Palm trees, sand, crystal waters, straw hats & cocktails… in an ideal world this would be the my summer. British summertime however has been rather unforgiving this year (not entirely surprising), so us Brits find ourselves rushing outdoors, lighting the barbecue, stocking our fridges with ciders & donning shorts at the mere hint of any sunshine. In true keep calm & carry on nature though we whine, moan, accept defeat & look forward to wearing all things wool & sipping on warm beverages in autumn (then we’ll probably just moan about being too cold).
I can’t deny that this has had an effect on my baking this year as I haven’t produced as many seasonal, colourful or fruit filled products as usual. Instead, I’ve been sourcing the store cupboard for ideas.
One ingredient that I always have to hand is desiccated or shredded coconut. I adore coconut, place a Bounty in front of me & I can’t resist. I’m the person at Christmas time that polishes off the Celebrations tub, munching on all of the leftover little Bounties that are inevitably left until last as most of the family dislike them. Coconut is such a fresh, tropical flavour that easily evokes thoughts of warmer climates. This is very much a Marmite flavour however, you either love or hate it.
Whilst a raspberry & coconut cake remains ever popular & widely available, another irresistibly moreish treat that has sadly fallen slightly out of fashion is the humble macaroon (not to be confused with the fancier & more complicated french macaron). I remember seeing these retro treats in old cookbooks from era’s gone by, simpler times when popping a glace cherry on top would be the height of sophistication that could even rival a molded jelly, or hedgehog cake (remember those?) in the 1970’s & 80’s.
Nowadays we’re just as adventurous with our cooking & still have an appreciation of new flavours but I like to think that we have slightly more refined tastes & a better understanding of food (let’s just leave Aspic in the past). Some thing’s however, are too good to simply leave in the past & coconut macaroons are just that, a real retro winner. Ridiculously simple to make, incredibly moreish & perfect for afternoon tea, these delicious little pyramids keep incredibly well (if you have that kind of will power) & are great fun to entertain bored children over the dreary summer holidays. These are completely adaptable to suit your tastes, try replacing the cherries with chocolate drops or chopped nuts.
CHERRY & COCONUT MACAROONS
- 200g desiccated coconut
- 150g flaked coconut
- 100g glace cherries, chopped
- 397g condensed milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg whites
- 50g dark chocolate (to decorate)
- In a large clean bowl, whisk up the egg whites until stiff
- In a separate bowl, combine all of the other ingredients until it forms an almost paste like mixture
- Taking spoonfuls at a time, fold the whisked egg whites into the coconut mixture
- Line a large baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment
- Using two spoons (or an ice cream scoop to make easy work of it) carefully drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the sheet until you have 20
- Use the back of each spoon to mould the drops into small pyramids
- Bake the macaroons at 160°C for 25 minutes, until they just begin to turn golden add the edges
- Allow to cool full on the baking sheet
- Once cool, melt the chocolate either in a bowl over a low boiling saucepan of water or in the microwave & use the to drizzle over the tops of the macaroons