Friday, June 4, 2010

Not Talkin' about those Pretty Little French Things: Chocolate-Filled Coconut Macaroon Sandwich Cookies

Let's be clear from the get-go, these are not the pretty little French macarons that are being created as of late by everybody and their second-cousin in an array of spectacular colors.

Those are beautiful, no doubt about it, but I haven't yet mustered up the fortitude to attempt such temperamental delicacies. Every time I turn around, though, I find myself reading about them or watching demonstration videos that stress the contortions required to successfully produce them.

I suspect all the fuss only makes me more hesitant to try them. I do, however, anticipate that I'll learn to make them in Pastry 1 class next fall, and I figure it's best I just sit tight until I can observe first-hand how an expert actually cranks them out. So, for now, I'm in fancy-macaron waiting mode and that's okay with me.

These, however, are a splendid variation on the basic American macaroon--that coconut laden, chewy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside, white and golden institution that's frequently cloaked in melted chocolate. These wouldn't scare anybody away. They're as approachable as baseball, apple pie, and Uncle Sam himself.

Adapted from a formula that originally came from my fabulous Aunt Florence (and she really is fabulous) via my late mom's recipe collection, my revised version of these macaroons turned out exactly as I'd hoped. What makes these distinctive? Well, the presence of a small amount of  butter and cream cheese to start with. Aside from my aunt's version, I don't know if I've ever seen a macaroon recipe that includes cream cheese, let alone butter, but one can't deny that they both lend positively to the taste and texture.

Besides adjusting the proportions for most of the ingredients, I did some customizing by adding in a couple ounces of grated almond paste, which--I think--lends cookies like this a distinctive aura that they wouldn't otherwise possess. Yep, it's the almond paste that makes these truly macaroony (a non-technical term not to be confused with macaroni), and not just coconutty. I also decided to use one whole egg versus just the white or just the yolk, and I substituted a smidgen of milk for a bit of orange juice. My instincts also steered me toward the use of superfine sugar as an alternative to regular granulated; it gets a gold star for always mixing in so cooperatively.

The resulting cookie was absolutely delicious, with all the texture and flavor qualities I was aiming for. I am sure I will be making these again and again. I sandwiched the cookies with melted semisweet chocolate, but they can be sandwiched or dipped in any type of chocolate you like. Of course, if the chocolate aspect isn't your thing, they're perfectly pleasing unadorned, too.

(They kind of look like little hamburgers, don't they?  But really yummy hamburgers . . . )

Chocolate-Filled Coconut Macaroon Sandwich Cookies

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg
3 Tbsp. milk (I used 2 percent)
1 tsp. almond extract (I used Penzey's brand)
1 cup All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
scant 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups finely shredded dessicated coconut (this is dry, unsweetened coconut; you can find this in health food/whole food stores if it's not in your supermarket)
2 oz. almond paste, grated (make sure it says almond paste; don't accidentally use marzipan)

In a large mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, and superfine sugar on low speed until well blended. Add in the egg, milk, and almond extract on low speed until combined.

In a small separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add this into the above mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Continuing to beat on the lowest speed, gradually pour in all of the coconut; mix until combined. Pour in the grated almond paste and mix just until evenly blended.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and press it into a disk. Chill it in the fridge for about an hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using a portion scoop (I used size 40, which holds just about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons), portion the dough evenly onto the parchment, leaving a couple of inches between cookies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until they just begin to turn lightly golden on top. Let them cool on the cookie sheet on a rack for about five minutes before removing them to the rack to finish cooling completely.

If you like, slowly melt about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips/pieces of your choice in the microwave, or in a small bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water on the stove. Use about 2 tsp. melted chocolate to fill a pair of cookies by sandwiching them gently together. Let the filled cookies stand undisturbed so the chocolate can cool and set before serving them. Store the cookies in an airtight container; they'll stay fresh for days if well covered.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Unknown said...

love the shiny chocolate, have a nice weekend.

Susi's Kochen und Backen said...

Jane, this macaroons remind a lot of the kind I had growing up in Germany. They look just as delicious and maybe even better to me than all the other colored ones! As always beautiful pictures :o)

Jane said...

Hi Jennifurla,
Thanks so much! You too!

Hello Susi,
That's so nice of you to say!
Many thanks,
Jane :)

Mags @ the Other Side of 50 said...

To be fair, I'm not sure that I've ever eaten one of those fancy french macarons, but I'm kinda tired of seeing them everywhere!

Macaroons however, hold a place in my heart and yours look delicious!

I must be an American...LOL

Chele said...

They look fantastic and very yummy too. To be honest I felt the same way as you did about the fancy ones but a bit of 'masterful' thinking did me the power of good and I discovered they are actually much easier than everyone makes out. I bet once you make your first batch you'll be hooked and we'll be seeing loads of recipes from you ;0)

Katrina said...

I've never made the popular macaron's either! It seems like everyone in the food blogging community is. They're so pretty, but I haven't mustered up enough courage yet. So for now, I'll make your macaroons! They look super tasty :)

Stella said...

Hey Jane, you know I have lost any original interest I may have had at one point in macarons. I think it is all the hype too. I just see them too much. I probably shouldn't develop a prejudice though, as I have never had one...there are not a lot of bakeries making macarons here in Florida. Even the French avoid it with all the humidity!
This cookie looks so classic and delicious by the wat. I love how the texture of the cookie seems in your photos.

Helen said...

These look delicious. I would like to make the delicate macaroons too but am too scared! I need a whole day in the kitchen I think!

faithy said...

french macarons or not, these look just as yummy and pretty! I love how you sandwich them in chocolate...

Tanja said...

I just found your blog and I'm now a follower. I love the chocolate, it looks so shiny and delicious!

A Cake To Remember LLC said...

Coconut macaroon cookies are sooo good. They're good even without the chocolate, but that just pushes them over the edge!

Unknown said...

I've made the "Pretty Little French Things" in a Darings Bakers Challenge some time back and I think they aren't as difficult as some have said. Especially if you have a bit of baking experience as you have. I love the colours and flavours you can achieve with them. However in saying that, I'm even scared to say this but...I think they are a bit over rated! Yikes! Did I just say that? OK I did but I'm a coconut nut, if that's possible. I just think it adds moisture and flavour incomparable to anything. Your Macaroons are a cookie I would love to make. I know they will be popular. Thanks for the recipe!

HanaĆ¢ said...

These look yummy, Jane. Yesterday I saw a macaroon post where someone subbed finely ground almonds for the coconut. That certainly intrigued me since I can't eat coconut (allergies). Will have to give these a try. They certainly don't seem like they would take up a lot of time to make. You made them so pretty with the chocolate in between. Great job!!

I just got back from vacation. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving that wonderful comment (as you always do). I did tons of baking while on vacation and as soon as I'm over this jetlag I will have to do the same in my own kitchen :o) Talk to you soon! Take care my baking friend!!

the twins said...

these look fantastic! i never knew that those french colorful cookies existed until a few years ago, i thought macaroons were just the american ones we eat for passover =) the chocolate filling is such a great idea!

Unknown said...

These look really good, Jane. I've yet to try either kind of macarons, but they both have been on my list since forever! Love the little 'burgers'

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those sandwich cookies are wonderful! Very tempting... I'd love to eat one now!



~~louise~~ said...

Dear me, aren't they just delightful morsels of ecstasy! Simply heavenly, Jane.

I sure wouldn't mind having one or two about now either:)

Thanks for sharing...