It’s Christmas Eve. I’m with my family in a cozy log cabin in Mazama, Washington where the treetops glisten! Really, they do. We spent the day cross-country skiing in 18 degree sunshine.
Now Pom’s fixing dinner, Ellie’s reading the trial transcript for her Alabama death penalty case, Henny’s reading, and me? I’m Happelsaucing. Obviously.
Macaroons and Mexican Wedding Cookies. Together on a platter they are the very picture of Christmas. They look like snow. Elegant, edible morsels of snow. Please close your eyes and envision them now because I just realized that the photos I took are still in San Francisco. Dang. I promise to post them later. (Update! It’s January 26th and I’m making good on my promise. Photos, glorious photos!)
It turns out that Mexican Wedding Cookies and the Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons have more in common than one might think: Both cookies resemble snow – in the form of a powdered sugar coating and shredded coconut respectively, both contain less than eight ingredients, both are easy to make, and both taste wonderful but in completely different ways. And I think it’s their differences that make them so delicious together. After all, isn’t that what the holiday spirit is all about?
The Mexican Wedding Cookies are nuttybutterybombs – they have a shortbread-like consistency, rich and subtly sweet .
On the flip side, the Macaroons are lightsweetchewymorsels – miniature coconut islands resting in pools of dark chocolate. (They require 4 egg whites, so they’re the perfect cookie to bake after whipping up a batch of Tiger’s Swedish Pancakes or another recipe that calls for egg yolks.)
Place one of each cookie on your holiday cocktail napkin and indulge. They’re worth every bite, down to the last crumb.
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
From Room for Dessert, by David Lebovitz
Makes About 30 Cookies
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I like Guittard bittersweet chocolate chips)
- In a large pan, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour.
- Stir constantly on medium-low heat, scraping the bottom as you stir.
- When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature. (At this point, the mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)
- When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Form the dough into 1½-inch mounds (sticky fingers!) and evenly space on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool completely.
To dip the macaroons in chocolate:
- Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave.)
- Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
- Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the baking sheet.
- Leave untouched for a half hour or refrigerate 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate is set.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
From The Joy of Baking, By Stephanie Jaworski
Makes About 2 Dozen Cookies
2/3 cup toasted pecans (Walnuts or hazelnuts will work too, really it’s whatever nut you prefer.)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
For Sugar Coating: 1 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Toast Nuts: Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Cool.
- Once the nuts have cooled completely place them, along with 2 tablespoons of the flour from the recipe, into your food processor and process until they are finely ground (but not a paste). Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Add the remaining flour and salt and beat until combined.
- Stir in the nuts.
- Cover and refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour or until firm.
- Form the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown.
- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.
- While the cookies are cooling, sprinkle about one cup of powdered sugar onto a tray lined with parchment paper.
- Place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Very gently (so the cookies don’t crumble) roll the cookies in the sugar to coat.