Category Archives: chocolate

Coconut Macaroons

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I may have a new favorite cookie. (Well, okay, chocolate chip oatmeal pecan are pretty much always going to take the cake (so to speak)… but these are damn good).

The pros: Super fast to make (30 min?), gluten-free, dairy-free, pairs excellently with chocolate, good as dessert on their own or as an accompaniment to something else, could conceivably be eaten for breakfast, if you also have an orange or something…

The cons: Some people don’t like coconut? And coconut doesn’t grow in Maine yet, so… not local.

I tend to not like anything terribly sweet, so when my mother and I were playing around with these at Christmas (she’s always been my baking partner, even when we don’t live near each other anymore) we decided to mix unsweetened and sweetened coconut. It has the added benefit of changing up the texture a little.

I keep egg whites in the freezer, from whenever I use only the yolks (custard, hollandaise, molten lava cakes, etc), and can then just pull them out and defrost them before using. If you don’t have them on hand, I’ve heard you can freeze the unused yolks (never needed to try it first hand, though), or you could just whip up a quick batch of pudding—and actually these would be fabulous dipped in caramel pudding.

On another note, I try to keep up a bit on countries I’ve traveled to, and there is quite a bit of interest in Denmark’s food system, from cutting food waste to antibiotic use in animal raising. They also just opened the first food waste supermarket, to try to do even more to combat the problem.

And, if you are following the debates (as you should be—especially you single women out there, we’ve got lots of political power!), you may be curious about the candidates’ positions on food and farming. I don’t know much about the R side, if they even have thought about food (not that anyone seems to have a chance to discuss actual policy in those debates), but here’s a little about Sanders vs. Clinton.

Coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 oz chocolate, if desired (highly recommended)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Defrost egg whites, if using from the freezer. Otherwise, separate eggs, putting the whites in a large bowl and saving the yolks for another venture.

Toast the coconut (not required, but improves flavor). Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 350ºF or so until just golden (it goes quickly once it starts turning, so watch carefully), about 5 minutes. Turn with a spatula halfway through. Cool.

Mix together egg whites and sugar until frothy. Stir in cooled coconut (you don’t want to cook the egg whites prematurely) and vanilla.

Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls with your hands and place on cookie sheet. They won’t spread out at all, so they can be closer together than other cookies—but do give them a couple inches in between balls for air flow, or they won’t get as evenly golden.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until evenly golden and crispy on the outside. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

When cookies are at least mostly cool, melt chocolate in the microwave or double boiler. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons in melted chocolate, then balance upside down on the cooling rack to cool. The chocolate will take a while to solidify completely (you can definitely eat them in the meantime, it’ll just be a little messy).

Excellent as trail nibbles on a late winter (early spring…?) hike.

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Chocolate Rum Raisin Bread Pudding

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CHOCOLATE EVERYWHERE. That is the Internet this week. Complain not I, and far be it from me to snub such a worthy tradition. Enhanced with liquor and buckets of delicious fat, no less.

You can even make your own chocolate. I have not embarked on that particular mission yet, and I’m not sure that I will. Seems like a lot of time/effort/cost for something that is an international product anyway. Maybe if cacao starts growing wherever I am.

Not one of my typical vegetable semi-healthy (I’m going to be honest, I’m not a health fanatic or a vegetarian, I just like veggies. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those two categories of being) recipe here, folks. It’s mid-February and you need to indulge your sensibilities.

So, bread pudding. The beauty of this is that it makes use of old bread, in case you forgot to freeze half that loaf you made last week, or someone came by and left you extra bread from something that you couldn’t eat fast enough. Or, you could buy a loaf expressly for this purpose, cut it into chunks, and watch impatiently as it dries out enough to soak in eggs and cream and turn magically into rich, delicious custard smothered in deep chocolate (you don’t actually have to wait impatiently. You can just toast them in the oven. But, I’ve heard that pleasure comes more from anticipation anyway, so may as well take the time).

People sometimes ask me, “Are you a cook or a baker?” Like many other areas of my life, I have yet to figure this out, and shall continue to (naïvely?) ask, “Can’t I be both?” I have been getting more and more into cooking recently (evidently), but I got my start in baking. And there is something magical about the way something can transform fantastically in a hot oven.

There are many things you can do with stale bread. But this is the best, because it is chocolate. And not just chocolate, a deep, rich, thick, creamy, dark, warm, soft chocolate. I want more, now.

Recipe from NPR. I have explored a number and this is the greatest.

Chocolate Rum Raisin Bread Pudding
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 (+...)cup dark rum
Butter for pan
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 eggs, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, or more chopped chocolate
1 stale 10-ounce baguette (or whatever, although I'd avoid super seedy bread), cut roughly in 1/2-1 inch size chunks

Pour rum over raisins in a small bowl and set aside for a while (side note: this is a great trick for, well, everything. Best oatmeal raisin cookies EVER). Butter a 9×13 baking dish (size doesn’t matter as much here, unlike items like cakes, so use what you have, it will somehow fit. If you have extra you can always cook mini puddings in muffin tins or little bowls).

Heat up milk and cream together until quite hot (microwave or stove, your preference). Add chocolate (or pour over chocolate—I tend to heat up the milk in a Pyrex measuring cup and put the chocolate in a bowl; that way I only have a couple dishes to wash), let sit for a minute or so, then stir so chocolate is melted. Mix in eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and stir quickly (make sure the mixture is not hot enough to cook the eggs—you don’t want them to curdle—and stir immediately. If you are worried, mix eggs, sugar, etc. separately first). Stir in raisins and rum and chocolate chunks.

Place bread chunks in pan, and pour the mixture over top, trying to get as much contact with the bread as possible. Let sit for a while (at least an hour), squishing it down every now and again so that all the bread gets soaked. It will expand considerably. I also moved it around a bit to try to get an even distribution of chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 325ºF, and when both oven and bread are ready, bake for 45 min-1 hour, until custard is more or less set and the top is crispy. A knife inserted in the pudding should come out streaky but not liquidy. Serve warm, with whipped cream (spiked with rum), if desired. When you eat leftovers, I recommend warming it up (microwave is fine) and dousing with rum before consuming.

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On an entirely unrelated note, don’t make these mistakes with cheese!