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Sweet, citrusy, orange coconut macaroons dipped in dark chocolate for an everyday-is-a-special-day treat.
Since everyone else is posting chocolate coated everything for Valentine’s day, so I suppose I should get on the bandwagon. But because it’s me, it definitely isn’t going to be heart shaped!
I did actually make these for H (and sent them just in time for Valentine’s day), who is off in the middle of nowhere for a couple months. Since he’s lacking my cooking (and worse, I’ve been lacking someone who will eat all my random creations), I’ve been sending a few packages of treats. He really enjoys macaroons so I came up with a variant with orange zest.
Ok, I may have used mandarin zest in this batch, but it will work just as well if not better with orange. Mandarin can be a bit more subtle and acidic rather than the sweet citrus imparted by orange. But both work very well with coconut and chocolate. Just enjoy!
A Tiny Dash of Science
I haven’t added any science notes in a while, but anything where you whip egg whites is a perfect opportunity for some science discussion. At the core of it, you are creating an emulsion – combining the water in the egg white with air (which is in fact hydrophobic). An emulsion is the combining of a hydrophilic solution and a hydrophobic one, essentially oil and vinegar. This is why you have to add something like mustard to make vinaigrette stay in solution. You need an emulsifier.
The protein in the egg white acts as an emulsifier and stabilizes everything, keeping the air in the solution. The whipping denatures the proteins much in the same way cooking does (see the post about boiling the perfect egg), allowing the hydrophobic part to become exposed to the air and the hydrophilic portions of the protein to stay with the water instead of everything being all bunched up.
There are a couple things you can do to assist the egg white proteins in this task:
- Get the egg whites warm or at room temperature. Not hot as this would denature the proteins without adding air, but warm to facilitate the process when you start whipping. This will ultimately trap more air in the solution creating more volume.
- Add cream of tartar (tartaric acid). Acids denature protein, leading to more volume and stability.
- A metal bowl. Not plastic, not glass. The act of beating against the bowl liberates infinitesimal amounts of ionic material, which facilitates the protein denaturing – see above and all that.
- Make sure everything is perfectly clean. Absolutely no oil. Any amount of oil in your bowl or on the whisk will destabilize everything. You might as well turn it into an egg white omelet at that point.
So I am very odd, I actually prefer whipping egg whites and cream by hand rather than with the electric beaters. Fewer moving parts. Also, I get a better volume since I don’t have a whisk attachment on my electric mixer (it’s handheld, not a stand mixer). And hey, you get a workout before you eat whatever deliciousness you make.
- 3 egg whites
- 1 c/225g white sugar
- 3 c/300g unsweetened coconut flakes*
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbs/15g orange zest
- 6 oz/180g dark chocolate
- Candied citrus peel minced (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking pan with parchment or a silicon mat.
- Whip egg whites to soft peaks in a metal bowl.
- Slowly add sugar, a tbs full at a time so as not to deflate your hard won air bubbles. You can add a little faster towards the end.
- Fold salt, zest, and coconut flakes into the egg whites.
- Place lumps of batter in heaping tbs amounts on the baking sheet. You can put them pretty close together as they do not spread much.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden on top.
- Allow to cool on sheet for 5-10 minutes before trying to remove or you will lose the bottoms.
When completely cool:
- Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a simmering pan of water. If desired, temper according to the instructions linked in notes. This will help it last longer without blooming.
- Dip the bottoms of the macaroons in the chocolate (roll in candied citrus if desired) and set on parchment or silicon until dry.
- Store in an airtight container. Moisture is the enemy of these.