SALTED CARAMEL MACAROONS

While cooking, listen to this: Rapper's Delight by The Sugar Hill Gang

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I've never been the impulsive type. I like planning, organizing and being a general type-A personality. But I think deep down there's a part of me that loves to be impulsive. Take a spontaneous trip. Drive a car through Tuscany with my little brother. Trust Rina when she suggests we make something suspicious, like vegan nachos. Because even though I'm wary of anything not smothered in cheese, more often than not, these impulsive tendencies lead to something wonderful. 

I suppose life is all about taking risks. I'm not gonna get too deep here, but I feel strongly that moving on from a painful memory, say a Passover marred by dried, crusty Manischewetiz macaroons, is the key to happiness. 

For years, I detested macaroons, always marred by their supposed dryness. There was something, well, mealy about them that I couldn't quite shake. I distinctly recall hesitantly reaching for a Manischeweitz macaroon as a child, expecting something along the lines of a chocolate cookie, and instead being appalled by the taste and texture of it. But, with time, and an open mind, I discovered that everything by Manischeweitz is slightly tragic, if not incredibly Jewish (and what part of Judaism isn't beloved yet slight tragic?), so I shouldn't let one can of pasty macaroons ruin it all for me. 

I've got to thank Rina for this one. She's the adventurous recipe creator, despite being incredibly picky (one day, I'll list all of the foods she hates here and you won't believe she runs a food blog!), and time after time proves me wrong. I mean these cookies are to die for. If I could go back in time and serve my younger self these beauties instead of the sad store-bought kind, I think I'd have much better memories of keeping Passover. 

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And smothering the macaroons with caramel sauce? I mean come on. Any food smothered in anything is a winner in my book. The lightness of the coconut melds perfectly with the richness of the caramel. And don't be freaked out by condensed milk. It really brings a new level of creaminess to a cookie with a reputation for dryness. 

As we approach Passover (I'm sort of in disbelief it's almost here), we'll be sharing some fun, vegetarian kosher for Passover recipes, after discovering we have tragically few in our archives. By the time your Seder rolls around, you'll have plenty of options to choose from (or you can choose them all!).

And if you don't celebrate Passover, I encourage you to be a bit impulsive this Spring (ish) season. Though it can be hard to compromise your rational, mature mind, a little zest for life never hurt anyone. At the very least, you can be adventurous with your food. Keeping an open mind and stomach is the key to a healthy diet. Or something like that.

xo, Alyssa


SALTED CARAMEL MACAROONS

Yield: 25 or so macaroons

Active Cook Time: 10m | Total Cook Time: 35m

Category: Passover, Sweet, Cookies, Gluten-Free

Source: macaroon base from Danny Macaroons, salted caramel from smitten kitchen

Special Equipment: stand mixer/hand mixer/whisk; cooling rack


Ingredients

macaroons:

2 large egg whites

¼ salt

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

salted caramel:

1 cup white granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) salted butter, cubed*

½ + 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

*if you don't want to buy salted butter, use unsalted butter and ⅛ teaspoon kosher or flaky salt, and add more to taste.

Instructions

Baking prep: preheat the oven to 350F and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whip the egg whites: in the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks are formed.

Make the macaroon mixture: in a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Add in the shredded coconut and mix until well combined - I went in with my hands at this point. Use a spatula to fold in the egg whites.

Form and bake the macaroons: form the macaroon mixture into small balls and place them on the parchment-lined trays. They don't have to be perfect! Macaroons don't spread as they bake, so you can place them closer together than other kinds of cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Make sure to rotate them halfway through the bake time.

Make the salted caramel: while the macaroons are baking, have your cream measured and butter cubed in arm's reach. Pour the sugar into a medium saucepan on medium heat and cook it to a deep copper color. Whisk every once in a while to make sure it isn't burning on the bottom. When it's almost at that copper color, whisk continuously to make sure it doesn't burn and that any sugar bits have melted completely. Stir in the butter and whisk until completely melted, then take the caramel off of the heat and stir in the heavy cream, whisking until it's totally smooth. If you used unsalted butter, now is the time to add in your salt. Allow to cool completely before using.

Decorate the macaroons: place the macaroons on a cooling rack with some parchment paper underneath. Drizzle the salted caramel over the macaroons, making sure they get a nice even layer. If you have extra, bottle it up and pour it over ice cream/your face at a later date.

To keep: these will keep in a tightly sealed container for up to 4 days, and I presume you can freeze them without the caramel, where they will keep much longer.