It’s the week before Easter. I have these leftover egg whites and am trying to figure out how to use them up. I know! Coconut macaroons! And I’ll take them to work, so I don’t end up eating them all myself……
I take the precaution of polling my coworkers to make sure they like coconut macaroons. One coworker reveals that coconut doesn’t always agree with him. Studying the recipe, I realize that if you leave out the coconut, what you have is basically meringue. And meringue should be stiff enough to put through a cake decorating tip. Those fancy-schmancy chefs do that sort of thing all the time.
Then, from somewhere in the distant past, comes a memory of coconut nests tinted green and with jellybean eggs. We must have made them sometime during my childhood. So I add “jellybeans” to my shopping list. But then I discover that, it being nearly Easter, the M&Ms people are selling M&Ms that look like speckled eggs. Even better!
Note that this recipe calls for you to beat “till stiff”. I thought at first that it said “till stiff peaks”. After several minutes of beating, it still was not forming what I would call stiff peaks. It was stiffer than it had been, though. Finally I gave up and moved to the next step, which was to put some into a decorating bag with a star tip, and pipe circles that were higher at the edges. The meringue was a good consistency for this, and these cookies turned out just fine. So, if you don’t get stiff peaks, don’t worry.
I wasn’t sure whether to add the eggs to the nests before baking, or after. So I tried both. If you add them before baking, they tend to crack, and the shell color bleeds a little. If you add them right after baking, you avoid these problems, but then you have to break the crust of the cookie to get the eggs on. I decided that the latter alternative was preferable.
I put a bunch of these in a cookie tin and took them to work, where they were well-received. A problem developed after a couple of days, though. The nests started to get really crumbly. I suspect that the tin was holding in too much moisture. A coworker pointed out that this is a good way to determine whether your kids have been sneaking cookies: the crumbs will give them away….Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper!
(source: the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, with modifications)
Note: the cookies at the bottom and lower right in the picture are coconut-free. Thanks to my friend and coworker, known in the blogosphere as "Biobabe", for loaning me her digital camera.
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Food coloring, if desired
1 1/3 cups ( one 3 ½ oz. can) flaked coconut
Beat egg whites with dash salt and the vanilla till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff. Beat in food coloring, if desired. Fold in coconut.
Drop by rounded teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325° about 20 minutes. Just after removing from the oven, add candy eggs. Makes about 1 ½ dozen.
Coconut-free variation: Omit the coconut. Drop batter onto cookie sheet with a spoon, or use a cake decorating bag and tip to make circles.
Recycle: vanilla bottle, coconut can