I like a good food trend as much as the next person– I have eaten more than my fair share of cupcakes, and I think food trucks are the best thing since the invention of the drive-thru– but the recent frenzy over macarons just has me stumped. Macarons are not to be confused with macaroons, which I’m showing you here; rather, they’re the tiny French cookie sandwiches that come in an array of flavors and Easter-egg hues. Not only are they popping up in bakeries everywhere, but images of macarons grace greeting cards, calendars, tea towels… one of my favorite shops even carries little pill-boxes that look like macarons. I will give you this: macarons are adorable. But once I have one in my hand, and in my mouth, the appeal is lost for me. I sat down in a cozy cafe last night with a latte and an itsy-bitsy, grass-green pistachio macaron; I bit into the macaron and tasted nothing so much as faintly nutty air. And then I looked at my receipt and realized that my two bites of air had cost me two dollars. I’m flummoxed.
While I was polishing off my coffee, two girls at the table next to me were ooooh-ing and ahhh-ing over a plate of many-colored macarons, and I overheard them calling them “macaroons.” And I think that really gets to the heart of my frustration with the macaron craze. I am something of a grammar and usage stickler (though I’ll be the first to admit that my use of punctuation is a bit… shall we say… free-spirited), so it makes me twitchy when words and names are used incorrectly– especially food names. And when people look at a macaron and think they’re seeing a macaroon, it’s like the actual macaroon is just fading into obscurity, never to be recognized for the goodness that it is. Besides, I think macaroons are far more delicious than macarons; they are closely related, in that they’re both meringue-based cookies, but macaroons are heartier, less frilly, and no doubt easier to make. The fact that they’re packed with coconut doesn’t hurt, either.
The recipe for a basic macaroon consists of only five ingredients: eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and coconut. There are many possible variations to the basic recipe; you can add spices, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or pretty much anything you’d add to any other cookie. Today I chose cocoa powder.
What you’re making here isn’t so much a batter; it’s just a big bowl of coconut lightly coated with chocolate. It’s nice and loose.
Take the batter and drop it by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a sheet pan lined with parchment. The parchment is especially important for these cookies since the batter is so sticky and messy.
In the oven, the macaroons rise a tiny bit, but mostly they just get deliciously crispy.
At this point, the macaroons are already delicious– crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with a brownie-like fudgy flavor. But a drizzle of white chocolate shoves them right over the delicious edge. All you need is a handful of white chocolate chips; melt them in the microwave, then sling the melted chocolate all over the cookies. (It’s like splatter painting for grownups.)
So, while these cookies may not be cutely symmetrical and pastel-colored, I hope you’ll agree that they’re worth your time. If macaroons become the next big trend… well, you heard it here first, y’all!
Chocolate Macaroons with White Chocolate Drizzle
adapted from The Splendid Table
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder. Stir in coconut until it is fully incorporated.
Drop the batter by the Tablespoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the macaroons are just turning crisp. Allow to cool.
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate chips for about one minute, stirring after each 15 seconds. When it is fully melted, use the tines of a fork to drizzle it over the cooled macaroons.