I first tasted these chocolate-dipped macaroons when a co-worker brought them into the office, and I was hooked from the first bite. Although always a fan of everything coconut, these macaroons taste SO fresh and light that any store-bought variety pales in comparison.
Straight from The Mensch Chef, author Mitchell Davis points out that coconut naturally has "a tender texture and buttery taste that people often mistake for butter in the recipe...there isn't any, so the joke is on them." Sweetened simply with sugar, egg whites and vanilla, these bite-sized treats are bursting with flavor and calorie-controlled by their mini nature.
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) sweetened, flaked coconut
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
4 ounces bittersweet or white chocolate, coarsely chopped
Parchment paper or silicone mat
Directions: (Don't be daunted by the lengthiness, the preparation is very simple this is just extremely detailed!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and grease it lightly with butter or peanut oil. In a small mixing bowl, combine the coconut, egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt, and stir to mix well. To shape the cookies, dip your fingers in a bowl of cold water. Grab about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the coconut mixture and shape it into a mound on the cookie sheet. Space the mounds out evenly on the sheet. The macaroons won't spread while they cook, but if they are too close they won't brown evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the coconut has begun to brown on top and the bottoms are an even, golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes on the pan.
Line a clean cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the macaroons are completely cool, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water, or in the microwave. Be careful not to get any moisture into the chocolate, particulary from the condensation of steam. Stir the melted chocolate until smooth. Holding the macaroons on one side, dip half into the melted chocolate. Place the dipped macaroons on the parchment paper and continue until all are half dipped.
Place the macaroons in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to harden the chocolate, and then transfer them to an airtight container to store.
Coconut: all saturated fats are not created equal
Multiple studies reveal that Pacific Island populations who get 30-60 percent of their total caloric intake from fully saturated coconut oil have nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease. How can this be? The answer: not all saturated fats are created equal, and coconut takes the cake (pun intended) on healthy saturated fat.
So how does it work? Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is the natural compound lauric acid, which your body organically converts into monolaurin for anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Furthermore, coconut oil's medium-chain fatty acids use their small size to their advantage to be easily digested and immediately burned. In contrast, the long-chain fatty acids in common vegetable or seed oils are difficult to break down and thus mostly stored as fat.
In turn, this process produces a number of profound health benefits, including improvement in heart health, thyroid,and the immune system, plus increased metabolism and weight loss properties.
Davis, Mitchell. "Desserts, Sweets, and Breakfast." The Mensch Chef. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2002. 154-55. Print.
Mercola, Joseph. "Coconut Oil Benefits: When Fat Is Good For You." Huffpost Health. The Huffington Post, 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html>.