Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tropical Macaroons

Delicious, and so paleo they're bangin' rocks together.
This is a recipe from Everyday Paleo that is apparently a part of their Easter menu. I suggest that you read the article in that link. It's got three other recipes in it that you might be interested in. (I'm probably never going to make the smoked salmon casserole, but that's because I don't like salmon, not because it looks like a bad recipe)

Anyway, the macaroons caught my eye, and since I already have a bunch of shredded coconut from the coconut macadamia shrimp recipe, it seemed like a good time to give it a try. I'm also deviating from the original recipe just a little by using canned pineapple. Since we'll be cooking it down anyway, there won't be much (if any) difference in the final product, and canned pineapple is easier to work with. Just make sure that you get the kind that's in 100% pineapple juice.

Make sure you get free range, organic, non-GMO, grass-fed,  never-sworn-at eggs. Failure to do so will irreparably damage your health.

4 egg whites
3 cups finely shredded coconut (unsweetened)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 20oz can of pineapple chunks
3 tbsp coconut milk

Large Bowl
Cookie Sheet
Parchment Paper (recommended)
Potato masher (recommended)

Preheat your oven to 325, and go ahead and either grease your cookie sheet or cut a piece of parchment paper to fit it. I prefer using parchment paper because it makes cleanup so much easier, and cookies never stick to it.

Put a pan over medium heat and add the coconut oil to it. Drain as much liquid as you can from the pineapple chunks and add them to the pan. Standard sized canned pineapple chunks are a little too big for this recipe, so you need to break them up somehow. I recommend using a potato masher on them in the pan. You could also chop them with a knife after you drain them and before they go into the pan, but that sounds a little messy to me.

Be careful with the potato masher, or you might fling hot pineapple onto yourself. Part of the beauty of Technically Paleo is that I get to learn these things the hard way so that you don't have to.

Cook the pineapple until any liquid in it has evaporated, and it has turned golden brown. You'll need to stir it occasionally as it cooks. When it's done, remove it from the pan so that it can cool down while you make the rest of the batter. Hot pineapple will cook your egg whites. Then you'll have a nice pineapple and coconut omelet. If that's not what you're trying to make, let the pineapple cool.

This is what it should look like when it's done. The liquid is pretty much gone, and the pineapple has browned slightly.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with your mixer until they're stiff. Start on a slow speed for a few seconds, and then gradually increase the speed of the mixer. It will take a minute or two with a good mixer. When it's ready, it will look white, like uncooked merangue (because that's what it is).

See my spiffy stand mixer? It was a present from Miriam, and it gets used A LOT.
You can also do the "stiff peaks" test. If you pull your mixer directly out of the egg whites and turn it upside down, a little point of egg whites should be standing up on the beaters. If there's no point, you're not done.

See? Standing up straight. That means the egg whites are done.

Now, use a spatula to fold the coconut into the egg whites. When I say "fold them in," this is what I mean:
  1. Put about half of the coconut into the bowl.
  2. Use the edge of the spatula to cut down into the center of the egg whites and coconut.
  3. Gently turn half of the batter over onto the other half, kind of like you're folding an omelet or flipping a pancake.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut to the bowl.
  5. Repeat step 3 about 10 times, while turning the bowl a quarter turn each time.
Being gentle like this preserves as much of the air as possible in the batter. The air is the only thing that will make the macaroons light and fluffy.

Be gentle.
Add the coconut milk to the pineapple and mix them together a little before adding both to the batter. Just like with the coconut, you want to fold this in.

You'll end up with a very loose, very dry batter.

Make little balls from the batter and place them on the cookie sheet. The balls should be about the size of a golf ball, and you should leave about an inch between each one. When you've filled up the cookie sheet, press each ball down a little. They should be kind of biscuit-shaped, not super flat.

How do you like my super-dramatic cookie angle?

Bake the macaroons for 20 minutes. They will firm up a little when they're done, and will have little golden-brown spots.

They're a little fragile, so be careful when you handle them.

  • The potato masher trick got the pineapple broken up into the right sized chunks, but I seriously flung pineapple all over myself by accident. You might want to mash the pineapple in the pan before you put the pan over the heat. That way, you'll at least only get cold pineapple on you.
  • When you're forming the macaroons into balls, you'll have to press them together a little or they'll fall apart. Also be careful when you flatten them that you don't mush them into pieces.
  • Usually, when a recipe asks you to fold ingredients into egg whites, it's super important that you don't stir all of the air out of them, because that air is there to make things light and fluffy. With this recipe, though, it's not actually that important. You're folding so much stuff into the egg whites that it probably doesn't matter what you do - they'll come out the same. It's still good practice to do it right, though.
  • I'm going to go ahead and put these in the indulgences category, but only because coconut is pretty calorie-dense. Nutritionally, I'd say you should feel comfortable having one of these any time you'd feel comfortable with eating a handful of nuts.

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