Who doesn’t love cookies any time of year, but especially during the holidays? December 4 is National Cookie Day, and in honor of one of our favorite all-time sugar highs, I’m sharing the recipe for chocolate macaroons from my new book, “12 Happy Hours.”
But first, get your cookie smarts on. Cookie is the American name derives from the Dutch word koekje or (informal) koekie which means little cake, and arrived in American English through the Dutch in North America.
Cookie-like hard wafers have existed for as long as baking is documented, in part because they travelled very well. But they were usually not sweet enough to be considered cookies by modern standards, according to “History of Cookies.” (A fun read that’s the source for most of this information.)
Cookies appear to have their origins in 7th century AD Persia, shortly after the use of sugar became relatively common in the region. They spread to Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain. By the 14th century, they were common in all levels of society throughout Europe, from royal cuisine to street vendors. With global travel becoming widespread at that time, cookies made a natural travel companion, a modernized equivalent of the travel cakes used throughout history. One of the most popular early cookies, which traveled especially well and became known on every continent by similar names, was the “jumble,” a relatively hard cookie made largely from nuts, sweetener, and water.
Another fun fat: the Oreo is the world’s favorite cookie and the best selling cookie brand of the 21st century with $1.5 billion in global annual revenues, according to Kraft Foods.
And, now, on to my chocolate macaroon recipe. BTW, the earliest recorded macaroon recipes are for the almond meringue variety similar to amaretti, with a crisp crust and a softer interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.
Choose chocolate to suit your tastes — milk chocolate, semisweet, or bittersweet for those (like Thirsty Jane) who crave the dark side.
7 ounces flaked coconut
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside. Stir together coconut, sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in egg whites and vanilla extract. Drop coconut mixture by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. If dipping macaroons, heat chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until melted and smooth. Dip bottom of each cookie in melted chocolate or drizzle melted chocolate over cookies. Place cookies on waxed paper and let stand until set. (Makes about 2 dozen)
(c) 12 Happy Hours by J.K. O’Hanlon
Photo Copyright 2013 Lisarae Photo Design