15 February 2011

The Coconut Macaroons that Turned into Mexican Wedding Cookies: A Sad Tale with a Happy Ending

Mexican Wedding Cookies

*** This story is also known as, A Mexican Wedding Cookie in Shining Armor.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a young girl awoke, excited to bake some cookies for her Valentine. She'd had so much fun baking the day before, that she leapt from bed, anxious to taste the next sweet for her sweet.

She searched her favorite blogs for a recipe with few steps and ingredients, and started to follow Chocolate and Zucchini's recipe for coconut macaroons. It seemed simple and came from a French source. Things looked good -- she'd have time to bake and blog, and maybe even a head start on tomorrow's cookies!

Then the trouble started. She had reduced fat finely shredded coconut instead of the full fat coconut flakes the recipe called for. The difference seemed like no big deal, but the shredded coconut absorbed too much liquid. She even doubled the eggs, but the cookies still emerged dry and flavorless -- there was just too much dry, skinny coconut in her mouth.

Add to this disappointment the excessively dense texture that emerged from endeavoring to form the pretty little pyramids Clotilde had encouraged. The macaroons didn't show even a glimmer of the chewy levity or springiness she appreciated in a macaroon.

Her next attempt was David Lebovitz's coconut macaroon recipe. It required a few more ingredients and a couple extra steps, but Lebovitz noted that various types of coconut would work in his recipe. Thus bolstered with the certainty that she could avoid repeating her first coconut macaroon disaster, she forged ahead, recalling the admonition to whistle while she worked.

At first, all went according to plan and she succeeded in creating a perfectly gooey dough. She felt optimistic. The next step was to allow the cookies to cool to room temperature. Shouldn't be a problem, she mused, but got busy chasing butterflies, talking to the sparrows and doing other things (including a failed attempt to combine recipes for almond and coconut macaroon recipes from -- we won't even go there!), that by the time she returned to the Lebovitz recipe, excited to turn her cookie dream into a reality, the mixture had completely dried out. None of these problems were either recipes' fault, but on that day, macaroons were just not happening for her.

Now, with most of her magical day gone, where to turn? Her favorite cookie was chocolate chip. And the best chocolate chip cookie she'd ever had was from a Williams-Sonoma recipe. When faced with these cookies, the usual control she maintained in the face of a plate of sweets completely escaped her. It was difficult for her to eat only half a dozen in a day! So she turned to the Williams-Sonoma cookie elves and discovered treasure: a straightforward recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Sadly, after three batches of disappointing cookies, she felt a bit lazy, so simplified where possible. She didn't have quite enough almonds (which she refused to blanch), so supplemented with pecans. To add a little nutritional value to her sugar-laden Week of Cookies, she used whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose. She also halved the recipe to save time. Other than that she just followed the recipe and things worked like a breeze.

She was greeted with the sweet smell of cinnamon and toasted nuts when she opened the oven door. She nibbled on one of the cookies before rolling it in powdered sugar -- it was delicious! So buttery it melted in her mouth. The nuts created a pleasant crunch and the 1-2 tablespoons of pecans added a bitter hint that perfectly complimented the overall sweetness of the cookie. At last her day was saved -- Mexican wedding cookies to the rescue!

The End 

Click here for Williams-Sonoma Mexican Wedding Cookies recipe

Have you had success making coconut macaroons? What's your favorite recipe?

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