What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Comfort cookies to warm your home
February 12, 2014
Say hello to wintertime coconut macaroons. These sweet cookies are derived from Europe, most likely Italy. Meet a light, pretty cookie with a sweet almond taste. Egg whites and coconut flakes — a lot — are part of the mound. Most recipes do not call for flour, but I chose to do it (I give credit to the Sierra altitude). Different countries use different ingredients from lemon rind to cashews, but I chose to give my cookies an old-fashioned taste. This classic cookie calls for fewer ingredients.
Several years ago, in between writing books, I took a job on the South Shore. I was tagged a copy writer. My tasks included writing listings for a luxury real estate company. One cold, winter day a Realtor invited me to join her to look at a multi-million home in on the Nevada side. Once inside the dwelling I was awestruck. I mumbled, "It's so warm." The house seller replied, "Yes, the décor is marvelous." She was spot-on, but I meant the heated floors were inviting. Not to forget the gourmet kitchen adjoining a living room boasting a panoramic view of the lake — a memorable feast for my eyes, with tribute to Ernest Hemingway, who got sensory details from head to feet.
On the way home, I stopped and purchased ready-made coconut macaroons (the over-sized kind with half dipped in dark chocolate). These cookies comforted me in my rustic cabin amid trees — no lake view. Nowadays I know how to create a comfort zone. Swimming at a pool and savoring hot tub time in the winter to making a crackling fire in the old Tahoe fireplace warms the body and soul. Also, cuddling up with my furry warmhearted companion animals — and baking a batch of coconut macaroons helps to give my rustic cabin a warm and fuzzy vibe.
Callie's Comfort Coconut Macaroons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 capful each almond extract and pure vanilla extract
4 1/2-5 cups sweetened coconut, premium
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon orange rind (optional)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or bar pieces
Confectioners' sugar (for dusting) (optional)
In a large bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, sugar, salt, milk, extracts and coconut. Set aside. In a mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in coconut mixture. Add orange rind. Use 1/3 cup ice cream scoop or 1 teaspoon (shaped like a cone or pyramid), and place cookie dough on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Remove immediately. Cool and dip bottoms in melted chocolate and/or dust some with confectioners' sugar. Makes about three dozen cookies; depending on size. Store in airtight container and put in fridge or freezer. These adorable cookies are best warm fresh out of the oven. Caveat: Savor in moderation due to its sugar and saturated fat.
Once I placed each cookie on the sheet, I sensed this recipe was a keeper. I peeked in the oven after five minutes and the macaroons had not spread. Perfection. By 12 minutes, give or take a few, the coconut got picture-perfect toasty and still kept its perfect shape. Removing the cookies from the cookie sheet was a snap — no sticking. And the first bite was heaven: crispy on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside. These macaroons are ideal for February — the romantic Valentine's Day month, especially with dark chocolate on the bottom or swirled. I used my own measurements and fine ingredients and ignored umpteen recipes (some called for too much condensed milk, no flour or too much sugar or not enough coconut) for coconut macaroons. The end result: A sweet cookie to warm your home where the heart is.
Motto: Mix it up. Change recipes by following your sixth sense. You may be pleasantly surprised.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.