Coconut and I previously had a love-hate relationship. I LOVED the flavor and HATED the texture. Coconut jelly beans have always been my favorite flavor. Pina coladas are too tasty for words, but Italian cream cake, coconut cream pie, and Nanny's coconut cake were OFF the table because I just couldn't make myself ingest coconut meat. G.A.G. Chewing seemed to cause the pulp to expand, and it just would not go down the hatch. An occasional exception was toasted coconut, but it had to be freshly toasted and not soaked up any moisture to make it chewy again.
Then I got pregnant with Tot. A coworker brought a coconut pound cake to a potluck lunch, and it had the most amazing coconut glaze to drizzle over it. I got a TINY piece and LOVED it. The glaze tasted like melted coconut jelly beans. Her secret was to chop the coconut up very small prior to mixing it in the batter. I got her recipe and similarly chopped up the coconut quite small. Success. Ever since trying that cake, I have been tasting different coconut dishes with mixed results. As long as it's not too much coconut, and not TOO chewy, I can dig it. Italian cream cake and coconut cream pie are fabulous!! Unfortunately, I'll never be able to try out Nanny's coconut cake. I've heard others have come close, but none will ever match hers.
In NYC, I decided to try a macaroon because the display was just so pretty (at Russ &Daughters just down from Katz's Deli if you are in the area). This wasn't just any macaroon; it was a macaroon drizzled with salted caramel. Oh. My. Heavens. It was the first macaroon I had ever eaten and it set a high bar!
Since Christmas brought with it a new mixer for me, I have been thinking of all the things I have avoided making due to lack of a stand mixer. Macaroons were not on that list, but meringue cookies were. When I was trying to remember the name of meringue cookies, macaroons popped into my head. So, last night, I made both macaroons and meringues.
The meringues are good, but they don't hold a candle to the sweet, coconutty macaroons. I started with Bree's recipe at Baked Bree but tweaked it just a little due to availability and what I had on hand. According to all the mumbled praise from coworkers today between bites, these macaroons are a hit. I loved them. Tot willingly ate multiple bites, and MH said they are rich so he can "only eat two or three at a time". If I am judging correctly, "at a time" means "every time I'm in the kitchen".
2 14 oz bags flaked, sweetened coconut
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs sour cream
1 Tbs 2% milk (I didn't have cream)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F. Combine all ingredients except coconut in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix well, then gradually add the two bags of coconut, increasing the speed as necessary. I am sure this could also be done with a hand mixer pretty easily. Once well combined, use two teaspoons to scoop mounds of the mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between mounds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned, rotating and switching the trays halfway through baking. For reference, I made around 4 dozen macaroons.
If you're feeling fancy, drizzle a little melted chocolate over the tops, or dip them as Bree did. They are totally delicious without any adornment.
1/30/13: Corrected reference to Russ and Daughters and added link. I bought my own macaroon and should have bought many more!