Friday, May 05, 2006

poker: part 1

Last night, Mr. Cupcake hosted poker for the first time. It made me happy. No, I don't play poker, but it finally gave me a reason to bake again. I have been cutting back on baking recently. The reason being because I've gained 5 pounds in the last year. My doctor confirmed my findings this week when I went in for a checkup. This is better than the 10 pounds Mr. Cupcake's uncle predicted we'd gain after our wedding. Mr. Cupcake has found his weight has been creeping up as well. I have to watch out for the heart disease that runs in his family. However, I don't have to watch out for heart disease in the guys who play poker. Yes, I know I'm going hell.

To celebrate all things poker, I went into a baking frenzy yesterday. I'm going to post each adventure separately starting off with coconut macaroons. I love coconut macaroons. I've made the Barefoot Contessa (Ina call me!) macaroons in the past and thought they were fabulous. I wanted to try the recipe in Baking Illustrated this time.

The recipe calls for 3 cups of sweetened shredded coconut and 3 cups of unsweetened coconut. I couldn't find unsweetened coconut, but the book offered a modified recipe for 6 cups of sweetened coconut. I went with that one.

Everything was going well. Here I mixed up the coconut with the liquids. This recipe is interesting because it contains coconut cream. It's the stuff that you mix in with pina coladas and can be found by the mixed drinks. It's also expensive at $4 a can at my local Safeway.

I shaped them and then popped them into the oven. They aren't very uniform. Halfway through, I tried to be creative and started shaping them in different ways. In the end, they still looked like non uniform macaroons.

I tried one, and to be honest, I wasn't very impressed. There was a distinct coconut flavor to them, but I'm not really sure I liked it. I wasn't comfortable sharing them with the poker crowd. So to make them presentable, I dipped them in dark chocolate.

Ah chocolate. My friend. My first love. The macaroons were now quite good. The chocolate enhanced them and I felt they were good enough to share.

Next time, I might try a hybrid of these macaroons with the Ina macaroons just as an experiment. Mr. Cupcake said they weren't good for poker because the chocolate melted in his hand. Fine, no more macaroons for the poker crowd.

Baking Illustrated Coconut Macaroons
Makes about 48

1 cup cream of coconut
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cups sweetened flaked or shredded coconut

Modified recipe if unsweetened coconut is not available (this is what I used).
6 cups of sweetened coconut
1/2 cup of cream of coconut instead of full cup
omit corn syrup
toss 2 tablesppons cake flour into the coconut before adding the liquid ingredients.

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower - middle positions and heat the overn to 375 degrees. Line the 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk together the cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Combine the unsweetened and sweetened coconut in a large bowl; toss together, breaking up clumps with your fingertips. Pour the liquid ingredients into the coconut and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.
3. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the prepared sheets, spacking them about 1 inch apart. Form the cookies into loose haystacks with your fingertips, moistening your hands with water as necessary to prevevnt sticking. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.
4. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets upntil slightly set, about 2 minutes; remove to a wire rack with a wide metal spatula.

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