Desserts, Recipes

What to do With Egg Whites?

For our last gourmet gathering my task was dessert, a delicious pumpkin pots de creme. Topped with cream whipped with bourbon and maple syrup it was like eating pumpkin pie without the crust.  In fact, I liked it better than pumpkin pie because it was lighter.

Left from the effort were eight egg whites.  I never know what to do with them and if it’s just one or two I usually throw them out.  With so many, I knew there must be a good way to use them, and it occurred to me that coconut macaroons, the hubby’s favorite cookie, might be an option.

On the internet were more recipes than I could believe.  There were ones made with condensed milk.  There were vegan macaroons and gluten free ones.  There were recipes with craisins and sprinkles and pineapple and on and on. Finally, I settled on David Lebowitz’s recipe simply because it used the most egg whites and the baked cookies were dipped in chocolate.  How can you beat that combination?  Additionally, he said that it was one of the favorite recipes in his book Ready For Dessert

Coconut Macaroons 

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 cups (200g) unsweetened shredded coconut (see note)
1/4 cup (35g) flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 ounces (55g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1. In a large skillet or wide saucepan, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, and honey.
2. Over low heat on the stovetop, stir the egg whites and sugar together until the mixture is tepid, but not warm or hot. You don’t want to cook them; just warmed slightly so they are looser.
3. Add the coconut, flour, and vanilla. Continue to stir the mixture over medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens to a cohesive mass. (It’ll be like very thick oatmeal and the bottom will very slightly start to scorch.) Remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
4. When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking matand preheat the oven to 350º F (180ºC).
5. Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch (4cm) rounds in your hands, squeezing the dough to coax them into rough rounds (remember, the French call them “rocks,” so they can be a uneven – for smoother rounds, dampen your hands), then place them evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake the macaroons until deep golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
6. 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 or parchment paper. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the baking sheet. Refrigerate 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate is set.

Notes: Unsweetened shredded coconut is available in most natural food shops or you can purchase it online. Flaked coconut is larger and I haven’t tried these macaroons with the flakes but if that’s all you have, I would pulse the flakes in a food processor a few times until they’re finely shredded.

Storage: The baked macaroons will keep for up to three or four days if stored in an airtight container. If dipped in chocolate, store the cookies in a cool place. The dough can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for at least two months.

Making them I did learn a thing or two.  

  1.  It really is important to keep your hands wet otherwise the sticky mixture won’t roll.  Next time I might try using an ice cream scoop and see if that is easier.
  2. Be careful not to overcook.  My first batch was a little too brown which made the macaroon overly chewy.
  3. Semisweet chocolate chips melted in the microwave work great and don’t mess up as many pans.
  4.  Let the macaroons cool just a bit before dipping them in chocolate to avoid burning your fingers and squishing the cookie.
Without question, macaroons will appear here more often as they are not hard to make and they disappear very quickly!
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind
Travel

Impressions and Tidbits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 7 days it is not possible to experience all that Sicily has to offer, but we did get a good taste of the southern part with visits to Modica, Siricusa, Ragusa, Ragusa Ibla and Scicli plus a few other spots.  While none have very large populations, all have tightly packed residential and business areas.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASicily is largely agricultural, fascinating considering the rocky terrain.  Clearing the land must require back breaking labor and  what happens to all those rocks?   It appears that most become dry stone walls which mark plots of land and define boundaries.

img_8240Not all crops are out in the open.  There are literally thousands of green houses dotting the landscape which I suppose allow year round farming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout question there is a lot of food emphasis in Sicily, and I loved the combination of flavors in dishes like arancini.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFood goes beyond what is eaten.  According to our guide, food references are common to every day language.  For example, being told you look like mozzarella means you have a very white body.  Being compared to ricotta implies no muscle tone.  A nice person is said to be sweet as honey and straight, glossy hair is like spaghetti.  Are you getting the drift?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA real delight was learning that Sicily is known for cannoli, one of my very favorite sweets.  I made it a point to have at least one each day and justified it by telling myself that I was walking it off!   Can I tell you how good cannoli is when the shells are fresh made and filled with creamy homemade ricotta.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother find is Modica’s chocolate made in the Aztec tradition dating back hundreds of years. It has a somewhat grainy texture and is not as sweet as most chocolate. The bars are said to be good not only for eating but perfect for delicious hot chocolate made thick by adding a dab of cornstarch.  Hopefully, my chocolate will last long enough for me to try it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA special treat at the chocolate maker was trying traditional mpanatigghi biscuits filled with chocolate made from carob.  The  prickly pear was a tasty complement that required special skill to peel without puncturing a finger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASicily does not appear to be as noted for art and architecture as say Tuscany or Rome, but it has its own unique character and flavor.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is much to enjoy and for sure, no visit would be complete without a stroll along one of its beautiful beaches.

In a nutshell, these are some impressions and tidbits of Sicily.  Next, I will share the important part of a Foodie Adventure, time in the kitchen.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments  you leave behind

Food, Random, Travel

Foodie Adventure 3: Other Things

Can you tell this is an organic pig?
Can you tell this is an organic pig?

Yes, Foodie Adventures are about cooking and eating, but there’re other things, too.  In Catalonia, it was a visit to an organic pig farm

dairy farmand a dairy farm where cows produce enough milk for more than a million cartons of yogurt to be  produced each week.

cheeseA visit to a cheese maker required being covered  with plastic garb so as not to contaminate the production area. 

cheeseSeeing how some cheeses look during the ripening process makes you wonder how they can taste so good when finished.

chocolateYou can bet this chocolate factory was a favorite stop.  As we sampled, we were told that to get the full benefit of chocolate, it is best to let it melt in your mouth.  Do you know what a challenge that is!

chocolateHere it was  impossible to resist stocking up on tasty and beautifully packaged sweets.

wineryNo Foodie Adventure would be complete without visits to wineries where a little more is learned each time about the process of making wine.

wineryIt was fascinating to visit Freixenet, a huge and sophisticated operation that produces 90 million bottles each year.  

wineryWhile it is not always typical for wineries to export, that is not true here.  Freixenet cavas and wines are sent to more than 140 countries across the globe.  After seeing this facility, I have new appreciation for the black bottle cava I use for mimosas!

foodWhether in the U.S. or elsewhere, learning how what we eat and drink is produced and where it comes from is eye opening and has taught me not to take for granted what is on my table.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine, Travel

Black Dinah…..here?

A few days ago I took you to Isle au Haut, but I didn’t tell you the whole story.  For a sparsely populated and isolated island, Isle au Haut is full of surprises among which are Black Dinah Chocolates.

Pointing to Black Dinah
Pointing to Black Dinah

If you are not careful as you walk along Isle au Haut’s main dirt road, you just might miss this crudely painted sign pointing down another dirt road.

Black Dinah in Living
Black Dinah in Living

What you need to know about Black Dinah is that it has been featured in Martha Stewart’s Living as well as Gourmet and Coastal Living, 

Isle au Hautand that Kate Shaffer has been named one of top ten chocolatiers in the country.  Yep, all this on an island.

Black Dinah Cafe
Black Dinah Cafe

Who would have guessed this modest frame building is home to both the chocolates and a pint sized cafe which during some summer days not only sells chocolates but serves breakfast, Sunday brunch and killer ice cream.  According to a handout I picked up, here’s what you’ll find: award winning chocolate; helpful, friendly people; fresh bread on Sundays; a small selection of gourmet groceries; hearty breakfasts and yesterday’s paper.

Isle au HautI also spotted Kate’s cookbook which is filled with tempting desserts, all made with chocolate, of course!

Black Dinah Kitchen
Black Dinah Kitchen

Where is the candy made?  Out back, of course, in another unassuming building.

Isle au HautInside, however, is another story.

Isle au HautIn this fully equipped kitchen area, chocolate is cooked and stirred

Isle au Hautand set aside to be cut

Isle au Hautand packaged.

isle au HautLooking at this sign that hangs over a workspace, I couldn’t help but think what fun it might be to spend a few days seeing how it’s all done and maybe even lending a hand.

Though Isle au Haut is the flagship location, there is a second location in Blue Hill where you might be lucky enough to find Kate or her husband Steve serving up espresso or pairing wine with those wonderful chocolates.    If that’s the case, maybe you’ll learn more of their story, like how they came to be on a small Maine island.  It’s an interesting one!  And, should you not be traveling to Maine and want to try Black Dinah Chocolates, check out the website: http://www.blackdinahchocolatiers.com.  You’ll be glad you did.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Food

What Friends!

What a surprise when I opened the refrigerator  and saw it full  of what I learned were cake balls, something new to me.  Now I know that they are a baked cake, crumbled and mixed with frosting, shaped into balls and decorated with chocolate.

So, what prompted this effort?  These gals had a friend who was getting married and expressed a desire to have cake balls decorated as tuxedos.  Sure, said the friends, can do.  Little did they know what effort was required to make hundreds of them.

They were up to their elbows in melted white and dark chocolate.  First, the balls had to be dipped,

then meticulously decorated.  Think about the time required to get each one just right.

Finally, after completing a couple of hundred, time and patience were running short, so the last batch of cake balls were dipped in either light or dark chocolate and mixed in with the tuxedo balls.  To my eye that looked just fine and was a loving gift from friends to a friend.

Just wondering, would you be that good a friend?

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