“Are you sure you can’t stay home? What’s so important at work?” I pled, listing out all the fun things that we could do. The park, the aquarium, the zoo, the museum center to see the dinosaur exhibit. Despite my offers, David decided to be a responsible adult and go into work. This left me with an entire day to myself.
What would I do with it? I tossed around the idea of dying my hair, decided against it. I resolved to embark an equally risky endeavor.
I could cook dinner.
I was already headed to the store for supplies for a grill out anyway.
I spent about an hour on photograzing, looking for inspiration. I needed something easy, something that was difficult to mess up. I was determined not to fall prey to my usual MO, which is wandering around in the grocery store for a huge period of time, grabbing random ingredients and bringing them home to try and form some sort of haphazard semblance of a tasty dinner or snack.
I saw the chocolate dipped coconut macaroon picture first. The recipe claims that they could not be easier to make. They certainly seemed easy, and they looked fantastic. I wrote down the ingredients on my grocery list.
But for the main course? I tried to pin down what I wanted to cook. The only results after all my “research” was that my stomach was rumbling from all the yummy visuals and I had decided that I wanted something larger—that I could stick in the oven and leave for a few hours. Ribs are pretty hard to mess up, right?
I headed out to Hyde Park Kroger for provisions. Despite my good intentions, I did end up wandering around the store for an hour in an erratic, inefficient pattern that probably puzzled security. I ended up with the supplies to make my macaroons, two racks of beef ribs, some red, green and yellow peppers, chunks of beef for the skewers, and juice boxes of cheap white zinfandel, with obligatory cheese, Beecher’s Flagship reserve.
I just started with the macaroons.
I decided to make a double batch, and after fudging the recipe to approximately double the amount while doing the least amount of math, fraction and conversion factors possible, dumped the whole can of sweetened condensed milk in the large mixing bowl. A little salt, vanilla extract, and egg whites went in, and I stirred them well. Then I measured out the coconut flakes.(I've put my laura-fied recipe at the bottom of this post.)
I ended up with some very yummy smelling coconut goo. Following the recipe’s instructions, I placed them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven, setting the timer for 20 minutes. I them went about my next task.
I'm not very good at keeping secrets
My first set of macaroons finished baking, so I pulled them out and set them aside to cool. I loaded up the cookie sheet with another set and put them back in the oven.
The skewer prep was next. I put more freezer paper down and opened up the packages of meat. I stuck them in a baggie and poured in some soy sauce, Marsala wine and a little onion powder, then stuck them back in the fridge. I then cut up the peppers for the skewers.
After a few more rounds of macaroons in the oven, I had used all of my coconut goo and they looked oh-so-tasty. I let them cool, then transferred them onto more freezer paper for the next phase—milk chocolate dipping and covering the bottoms of them in crushed heath bar pieces.
Now that the oven was free, I transferred the ribs into it, and set the rib timer for 2 hours and 20 minutes. At this rate, the ribs would be ready about an hour an a half after David got home. I made him a cheese plate to keep him happy until they would be ready. I decided I had earned a juice box, and some cheese.
raw cow's milk cheddar, Beecher's flagship reserve, Widmer 4 year old cheddar, Black Diamond 2 year old cheddar, Beemster gouda and extra aged gouda and lastly, Cabot chipotle cheddar cheese
I then began the dipping process. I used a whole bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, but ran out halfway through. This was terribly upsetting. But I am a resourceful baker, so I looked in the cabinet for the supplies I had bought the day after Easter from Graeter’s. And began melting down chocolate bunnies.
The heath bar crumbles helped a lot, because they acted as a binder against the gluey chocolate and secured my crumbly macaroons. I set my chocolate covered macaroons in the fridge to further set them.
Making the skewers was the last thing on the list, which I did while singing a little nonsense song about bell peppers to the cat, that I believe makes cooking more enjoyable.
The ribs came out and were very good, though I may have used a little too much pepper. The Scotch gave them a nice earthy flavor that went well with the tangy BBQ sauce.
So-easy-even-I-could-make-them Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons with Heath Bar
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used the large can of eagle brand)
about ½ cup egg beaters egg whites
3 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon of salt
6 ½ to 7 cups sweetened coconut flakes
For the chocolate dipping:
1 entire bag of milk chocolate Ghirardelli chips
2 small chocolate bunnies, or more chocolate chips
1 bag crushed Heath bar from baking aisle, or you can crush them yourself for good anger management
1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Seriously. Line the sheets, and spray the liner with PAM, these cookies are very sticky once they’ve cooled and you will have to pry them off your cookie sheet. I used a metal grilling spatula to do that part.
2. Dump the entire can of condensed milk into the bowl, mix in the salt, the vanilla and the eggs. Stir well. Then add the coconut flakes. Stir some more.
3. Grab little pieces of the batter and arrange them into little sticky coconut piles on a cookie sheet. They don’t expand much when cooked, so about an inch and a half apart is good.
4. Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes. I tried 17, but in the end stuck with 20.
5. Take your cookies out of the oven and set them aside. Do not touch. I let mine set for about 20-30 minutes.
6. Once the cookies have cooled, transfer them from the foil to some non stick paper, such as wax or freezer paper (shiny side up). They will be stuck to the foil. Your best bet to get them off of it is to use a metal spatula. There will be a few macaroon casualties. It is OK to eat them.
7. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe container with curved sides (this is important), checking every 40 seconds and stirring to melt evenly. Place the crushed heath bar on a small plate.
8. Grab a macaroon where you think it will not fall apart and put it in the chocolate, gently. Then use the side of the container to keep the macaroon from falling apart from the pull of the chocolate on the bottom of the cookie. Run the macaroon up the side of the container to coat the bottom in chocolate, then immediately place on the plate of Heath bar. Stick the macaroon back on the nonstick paper.
9. Stick the macaroons in the fridge to further set them and make sure they don’t fall apart for about ½ an hour.
(Adapted from a combination of Joy of Cooking and Baking Illustrated, and the Brown Eyed Baker)