In my ongoing quest to find tasty, kid-friendly food appropriate for the whole family, this week I chose a delicious dessert macaroon. I found the recipe in "The Macaroon Bible," by Dan Cohen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99).
Red Velvet Macaroons
- 1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3?4 teaspoon red food coloring
- 1?4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 drops of blue food coloring
- 2 large egg whites
- 1?4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (14-ounce) bag sweetened shredded coconut
For cream cheese frosting and topping:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (1?2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1?2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (see note below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. In an extra-large bowl, measure out 10 1?2 ounces by weight of the condensed milk. If you don’t have a scale, use about 8 ounces (1 cup) by liquid measure. Add the cocoa powder, 1?4 teaspoon of the red food coloring, the vanilla, and blue food coloring and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.
3. Add the egg whites and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (or small bowl if you’re using a hand beater) and whip on medium-high until very stiff peaks form, 2 1?2 to 3 minutes.
4. Empty the coconut into a gallon-size zip-top bag and add the remaining 1?2 teaspoon red food coloring. Seal the bag and shake vigorously until the color is fully absorbed by the coconut, then add the coconut to the condensed milk mixture and mix until fully combined. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the coconut mixture. After it’s combined, push the mixture into one big blob to make it easier for you to portion out the macaroons.
5. Dip 2 spoons into a small bowl of water, shake them off, form the mixture into balls about 1 1?2 inches in diameter, and place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. (You can also form them by hand, but be sure to wet your fingers frequently.)
6. Place the sheet into the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. After about 22 minutes, start checking for coloring. Look for an even, light golden color and for the undersides to be nicely tanned.
7. Remove from the oven and let the sheet rest on a cooling rack, leaving the macaroons on the sheet until they’re cool enough for you to pull off (about 2 minutes depending on how sensitive your fingers are). Transfer the macaroons to the cooling rack to let cool completely.
8. While the macaroons are cooling, prepare your frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a small bowl if using a hand mixer), beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if the mixture creeps up or sticks. Add the vanilla and then, gradually and on low speed, the confectioners' sugar until fully incorporated. Feel free to taste the mixture along the way and adjust the sugar until it’s as sweet as you’d like. Then increase the speed to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
9. When the macaroons are cool, add the topping to each one using a butter knife or, if you have one, an icing or frosting spatula. After the macaroons are frosted, sprinkle the pecans on top -- you may have to push the pecans into the icing. If you’re going to store these, it’s best to keep the frosting stored separately in an airtight container in the fridge and frost your macaroons when you want to eat them. The icing will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 week. Store the macaroons in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
Note: To toast the pecans, place the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and place into a preheated 300°F oven for 25 minutes or until the pecans take on deeper coloring and are somewhat fragrant, giving them a shake and a stir halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as the publisher, recipes from The Macaroon Bible by Dan Cohen. Photographs by Alice Gao. Copyright 2013.