I love the summer.
And I love living in the city.
But I do not love living in the city in the summer. There is something indecorous and undignified about the city in the summer. The residents are crankier, the stains on the sidewalk are more visible, the streets are sootier, and the smells are so much more vile. I saw some shirtless men almost come to fisticuffs yesterday because one of them was idling in their car and blocking traffic. Annoying, to be sure, but middle of the street idling is pretty standard around here. But I understand where they are coming from. If I didn’t live on the ground floor in the middle of the city, I would wear significantly fewer articles of clothing in this heat, but I can’t, because I have neighbors. And sometimes I would like to punch them in my own version of shirtless fisticuffs when they are hanging out outside my open window yelling at 2 am. PEOPLE, we are trying to have a civilization here, PLEASE take it elsewhere. The other day when I woke up at 6:30 am it was hotter in Boston than it was in DALLAS. and then I had to the suffer the injustice of putting on pants. I live in an non-air conditioned apartment and my favorite hobby is cooking. And I am officially in training for a half marathon.* I am cranky. But I don’t want to complain, because like I said, I love the summer. I would just love it more if I had a summer house, or at least central air.
*This is no joke, I actually am in training for a half marathon, and the littles are as well if they haven’t forgotten. I am sharing so that I have some accountability. Feel free to keep on top of me for this...
At any rate, that explains some of my absence here. And I have had some company, and I have had some disappointments in the kitchen. I made a blueberry pie. I was so excited about it. It looked gorgeous, but I used tapioca starch as the thickener and it made the texture weird.
I also made some mussels in curry broth. They were good, but not perfect either time, so I am not sharing yet. And I made a carbonara but the egg whites scrambled…another disappointment. Sometimes you just don’t have the Force with you. But it’s all coming back to me now folks, because I made summer rolls with rice noodles, avocado, mango and shrimp, and they rolled beautifully and didn’t fall apart. And then I made, quite possibly, my favorite new treat: chocolate covered macaroons.
My gut reaction to coconut is to say I don’t like it at all. You: “Coconut,” me: “Blech.” It’s like a reflex. But as it turns out, not a very good one. I do like coconut. I actually can’t think of anything with coconut in it that I don’t like (This, by the way, is happening a lot for me these days, I apparently was kind of a closeted picky eater, and I am learning how lost I was without these things in my life. Curry powder? Are you kidding? It now goes in EVERYTHING) and these macaroons just make me love it more. They are perfectly almost-too-sweet-but-just-barely-not, and the bittersweet chocolate on top provides a lovely counter balance to all that sugar. I couldn’t stop eating them as soon as they were finished, and then I discovered I love them even more when they are frozen-they help beat the heat-or I pretend they do, at any rate. And I can’t wait to make them again and modify them a bit. Maybe add some orange zest, or add mini chocolate chips right to the batter. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, enjoy these exactly the way they are now. You don’t even have to turn your oven on very high!
Chocolate Drizzled Macaroons (makes 16-18)
From A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
3 cups lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup egg whites (this required 6 eggs for me)
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or use chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the coconut, sugar and egg whites in a large, heavy saucepan, and stir to combine well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, about 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is pasty but not dry. (The uncooked mixture will look creamy at first, and then it will slowly get drier and drier. You want to stop cooking when it no longer looks creamy but before it gets dry.) Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla. Spread out the coconut mixture in a pie plate or on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Using your hands or a small ice cream scoop, scoop and pack the coconut mixture into domes, and place them on the baking sheet-about two tablespoons per macaroon. You should wind up with about sixteen. Bake the macaroons until golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
Set cookies on rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it is very hot and steamy (not boiling), remove from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Spoon the glaze over the macaroons, covering them almost completely and allowing the chocolate to drip down the sides. Refrigerate the macaroons until the glaze sets, at least 2 hours. Transfer the macaroons to an airtight container, and refrigerate or freeze.