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January 23, 2006

What macaroon isn't better with banana rum ice cream?

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Challenge:  Coconut.  I don't really like coconut.  My wife, she loves the coconut, that's why we decided to participate in a macaroon event.

Why don't I like coconut?

Hard to say, but it's not so much the flavour as the fact that when I think coconut, I think Bounty (I guess that's the rough equivalent of an American Almond Joy), a "chocolate bar" composed of coconut enveloped in chocolate.  Macaroons usually aren't much better -- a coconut igloo topped with a radioactive cherry beacon.  What these treats -- what all treats -- made with shredded coconut have in common, and what I really object to, is mouthfeel: it's like I'm chewing on sweetened, stale hay.

Which leads us to Donna Hay, and today's Hay Hay It's Donna Day macaroon challenge sponsored by Pearl of the Orient.

The challenge was to take the following Donna Hay recipe for lime macaroons and play with the flavouring:

Lime Macaroons

2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 ½ tablespoon shredded lime zest

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the coconut, sugar, egg whites and lime zest in a bowl and mix to combine. Roll the mixture into balls. Place on a lined baking tray, flatten slightly and cook for 10-12 minutes or until light golden. Serve with coffee. Makes 15.

I love these challenges.  My first suggestion was to replace the macaroon with a chocolate chip cookie, but Rachel quickly vetoed that.

Trying to shake the spectre of the dreaded Bounty bar from my mind, I tried to think of other connections to coconut.  Tropical islands, Bounty bars, starving competitors on Survivor, Bounty bars, fancy tropical fruit drinks, ice cream.  Mmmm, that's better.   

Replacing the lime zest with other citrus seemed too obvious, albeit delicious.  For a different kind of fruit, readily available in the dead of winter in Toronto, how about some dried apricot?  And we recalled reading somewhere that Earl Grey tea and apricots match well, so that could be something really unusual.  We also had some preserved ginger left over from our Christmas Thompson turkey adventure, and that could be an Asian flavour tie-in.   But I'm never one to be satisfied with just two ideas for different cookies when we could dirty even more dishes.  Figuring that the fabulous Donna Hay put lime zest in her original recipe for a very good reason -- it was delicious --  I hit upon the idea of creating tropical ice cream sandwiches by layering lime macaroons with homemade banana-rum ice cream.  Just what you need for an unseasonably warm January day on the north shore of Lake Ontario!

Picture_010_2_2 Preparation:

Preserved Ginger Macaroons (pictured)

Follow above recipe, replacing lime zest with approximately 60 grams finely diced preserved ginger.

Apricot and Earl Grey Macaroons

Wrap 1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves in cheesecloth (this is essentially a bouquet garni).  Place the cheesecloth packet in a bowl or airtight container and cover with a 1/2 cup granulated sugar.  Cover tightly or seal, and leave overnight or until ready to use.  This is the same idea behind vanilla sugar, except this sugar has a lovely bergamot perfume.

Add 2 teaspoons Earl Grey tea leaves to 500 ml of boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the tea leaves and add 50 grams of finely diced dried apricots.  Soak the apricots for 2-6 hours, then drain.  Follow above recipe, replacing the regular sugar with the aromatised sugar and the lime zest with apricots.

Rob's Banana Rum Ice Cream

250 ml 3.25% milk
250 ml 35% heavy cream
200 ml dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
115 grams sugar (approx. 1/2 cup)
125 grams frozen bananas (approx. 2 bananas, may substitute unfrozen, but overripe bananas)

In a small pot over medium heat, reduce dark rum to just 50 ml. When reduced, add milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar, and heat to 80ºC. Do not let mixture boil.  Remove from heat, add bananas, and blend until mixture is smooth and bananas are incorporated.

Chill overnight.

Strain mixture into ice cream maker, and prepare as per maker's instructions.

Tasting and judgment:  My wife and I made banana rum lime macaroon ice cream sandwich cookies and they are delicious.  Homemade macaroons are moister and smoother than their storebought cousins, and the banana rum ice cream makes them a truly decadent treat.  Lime, coconut, banana, and rum really are complementary flavours: the banana ice cream has a prominent banana flavour at the start, with a subtle, sugary rum finish, then the lime in the macaroons provides a clean, sharp citrus kick.  Sweet.

The preserved ginger macaroons are also very good.  We had an acquaintance who adores ginger try them, and she thought they were stupendous.  They have a noticeable sweet ginger taste, and a little of that sharp and exotic ginger punch as well.

The apricot-Earl Grey macaroon was a variation for which we had high hopes.  Another friend, who loves coconut, said that these were his favourite because he really liked the apricot/coconut flavour pairing. We did notice, and he agreed, that the bergamot flavour we were hoping for was all but absent.  I don't want to say this recipe didn't work, especially given that the apricot and coconut combination is delicious.  It's fair to say, however, that this recipe needs a little tinkering in order to assert the bergamot flavour of the tea.

After all that, am I a convert to coconut?  No, but I've come to a point where I can start to appreciate it, I think.  I've also made some treats that my wife and friends really enjoy, which is one of cooking's ultimate benefits.  Combine that with some soul-satisfying ice cream, and this challenge certainly had its rewards. 

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Comments

Dave

Pictures look amazing. You must have one really really good camera.

You know I always say that you can tell anything about a man, by the quality of his digital images.

Tania

My goodness, these sound and look delicious! I'm particularly intrigued by the ginger ones, as I am a total freak for ginger. I'd probably dips these in bittersweet chocolate. Yummmm! Judging from the photo, you used the ginger bits in syrup, right? Not the candied stuff?

Jill

I love coconut and bounty is my favourite chocolate bar but I've never made macaroons even though they are my father's favourite treat. I guess a love of coconut runs in the family.

Ivonne

Rob,

I'm in coconut heaven. I love coconut. Love it!

And that ice cream ... it almost makes the Leafs losing 7-0 on Saturday night bearable.

Delicious!

Glutton Rabbit

Hi Rob, Hi Rachel,
Such exquisite macaroons! I love the idea of sandwiching ice-cream between macaroons and the thought of it simply make my mouth water. Great job! BTW, I think your description about coconut is really funny ;p. Stay tuned for the round-up next week.

rob

Thanks, everyone, for your compliments.

Tania, yes, these are the ginger bits in syrup. I bought them at Lively Life Fine Foods in the St. Lawrence Market.

Jill, if you really love coconut, you should make these macaroons. They take all of five minutes to prepare.

Ivonne, let us never speak of the Leafs again. Six in a row! Now all this ridiculous talk of trading Sundin.

Glutton Rabit, thanks for stopping by. We had a really good time pariticipating in the event. Hope you keep your sanity while getting everything organized.

Rob

barbara

Thanks for participating Rob. The macaroons look and sound fabulous. I love your take on the original.

Rachel

Just an update -- I made this recipe again but used diced dried apricots in place of the lime. No soaking, nothing fancy, and they were very delicious. This may be a standard for me from now on!

list of perfumes

well i just wanted to suggest you to replace the macaroon with a chocolate chip cookie.

fahrrad

Dies ist ein großer Ort. Ich möchte hier noch einmal.

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