clusters should not be completely covered with chocolate (although I completely covered mine because I LOVE chocolate!). Sprinkle with fleur de sel sea salt. Let the cookie clusters sit at room temperature until the chocolate coating is firm, about 1 hour. Or, to speed the firming of the chocolate, refrigerate the cookies for about 20 minutes.
  5. The cookies can be stored covered in a single layer in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature. The cookies will become firm and brittle when cold but soften when brought back to room temperature.
  6. *Feeling ambitious? Temper the chocolate so that you can leave the cookies out at room temperature without the fat solids separating from the chocolate. You can read more about tempering chocolate here: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2010/03/how-to-temper-chocolate.html
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angel food cake

June 1st, 2012 · 3 Comments

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My husband loves angel food cake and yet I have never made it for him. I think it’s because I have tasted only the Safeway version and the spongy texture creeped me out. How in the world can a cake be sooooo spongy? I found a recipe on Cook’s Illustrated’s website and a quick perusal of the ingredients answered my question: a dozen egg whites. Yowsers. That is a lot of egg whites! Fortunately, one batch of homemade vanilla ice cream uses a half dozen egg yolks, so all I need to do is time one angel food cake and two batches of ice cream and I am left with no waste at all!

This cake is heavenly. It is perfect topped with a mound of lightly sweetened whipped cream and some fresh berries. You can serve it at a formal occasion or for a weeknight dessert. Either way, it’s delicious! Now that I know how easy it is to prepare angel food cake, I will make this cake often throughout the summer to go with all those wonderful strawberries and blueberries at the local farmer’s market!

angel food cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

1 cup sifted cake flour (3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups sifted granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
12 large egg whites (1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity), preferably with a removable bottom. If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 3/4 cup sugar. Place remaining 3/4 cup sugar in another small bowl next to the mixer.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or with a handheld mixer, beat egg whites at low speed until just broken up and beginning to froth. Add cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until whites form very soft, billowy mounds. With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all sugar is added and whites are shiny and form soft peaks. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and almond extract and beat until just blended.
  4. Place flour-sugar mixture in a sifter set over waxed paper. Sift flour-sugar mixture over egg whites about 3 tablespoons at a time, and gently fold it in, using a large rubber spatula. Sift any flour-sugar mixture that falls onto the paper back into the bowl with the whites.
  5. Gently scrape batter into pan, smooth the top, and give pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly, 50 to 60 minutes.
  7. If cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert pan onto them. If not, invert pan over the neck of a bottle or funnel so that air can circulate all around it. Let the cake cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
  8. To unmold, run a knife around edges, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake. Slide cake out of pan and cut the same way around removable bottom to release, or peel off parchment or wax paper, if used.
  9. Place the cake, bottom-side up, on a platter. Cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Serve the cake the day it is made.
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→ 3 CommentsTags: dessert · easy · fruit

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