You must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years if you haven’t noticed the obsession with macaroons. Along with cup cakes, I think it has to be the biggest craze of recent years. Thing is, every time I heard people talking about macaroons, every email I got about the latest recipe or the latest store to open offering the little sweets, I kept getting a niggling feeling at the back of my mind. Something telling me there was something not right about the macaroon to which everyone was referring.
It took me a while (that’s how it goes when your head is filled to capacity with all sorts of strange foodie thoughts), but eventually I realised what had been annoying me.
The macaroon ‘craze’ was only about French macaroons, and of course, us Scots have our very own definition of a macaroon. Totally different to the light, melt in your mouth French version, but nevertheless, just as tempting. My confusion came from the fact that I grew up with the Scottish version, interspersed with tastes of the English version, but had never, never encountered the French version.
As you can see from the following recipe, the Scottish version uses coconut and potato (yes, I know, only a little though, just as a binding agent), lots of icing sugar and is coated in chocolate. The English version also uses coconut, but has egg whites in the mix and there is no use of chocolate (or potato! I think they’re missing a trick there!).
Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes (if you need to cook the potatoes)
Ingredients for around 20 to 25 macaroons
100gr / 4oz. cooked potatoes, which have been cooled and mashed smooth to remove all lumps.
500gr / 17oz. icing sugar. This quantity can vary, so best to have extra available.
225gr / 80z. 70% chocolate. Again, have extra available.
200gr / 7oz. desiccated coconut
- Place a sheet(s) of grease proof paper on a baking tray or plate(s). Set these aside ready to take your macaroons. You will be putting them in the freezer, so they need to be a size that will fit.
- Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add half of the coconut and three quarters (roughly) of the icing sugar. Bring this together, I find it easiest with a spatula, or large metal spoon. It will be very sticky, but keep going until all the sugar and coconut is incorporated evenly into the mix. You want to get this sticky mix to a state that you can handle it enough to shape it. If needed add the rest of the sugar, or more sugar and coconut if need be to get your mix to the desired consistency.
- Take small pieces of the mix, about the size of a walnut in its shell. Roll them out, flatten a little and shape until you get thick rectangles. Of course you can make them any size and shape you want, but I like to keep them quite small, firstly because they are very sweet, so you don’t need a large macaroon. And secondly to keep the ratio of chocolate to centre at a balanced level.
- When rolling and forming your macaroons, work swiftly. The reason for this is that if you play with them too much the heat of your hand will make them more sticky and difficult to work with. Should this happen, you can always put them in the fridge or freezer (not too long in the freezer) to stiffen the mix up a little and make it more manageable.
- Once your macaroons are formed and placed on the trays with grease proof paper, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Whilst they are hardening, set your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Spread out half of your remaining coconut on the tray and toast it in the oven. This should only take a few minutes, keep an eye on it. When the coconut is golden brown, remove it from the oven, allow it to cool and mix it with the rest of the un-toasted coconut.
- Also whilst the macaroons are chilling you can melt your chocolate over a pan of gently boiling water.
- When it is time to remove the macaroons from the freezer, you need to work quickly. So, set up your assembly line. First is the macaroon, then the chocolate, then a plate with the coconut. I like to keep the chocolate over the pan so that it doesn’t harden whilst I work. Not of course on the heat of the stove, but on my work surface, which allows the residual heat from the water to keep the chocolate at the right consistency. Be careful however, it is hot.
- Dip and coat each macaroon first in chocolate then cover in coconut and set back on your plate with grease proof paper.
- Once they are all evenly covered, leave to harden. I like to put them in the fridge.
Tips and Variations
- The quantities in this recipe are quite difficult to pin down to exact amounts. For the quantities of icing sugar it depends on how ‘wet’ your potatoes are for example. Or with the quantity of chocolate, this can depend on how thickly you cover your macaroons, and of course the size you make them.
- There are many types of macaroons. Recently the French version has become very popular, there is also an English version which uses coconut, but with egg whites. These are Scottish version of macaroon that I grew up with.
- Try adding a splash of whisky, brandy or rum to your melted chocolate, for a grown up version. Just a splash though, as you want the chocolate to set hard.
- The macaroons will keep for about 10 days to 2 weeks in a dry cool place. I normally line a tin with greaseproof paper and keep them that way.
- If the chocolate should get too thick and gloopy whilst you are coating, just return to the heat for a minute or two to melt it again. You can’t do this too many times as it will affect the chocolate. If the macaroons get soft when you are working, you can put them back in the freezer for a few minutes. The best way though, it to be organized with your production and to work quickly, without distractions.