Macaroons, with three sauces

Since I can’t eat milk, I’m always trying to come up with lovely desserts that don’t call for milk products. I often fantasize about milk-free dessert inventions when I’m out at a great restaurant and I can’t eat any of their desserts because they’re all full of milk. (Oh, right there’s sorbet. I am so tired of sorbet!) This dessert literally came to me in a dream. Yes, I sometimes dream about cooking....and eating.

Macaroons require no milk products (and no gluten products!), and are rich and lovely. And they’re easy to make. I wanted to make these for an upcoming dinner party, but I knew some people think they don’t like coconut. So I was trying to figure out how to make these fun and more palatable. Then it came to me -- dipping sauces! I came up with a trio of sauces, all with flavors that go well with coconut, with three different colors (brown, red, and orange) that looked great together. This was a big hit at my party.

While planning the party, I considered doing the sauces as a fondu option; I realized we could spear the macaroons and dunk them into the three sauces, since all the sauces would be warmed before serving anyway. I would have done this had I not been doing a sit-down fancy dinner for 18. (I had enough to handle without figuring out how to make sure everyone could reach all of the fondu pots over all the candles and flowers.) So I gave each person four macaroons on a plate and then we passed the sauces. We had a great time with this, especially given that the hostess was drunk enough to try to prove that none of the sauces would stain the table cloth we were using. (Note to self: you were not meant to sell Kirby vacuum cleaners. And you should pre-spot stains before going to bed.)

 

The macaroon recipe here is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, my favorite cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bag (2.5 cups) of high quality UNSWEETENED shredded coconut
  • 2-3 egg whites, depending on whether small or large eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (the real stuff, not the fake!)
  • .5 teaspoon almond extract if you like it (I do)
  • parchment paper (available near the Saran wrap and tin foil, and yes, you do have to use it)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands. It will seem kind of dry. That's fine. Don't mix it so much that it becomes a paste; just mix it until all the ingredients are evened-out.

  3. Clean your hands. Then wet your hands with water. Using your wet hands, make small, relatively loose piles of the mixture (about 1 inch high, about 1-2 tablespoons each), and put on the parchment paper, about an inch apart. (If your hands get too sticky, wash and rewet.)

  4. Bake until light brown (not just the tips, but actually a little browned all over), about 16-18 minutes.

  5. Using a pancake spatula, remove immediately to a cooling rack. (These keep, if covered, for about 3 days. But they are truly the best while still warm.)
     

Three sauces:

  1. Bittersweet chocolate with amaretto: In a double boiler, I melted 8 ounces of Ghiradelli 70% bittersweet chocolate (which is milk-free) with about half a stick of Willow Run margarine and 2 tablespoons of Amaretto di Sarona. (Use butter instead of margarine if your guests can tolerate milk.) This must be served warm, because it solidifies at room temperature. If you want, you can dunk cooled macaroons in this and let them cool to make heavenly chocolate macaroons. I made this sauce kind of bitter because the macaroons are very sweet, so the bitter chocolate tastes lovely with them.

  2. Raspberry sauce: In a sauce pan, I combined a bag of frozen organic raspberries (organic because I find them have more flavor), about 1/4 cup of sugar, and a bit of lemon juice. I mashed all this up so there were no whole raspberries left. I accidentally put in too much lemon juice, and I didn’t have more raspberries on hand, so I confess I added some Smucker’s raspberry preserves to give it more raspberry flavor. It definitely helped.

  3. Mango with lime and Couinteau: I blended (in the blender) the meat of a fresh mango with some lime juice (not much) and about 1/3 cup of Cointreau. I then cooked it lightly to make it taste less alcoholic. My guests liked this sauce the best. And we ended up passing around the bottle of Cointreau for sipping with dessert!

 

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