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Entries in maple syrup (8)

Tuesday
Apr012014

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

It rained today, a slow drizzle from the sky bringing as much gloom as a single afternoon could muster. Never, I dare say, has such a day felt more needed. This feeling spread like a contagion through the high school, my students infected with the Friday afternoon jitters though it was only Monday. It was a sign that winter was going to end, that the months spent hiding indoors were worth the wait, a sign that we could begin to breathe again.

I feel as if I've been holding my breath too long.

Coconut Macaroons Coconut Macaroons

I am afraid winter managed to get the best of me this year. It was a longer and colder winter than I can remember from years past, weakening my spirit in subtle, but significant ways. The sun didn't bring warmth to my skin; the wind cut through my winter coat. With a heavy workload and small town isolation, I often slipped into a melancholy mood, feeling as if the light behind my eyes had dimmed.

Standing in the crowded school hallway, the bell ringing to signal the changing of classes, it smelled like rain and dirt and people. I breathed in deeply, filling my lungs. I never thought that this smell was one I could miss. I never imagined that this scent, damp and dank, would be the sign of spring I was so desperate for.

I paused to take another breath before heading back to class.

Coconut Macaroons

The best coconut macaroon I've had was at a small bakery tucked away in a large market. It didn't look like much, so small as it was, but the texture—dense and endlessly chewy—was worth noting. I've thought of those macaroons often since then, whipping up a batch here or there in my own kitchen. The cookies were neither dense nor chewy enough to satisfy my tastes. Though each cookie was eaten, but I could not help but compare them with each bite.

After fiddling around with this recipe, I uncovered a version that comes quite close to the coveted texture of that small bakery. I am satisfied.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are a simple, five ingredient cookie, that celebrates coconut. With maple syrup to sweeten and vanilla to complement, these cookies become quite addictive (especially if you have a cup of tea in hand). If you prefer a lighter macaroon, simply decrease the baking time, but I enjoy them best when dark and golden (which the recipe reflects below).

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Monday
Dec022013

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins Pumpkin Streusel Muffins Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

The first of the three holidays is over now. The turkey is carved, the stuffing is eaten, and my stomach is pleasantly stretched. Though the weekend was only a short break from everyday life, the time spent with family was reenergizing. Putting off the to-do list, if only for a few days, makes me feel as though all of my responsibilities have been lifted. For once my thoughts revolved around something other than lesson plans, grading, and my next caffeine fix.

For this, I am thankful.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Though many of you have moved on to December’s peppermint and gingerbread flavors, I haven’t finished with pumpkin yet. Perhaps it’s because my favorite loaf of pumpkin espresso bread never made it to the kitchen table or the beloved pumpkin spiced latte never warmed my chilled fingers. I feel as if I didn’t do autumn enough justice, so now I’m rushing to right those delicious wrongs.

I hope that the cinnamon and nutmeg spices in these muffins are enough to transverse the winter flavor barrier. Join me. Let’s not forget about fall just yet.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins are sweet, spiced, and have just the right crunch. The pumpkin muffins are topped with a cinnamon streusel topping and drizzled with a maple glaze. The muffins are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be stored for a day or two in a container with the lid cracked; this leaves the streusel crunchy and the muffins moist. These muffins make any morning, weekend or weekday, into a special occasion.

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Sunday
Jul142013

Coconut Sorbet

Coconut Sorbet

When I was teenager, I suffered from horrible bouts of insomnia. I would lie awake at night for hours, watching the numbers on the clock change, wishing I was somewhere else. Eventually, I did start daydreaming of that somewhere else—my own deserted tropical island. Each night more details of my island emerged. The colors of the sunset, the grains of sand on the beaches, the gradual intensity of the colors on the rocky cliffs. I invented a story for how I arrived on this island. Sometimes I envisioned myself on the island with others, though often I was by myself.

In this sleep-starved state of my mind, this island became my paradise.

Coconut Sorbet Coconut Sorbet

As the fitful nights progressed from weeks to months, the elements of my island grew greater in detail. I imagined building a shelter from coconut palms to block out the blistering sun. I imagined fishing with makeshift poles, struggling to find a meal. I imagined the sleepless, hungry nights, when the rain leaked through the roof and the fish weren't biting. I imagined battling with the hard husk of coconut shells, knocking them down from trees, trying to reach the sweet fruit within. I imagined the loneliness that would build up inside me from my little island, the fear and the desperate wishing to go home. The longer I thought about it, the more stressful my tropical paradise became.

Eventually I let go of my island fantasies, abandoning them once the stress of my paradise began to overshadow my sleepless state.

Coconut Sorbet

Though my short-lived tropical daydreams were years ago, fragments of my imagined adventure pop up whenever I encounter sandy beaches and ocean waves. Landlocked as I am, my curiosity towards coconuts became a way to bring those daydream adventures to light. Eventually, that curiosity turned into a love for the multi-purpose fruit.

Nowadays I like to imagine myself on a sunny, crowded beach, eating coconut sorbet beneath a large umbrella, and watching children play in the tide. I find there is far less stress when modern conveniences are involved.

Coconut Sorbet

Coconut Sorbet is a refreshing, cool treat to enjoy whenever the mood strikes. Coconut milk is sweetened with pure maple syrup and vanilla bean before whirling in an ice cream maker. Small pieces of shredded coconut are added to give a chewy texture to the smooth sorbet. While the sorbet can have the tendency to be icy straight from the freezer, if you leave it out for 10 minutes before scooping, the sorbet transforms into a creamy texture.

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