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.
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.
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 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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Yield 2 dozen cookies
10 ounces (283 grams) sweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup (80 grams) pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 F (170 degrees C).
In a food processor, place the shredded coconut and pulse until the coconut has been broken down into small pieces, about 20-30 seconds. The coconut should resemble grains of rice. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. Stir in the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. It will appear a bit soupy. Stir in the coconut until uniform.
Using a small scoop, drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.