Baking, Cooking & Eating, Holidays, etc.

Chocolate Macaroon Fail!

I think that I wanted it too much. That was the problem. Passover is coming, it’s my favorite holiday of the year, and what better way to celebrate here at Twice Cooked than with chocolate coconut macaroons. Parve, kosher for Passover, chocolate coconut macaroons.

But alas. I suppose that it wasn’t to be.

Here’s the story: a while ago, I got a macaroon recipe from my mother. You have to try this, she told me. I’ve made these a few times, now — and people love it. They won’t leave me alone about them. They want me to make them again and again.

Well. I took the recipe and thanked my mother profusely. But upon closer inspection, these weren’t the macaroons I was looking for. Not quite. They were made with condensed milk, which gives me a little bit of an instinctive shudder. And worse, they called for the sweetened variety, along with sweetened shredded coconut.

I’m not trying to be snobby here, but really? Milk from a can? And really, really? A recipe where I have no control over the sweetness?

No, no. This wouldn’t due at all. So when I finally got around to making some macaroons of my own, I decided that I’d sub out the goopy milk-from-a-can for some (less bile-inducing) unsweetened coconut milk. I decided that I’d go out and find myself some organic pinky-in-the-air shredded coconut. And I decided that I’d control my own level of sweetness (thank-you-very-much!).

The result, I figured, had to be better. And as an added bonus — not for me, but for you guys at home who keep kosher — the result would be parve.

So I did some experimenting; I put the recipe together; I folded in my egg whites; and things looked like they were going great. Except for one thing — in my enthusiasm, I made the cookies so big that they’d never cook in the middle by the time the outside was done. And except for another thing — in my carelessness, I neglected to put down parchment.

The result was kind of a disaster. Macaroons that looked nice, but that fell apart when handled. Macaroons that had to be handled quite a lot, actually, considering that they were stuck to my lovely, lovely sheet pan.

So — macaroon crumblies. So — back to the drawing board. Same recipe, second try. This time, I used a different brand of coconut milk; I made a slightly smaller batch; I decided I was going to try to pipe them (ugh!); and things did not go well. The dough came out wetter than the first time. The coconut bits got stuck in my pastry tip. The spooned macaroons (I switched to plan B) were still slightly too big. And (oh, woe!) the macaroons spread like crazy when I baked them.

There must be a lesson here, folks. There must be a lesson, because there sure isn’t a recipe that I can share. But unfortunately, I don’t think I know what that lesson is. Perhaps: always listen to your mother? Perhaps: always add more coconut if things look too wet?

In all seriousness, I wonder if the best lesson can’t be summed up in the words of the venerable The Daodejing:

Everyone in the world knows that when the beautiful strives to be beautiful, it is repulsive.
Everyone knows that when the good strives to be good, it is no good.

This is why sages abide in the business of nonaction,
and practice the teaching that is without words.

I did too much, in other words. And bad macaroons are the price of hubris.

* From The Daodejing of Laozi translated by Philip J. Ivanhoe (2002).