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Saving the holidays, one macaroon at a time

This week’s installment of Seattlest finds me conquering the Christmastime cheese ball and supplanting it with more readily edible—and enjoyable—homemade holiday gifts. Each December, I relish the chance to hole up in my kitchen and churn out dozens of delicious things to give away, and I can’t help but spread the gospel.

Though there is certainly no shortage of wonderful holiday treats making their way around the web, I’ll be calling your attention to a few of my own favorites over the next three weeks. First on the list is a plain, simple, and delicious coconut macaroon,

adapted from Tom’s Big Dinners, by Seattle culinary celebrity (and recent “Iron Chef” winner) Tom Douglas. I love a good macaroon, as I’ve already made clear, and Douglas’s is no exception. While my usual chocolate-covered rendition is rich, moist, and toothsomely dense, his is lighter than air, with a sweet meringue base to give it a chewy, fluffy interior and a shatteringly crisp shell. I'm hard put to say which version I prefer, but the ease—and, dare I say, dirty-snowball appearance—of these makes them a shoo-in for the season.


Blogger Nic said...

I love coconut macaroons, but I've only had the good fortune to have one of these lighter-type ones once before. But now you're published the recipe, I think I'll have to give them a go myself this weekend!

9:16 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Monkey Gland said...

to be honest I'd probably go with you dense chocolate bad boys!

1:22 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Shauna said...

They look fabulous, as always. I'm going to try them with a bit of unsweetened coconut flakes: those chemicals sounds glutenized to me. That's only a technicality, though. They look simply luscious, my dear.

6:37 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger tara said...

I'm one who loves making rich desserts, but rarely can actually eat very much of them. So this etheral alternative to the favourite dense macaroon may be my undoing this holiday season ... I won't have my "oh no, I can't, too rich" excuse to get away from the sweets table!

8:38 AM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Emmeya said...

That was a mean trick, making me look at that cheeseball!! I felt better once I scrolled down and saw the chickpeas and greens, though!

8:56 AM, December 07, 2005  
Anonymous Dave said...

My wife has a version that's going in our cookie box gifts this year that uses some unsweetened, grated coconut and some sweetened. It's from Cooks' Illustrated. They are wonderful! These too look decadent.

6:32 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

[Oh MY. I have gotten heinously behind in replying to comments! Mea culpa, dear readers. Please forgive.]

Nic, until I tasted Tom Douglas's version, I thought I was solidly of the dense-macaroon camp. But the wondrous lightness of these, coupled with their delicate chew, is enough to plant me firmly on the fence. Looks like I'll be alternating recipes--now dense, now light--from now on. Could be worse, eh?

Monkey Gland, I understand completely. You can never go wrong with chocolate, and anyway, who doesn't love a bad boy? I mean, really.

Shauna, thank you! I'm not sure how these would work with unsweetened coconut, but you'll most likely need to add more sugar. With a little tweaking and your magic touch, you should come out with something delicious...

Tara, these macaroons deliver on rich coconut flavor without all the lead-in-the-stomach results. Sounds like they're tailor-made for you! The sweets table calls...

Oh Emmeya, that was nothing! My dear, you must see a cheeseball in person, and then you can truly squeal. [Shudder.]

Dave, I'll have to look up that Cook's Illustrated recipe. Christopher Kimball usually hits the nail right on the head. Thanks for the tip!

8:30 PM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Emmeya said...

My friend's brother owns an excellent Thai restauarant where I live and he made wonderful Thai food for us on New Year's Eve, and the appetizers were appropriately exotic. But this one woman brought a port wine cheese ball, and I don't think I saw her eat anything else! My eyes were glued to it, it was horrifying, all crusted in almonds slivers that were dyed red from the cheese. Ah. Cheese balls.

11:30 AM, January 10, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Emmeya, that sounds terrifying. I'm so glad you could seek refuge in some good, spicy Thai food, the perfect anti-cheese ball weapon! [Shudder.]

10:34 PM, January 10, 2006  
Blogger Irina said...

I made these macaroons today and they turned out DELICIOUS but for some reason the crust is not crisp at all... This is fine by me as they are great anyway but I'm wondering where I went wrong. I did use matzo meal instead of regular flour, but the recipe only calls for two tablespoons of flour, so I doubt this could have made a difference. Is it the humidity in the air, perhaps, with the rainy weather outside and the other cooking I did after the macaroons were ready?

10:32 PM, March 29, 2010  
Blogger Molly said...

Irina, I can't say for sure, but I'm inclined to think that the humidity is at fault. I know that meringue-based baked goods can be very finicky about that kind of thing. That said, though, I have never tried baking or cooking with matzo meal, and I'm not sure how it would work here. (Although, like you, somehow I doubt it's the problem.)

9:19 AM, March 30, 2010  

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