That’s the relationship between the overall stress of my week and the recipe I choose for the Smackdown.
No, that’s not cat hork; it’s Coco Lopez cream of coconut. More on that later.
In a magical week with no stress, which I assume will also be filled with flying cars made of solid gold and bowlfuls of tranquilizers on pedestals at every street corner, I might attempt a Thomas Keller French Laundry recipe. In a low stress week, I might hit up something like Big Small Plates, with its wonderful food but thousand-ingredient long lists. During a moderately stressful week, I might reach for All About Braising or some Jamie Oliver.
In a high stress week – you may have guessed that this was just such a week – I rifle through my cookbooks looking for a recipe for Corn Flakes. I don’t mean a recipe for making my own Corn Flakes, I literally mean a recipe with the ingredients “Corn Flakes” and “milk.” (FYI, I haven’t managed to find one yet.) When I fail to find that recipe, I make dessert. Cake, cupcakes, ice cream, whatever.
If it’s an exceptionally stressful week then it’s a fairly easy dessert. Tonight: chocolate-dipped macaroons. Not just any macaroons, but The New Best Recipe’s‘s macaroons. According to the title of the book, these should be the best macaroons I’ve ever had; most things from this book are Best in Show except for the oatmeal cookies but I’m 100% sure that that was my fault.
I’ll pause for a moment while you go buy the book. I know there’s no real reason for me to pause, since you’re not reading this in real time, but I like the fiction that you are and it gives me time to get my wits about me. My wits are specially scattered right now, so I’ll wait an extra few days while you receive the book and make the lemon bars.
I’ve made macaroons before, always with whipped egg whites but never with great success; they always spread and just…turn weird. Overly chewy. Gummy. Generally unpleasant. The NBR recipe is like no other macaroon recipe I’ve tried before. It’s got a mixture of sweetened and unsweetened coconut, unbeaten egg whites and Coco Lopez! I feel strongly that every time you say or write Coco Lopez! it should be with an exclamation point, and maybe also with a little booty shake. And if you’ve been reading the Smackdown for any amount a time, you know I’m not the booty shaking type; I’m a little uncomfortable even typing the words.
That should give you an idea of how strongly I feel about Coco Lopez! I have to get excited about it, because otherwise it would be too nauseating to work with. I assume you’ve seen the photo, so you know what I’m talking about here. It’s like what happens when your pet beagle eats a bag of marshmallows, several large candles, washes it down with a bottle of glue and then immediately throws it all up. Seriously, just look at the picture again and I won’t have to write things like that. If you’ve been fortunate enough to get to this point in your life without encountering a can of Coco Lopez!, it’s some kind of processed, sweetened food product used in pina coladas and, apparently, macaroons.
There are brands other than Coco Lopez!, but anyone who’s ever had to work with cream of coconut knows that Coco Lopez! is by far the front-runner in terms of how funny the name is.
As instructed, I mixed the wet ingredients (Coco Lopez!, egg whites and corn syrup) together and folded them into the two coconuts. Believe me when I tell you that whisking egg whites into a bowl of Coco Lopez! (1) makes it look roughly 65% more disgusting than it does on its own and (2) takes nearly an hour. That may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight.
I shaped the mixture into the required “little haystacks.” The NBR folks like a “dainty” macaroon and inform me that the batter should make 48 1-inch macaroons. I say fuck dainty, I might as well make ’em bigger because I’m just going to eat five of the little ones anyway. This way, I eat fewer and feel better about myself. Go go Gadget rationalization!
I’ve never been good at dainty anyway.* I suck pretty hard at demure, too.
While my haystacks baked** I pulled out one of the many free bars of chocolate with which I returned from BlogHer Food, along with an incredible number of free spatulas – never let it be said that Chef’s Catalog does not know how to court me. I chopped it and threw it into a double boiler to melt while the haystacks browned.
Ooh, I’m also awful at “unassuming” and “delicate.” I do, however, excel at curmudgeonly.
*I’ve also never tried really hard, although I’m sure that if I really put my mind to it I’d go down in flames BIG TIME.
I pulled out my haystacks and let them cool for 20 minutes or so before dipping the bottoms into some 70% dark chocolate. (Coco Lopez! is really sweet. And it was the only chocolate I had in the house.) I probably should have let them cool a few minutes longer, but I’m also terrible with patience and time-biding.
The chocolate-dipping was meditative, where “meditative” means “I got the lyrics to that part of Les Miserables where Fantine has to sell her hair and become a prostitute stuck in my head for no good reason.” I had enough chocolate to get through all but two of my post-taste test macaroons.
I haven’t eaten any of the chocolate-dipped versions but I’ve eaten…more than one of the plain versions, there’s no reason to quibble over numbers. Damn it if those Best Recipe people haven’t done it again. These were perfectly crisp on the outside, dense and chewy inside, just sweet enough and with the most intense coconut flavor of any macaroon I’ve ever had. All that AND they didn’t spread and mutate in the oven. Gracias, Coco Lopez! ¡Usted salvó el día otra vez!* While this will be my go-to macaroon from now on, although I’m not sure how often I’ll actually make them, I don’t think any person should ingest more than one or two cans’ worth of Coco Lopez! in his or her lifetime. But if you’re going to take the Coco Lopez! plunge, it should definitely be in the form of these macaroons.
See, I TOLD you to get the book already. You’ve always been a stubborn sonofabitch, haven’t you?
*I used the MacBook’s widget to translate this sentence for me, so I’m sorry if it’s off and I accidentally insulted your mother.