Saturday, February 17, 2007

This should "catch me up" to Valentine's Day

If it’s not chocolate, why bother???

Next up on the list of Valentine’s Day treats are Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Macaroons. I’m not bothering to run the recipe through MasterCook because I really don’t want to know the fat content. Rarely do I make a conscious decision to do this, but I adore macaroons and for this one-time-a-year treat, I don’t want to know anything that may diminish my joy while eating them!

I cannot locate the original source of this recipe, although I’ve seen it in a couple of newspapers, so to whomever thought this recipe up—thank you!!! These were excellent. Moist, chewy, coconut-ey, and the almond paste added a sublime undertone of almond flavor.

I followed the recipe exactly as shown below except that I couldn’t figure out how to grate the almond paste. It was soft and didn’t perform well in either my rotary or my box grater. So I tore it into little pieces and, using my smaller food processor, blended the almond paste and egg white together until smooth, then I added the sweetened condensed milk slowly, while the machine was running, until it was all blended. Then I dumped this into a large bowl and added the rest of the ingredients through the semisweet mini-morsels. I used a 1 tablespoon size cookie scoop, which made these a high, nicely rounded cookie.

The baking time listed may be off, or maybe my oven thermometer isn’t accurate, but I baked each sheet for 7 minutes, turned the sheet 180˚, baked another 7 minutes or so until the bottom was a light brown, then removed them from the oven. After allowing the macaroons to rest on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes, I carefully transferred them to a cooling rack.

As you can see by the photo, I didn’t sprinkle them with the sliced almonds. It was getting late and I was in a hurry to clean up the kitchen to start dinner. Next time, though, I will take that extra step. I think that the crunch of the almonds will contrast nicely with the chew of the coconut, and what’s not to like about some additional almond flavor?

Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Macaroons

1 (14 oz.) pkg. sweetened, flaked coconut

3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk

1/2 of 7 oz. pkg. almond paste, grated

2 T. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 tsp. grated orange rind

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. semisweet chocolate mini morsels

1 egg white

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate morsels

1 T. shortening

1/4 c. sliced almonds

Combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Add almond paste and next 5 ingredients. Stir in mini morsels.

Beat egg white at high speed of mixer until stiff peaks form; fold into coconut mixture.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 20-21 mins. or until edges are golden and tops are lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Melt chocolate morsels and shortening in a 1-cup glass measuring cup on HIGH 1 minute, or until melted, stirring once.

Pour melted chocolate into small bag. Snip a small hole in the corner of bag; drizzle chocolate over macaroons; sprinkle with almonds, if desired. Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Yield: 2 dozen

Next on my list was to bake brownies. Jenni had sent a wonderful-sounding recipe for Raspberry Truffle Brownies, but I was running out of steam. So I dug into the pantry and came up with a box of Ghirardelli Chocolate Syrup Brownie Mix. Long ago I realized that mixes can give me better results than making from scratch for two things, angel food cake and brownies.

Feeling a bit guilty about my extravagance with the macaroons, I decided to lighten this recipe a bit.

To the mix, I added 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 3 tablespoons of pureed pears, 2 egg whites, and ¼ cup of water. I spread ½ of that batter into a greased 8”x8” pan, spread ½ cup of raspberry preserves over and swirled it in a bit. I then mixed ½ cup of milk chocolate chips in the remaining batter and spread that evenly over the raspberry layer. I baked the brownies per the package directions.

Oh my. These were heavenly. Intensely chocolate with a bright tang of raspberry flavor—and only 4g total fat (1g saturated) per 2” square. I should have made more….

Sorry-- no photo. These were eaten (or shared) before that could happen!!!

And before I forget to mention, pureed pears.

I buy cans of pears (in juice) and, when drained and pureed until smooth, they make a wonderful substitute for half of the oil called for in baked good recipes. And sometimes I can get away with replacing up to ¾ of the oil with the puree (in muffins, particularly). Each 15 ounce can will yield 2/3 – ¾ cup of puree.

And last, cupcakes. sent me several cupcake recipes and, having bought heart-motif cupcake papers, I decided to make a half batch of chocolate buttermilk cupcakes.

These were low in fat for a cupcake, and didn’t use butter or eggs, so I decided to keep the recipe amount of canola oil. My notes follow the recipe. These were very, very good. I didn’t realize that it was possible to make a cupcake with such a good flavor and nice crumb, without using butter or eggs! I added some dark chocolate chips to the center, and “frosted” them with the chips as well. My notes follow the recipe.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze
makes 12

12 paper cupcake liners
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk, low-fat
plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, low-fat
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Cooking Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add the sugar, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and stir to combine (do not overmix).

3. Fill each baking cup 2/3 full. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.

4. When the cupcakes are cool, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Let the chocolate cool until it thickens slightly. Using a spoon, drizzle the cupcakes with the melted chocolate.

Makes 12 standard size cupcakes or 24 miniature cupcakes.

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Nutritional Information
Number of Servings: 12

Per Serving




30 g


8 g


1 g


3 g

Saturated Fat

2 g


147 mg

I placed a heaping tablespoon of batter in each cupcake paper, then arranged 4 dark chocolate chips in the center, then divided the remaining batter on top of the chips.

After taking the cupcakes from the oven, I placed 4 dark chocolate chips on the top of each cupcake and placed the pan back in the oven for 30 seconds. After removing it from the oven, I allowed the chips to soften for another minute or so, then swirled the melted chocolate on the top of each muffin. After they cooled a bit, I sprinkled on coarse red sugar and white candy snowflakes.

The best way to enjoy this cupcake is to eat it slightly warm, so the center chips are soft (although eating the cupcakes cold are pretty good too!). I microwaved each cupcake for 8 seconds on “high” to achieve this.

Well, that was my Valentine's Day baking extravaganza.

I have to note that I was able to scrape the milk chocolate and almonds off of the burnt toffee, and it is in the refrigerator awaiting use. I’m thinking, maybe biscotti? But we have a lot of other goodies to eat in the meantime.

Hmmm, Easter baking is only about 5 weeks away!