May 31, 2012
May 31: National Macaroon Day
Islander is nuts about coconuts! After all, she grew up on an island surrounded by coconut trees. To feed the family with the fruit, her Daddy would use a long pole with a knife attached to the end of it and extract the young coconuts from the tree. He would chop off the top of a coconut, stick a straw in it or pour the liquid in a glass and the family would drink fresh coconut water. After that, he would crack the coconut open and we would spoon out the flesh to eat the soft meat. Daddy would also grate the older and firmer coconut meat so Mommy could transform them into a variety of tropical treats.
Islander misses coconuts from Hawaii and must make do on the mainland when she finds coconut products at the grocery store. Sometimes, she makes coconut macaroons because these chewy cookies remind her of a similar dessert her Mommy used to make back home. Try these tropical treats when craving coconut flavors, especially on National Macaroon Day.
(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)
- 3 cups finely shredded coconut, unsweetened
- ¾ cup sugar (we used C&H brand, granulated white)
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt (we used Hawaiian sea salt)
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
In a large bowl, mix the coconut, sugar, egg whites, salt and coconut extract. Blend well until all the ingredients stick together.
Cover the bowl and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a small scoop to drop the coconut cookie dough about an inch apart from each other. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake in a preheated oven at 10-12 minutes or until they begin to brown a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove from the parchment paper. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Serve in mini-muffin/cupcake papers (optional).
- Macarons and macaroons? We have made both before for our blog. Although they are both cookies, macarons most often are referred to the Parisian-style almond meringue treats (see our Mac Attack page) while macaroons are known as the coconut cookies. Read about the different spelling and more about “macarons vs. macaroons” at The Kitchn site.
- Coconut water and coconut juice? Unlike macarons and macaroons, coconut water and juice are one and the same. However, some companies that are selling them tend to add some unnatural preservatives in the drink. Learn more at the same Kitchn site.
- Search our blog for more recipes containing coconuts.
May 22, 2012
May 22: National Vanilla Pudding Day
Our moms used to put pudding snack packs in our lunchboxes for a sweet school time treat. Sometimes, like us, they would also prepare pudding from a mix for a quick after-dinner dessert. But now we prefer pudding from scratch as it tastes so much better! And it is just as quick and easy to make as the Jell-O boxed brand. Below is a recipe for a basic vanilla pudding that is thickened with cornstarch instead of eggs. Try this tasty homemade version for a very good vanilla pudding on National Vanilla Pudding Day.
(Adapted from The New York Times)
- 2 ½ cups half-and-half, divided use
- 2/3 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract/flavoring
In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of half-and-half with the sugar and salt. Simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, being careful not to burn the bottom of the pan. In a measuring cup or bowl, stir in the cornstarch with the remaining ½ cup of half-and-half and mix well to remove any lumps. Pour this into the main liquid mixture. Stir well until thickened. Remove from heat.
Add the butter, if using, and stir until melted. Mix in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into dessert cups or ramekins. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream and/or berries, if desired.
- Place plastic film/wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent the formation of a “skin” on top (optional).
- Turn vanilla into chocolate pudding by adding 2 ounces (2 squares of Baker’s brand) of finely chopped bitterweet or unsweetened chocolate to the recipe after adding the butter. The chocolate may also be melted before stirring it into the vanilla mixture.
- Or try the Mexican version of chocolate pudding. See our blog recipe post for pudín de chocolate for National Chocolate Pudding Day on June 26.
May 21, 2012
Montrose Tea Cakes
May 21: Death date of the Great Montrose
Besides scones and shortbreads, there are other Scottish sweets we like to eat, such as the delicately delicious floral-scented tea cakes pictured above. Montrose tea cakes, although disputed to be affiliated with Highlander’s ancestral clan chief or the historic city in Scotland, may have been named partly because of an essential ingredient in this recipe—rose water. Whatever the inspiration, these tiny treats are terrific for tea time as well as for honoring the memory of James Graham, the Great Marquis of Montrose.
(Adapted from CeltNet)
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup currants
- 2 teaspoons brandy
- ½ – 2 teaspoons rose water (to taste)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup flour (not self-rising)
- pinch of nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the currants, brandy and rose water. In another bowl, sift the baking powder, salt, flour and nutmeg.
Mix into the batter until smooth. Fill a greased baby bundt pan or mini muffin/cupcake tin no more than ¾ full with batter. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- When we honeymooned in Scotland in 1997, we visited St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh where James Graham, the Great Marquis of Montrose, is buried in a regal memorial.
- The tea cakes above are photographed on a modern Montrose tartan.
- Rose water may be found in the specialty baking aisle of grocery stores or at Indian and Middle Eastern food markets. Its essence tends to yield a strong taste, so reduce the flavoring to half or one teaspoonful, if desired.
- If using self-rising flour, omit the baking powder and salt in this recipe.
- Search our blog for other Scottish recipes.
Next Page »