I don't think I have ever baked with coconut before. I don't know what posessed me to buy a bag of shredded coconut at the supermarket the other day. I am sure I had probably read a post somewhere on a blog, so I blame one of you for sending me subliminal messages to "buy coconut", but for the life of me I don't remember that recipe.
I like coconut as much as the next person. I have childhood memories of coconut that take me back to tropical beaches. My dad used to buy me virgin Pina Coladas when we spent Christmas together in the Carribean. I remember drinking coconut water out of the fruit in a little fishing boat in an atoll in the Indian Ocean. The fisherman then cracked it open and showed me how to scrape out the still-tender pulp. Coconut reminds me of disco days in the '80s and Batida de Coco (no, I am not that old, there is simply no drinking age in Italy). It reminds me of boarding school. There was a glass-panelled room equipped with vending machines where students were allowed to smoke. It was freezing, but we spent many an afternoon looking out onto the snow-capped mountains, chatting about boys and sharing a cigarette between five of us, nibbling on Bounty bars.
Nowadays my coconut consumption usually involves curries and soups and we always have some coconut milk stashed away in our cupboards. But what to do with shredded, dry coconut? I started looking for recipes and was all too excited to find out that you needed condensed milk to make coconut macaroons. I had had an open jar in my fridge for ages (I don't remember what I used that for either of course) and couldn't get myself to either dispose of it or use it. I mean, with the insanely high sugar content, it couldn't really go bad right? That is why it is used during wars and in hot climates, no?
When I realized my coconut/condensed milk ratio was exactly right, I knew I had to make these. I could even finally use up some of the egg whites
that piss me off every time I see them in my freezer because I never use them and they take up precious space I had so diligently stored in my freezer! I threw together the few ingredients required, felt pretty darn good about myself and my efforts to avoid waste, and made these little treats that help you forget you are in the middle of a wet winter with every bite.
Adapted from Montcarte, original recipe Ina Garten
200gr (about 7 oz.) shredded coconut (I did not use the sweetened kind as suggested by the recipe)
200gr (about 7oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 or 3 egg whites (depending on size) at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
a splash of milk
Preheat your oven to 325°F/160°C. Combine the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla in a bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in another bowl until they make medium-firm peaks, then carefully fold them into the coconut mixture. Let the mixture chill in your fridge for a little while you clean up (many people seem to have had problems with the mixture turning runny in the oven. I did not, so maybe this tip helped). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spoon the batter on the sheet using two spoons or your hands (my mixture was dense enough to do this). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and then let cool on a cookie rack. I took mine out a little earlier because they were turning a little too dark, especially on the bottom. As always, my suggestion is to keep your eye on them. While they are baking melt about 1/2 a cup of semi sweet chocolate. The recipe suggested using a few tbsp of heavy cream, but I used a splash of milk instead. Dip the bottom of the cooled cookies in the chocolate and let it cool. It takes a while, a lot longer than I expected it to, so be patient.
Note to self: use three egg whites instead of two and perhaps a touch more condensed milk. The macaroons I made where sweet and chewy, but I wouldn't have minded more moistness/fluffiness (what else is new?).