As I have already confessed, I am basically pure evil – but that is not to say that I am the ultimate evil around our way. I would never dare to make such a claim… at least not so long as that honour remains in the steely grasp of someone whose name I shudder even to contemplate speaking out loud – someone whom I refer to simply as ‘Niece Number 1’.
Compared to her I am a mere flea on the hide of a mighty brachiosaurus. She is the evil Emperor to my Darth Vader, the Lord Sauron to my Nazgul, the Dick Cheney to my George W. Bush. And lately her shadow has grown even greater. For you see she has just turned 13 so she is now officially that most terrifying of creatures known to humanity… a teenager!
Her magnitude of attitude continues to grow exponentially day by day, like a colossal star building up to a calamitous hyper nova that will one day devastate all in her path – including me if I’m not careful. Part of me is actually looking forward to that ultimate day of doom, because at least then my suffering will be over.
Recently I was summoned into her Grand Audience Chamber, where she addressed me thusly:
“You there, old man!”
“Yes, Your most benevolent Highness,” I simpered, bowing my head until my skull touched the floor.
“Answer me this, thou grizzled peasant,” she sneered. “Why, pray tell, do I not see any macaroons upon my sliver plate for me to nosh?”
“Um… because I haven’t made any,” I explained.
“And why haven’t you made any?” she demanded.
“Because you didn’t ask me to,” I replied, fear choking my words into a whimper.
“I should not have to ask you!” she erupted. “You should anticipate my every whim and bring it into reality without me having to waste my precious breath speaking to the likes of you. Now get baking before I squash your spineless body into oblivion, you worm!”
So I cringed my way back into the kitchen where I commenced to prepare the following recipe:
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A large bowl
- An electric mixer
- A stiff rubber spatula
- Silicone or baking paper
- A large baking tray
- A cooling rack
- A spring action ice cream scoop approximately 5 to 6cm in diameter
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
- 100 grams of caster sugar
- 30 grams of ground almonds
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
- 250 grams of shredded or dessicated coconut
- 200 grams of condensed milk
- 125 grams of glacé cherries, chopped
This is a hybrid of two recipes for plain coconut macaroons to which I added chopped glacé cherries to turn them into cherry macaroons. One part of the recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, from whom I go the idea of adding the condensed milk. However, the bulk of the recipe comes from none other than The Gella. I have decided that this is how we in the cheffing community should refer from now on to Nigella Lawson… possibly adding the phrase ‘Aw yeah!’ in a Barry White voice.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
We start off by separating two eggs. And by that I don’t mean taking two eggs and putting them on opposite sides of the table. Stop being such a smart Alec. What I mean is that we separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, and it is the eggs whites we will be needing for this recipe.
Separating eggs is one of those kitchen chores that can seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really a breeze. All you do is crack the egg shell in half against the edge of a bowl or with the blunt spine of a heavy bladed knife. Holding the cracked egg over a bowl, pass the egg back and forth between the two halves of the shell and let the egg white dribble out. Make sure to keep the yolk in the shell. If you get any yolk in your white, you will not be able to whip the mixture into a meringue, which is what we will be doing shortly. If you get any bits of egg shell into the egg whites, the best way to remove them is to fish them out with a larger piece of empty egg shell – it’s a lot more effective that using a teaspoon. You can put the yolks in a zip lock bag and freeze them. They will keep quite well in the deep freeze and you can thaw them out later to use in a custard or a sauce – waste not, want not…
Now that we have our egg whites, the next thing we do is whisk them very briefly until they just start to get frothy. Then we add the cream of tartar. This acts as a stabiliser for the meringue:
We whisk with the electric mixer until the egg whites get to the soft peak stage, when they should just start to droop off the beaters of the whisk like so:
Add the caster sugar to the egg whites a little at a time, in stages of no more than a couple of teaspoons, and whisk after each addition. Don’t be tempted to rush this step – perfection requires patience:
When you have finished adding all the sugar, you should end up with a glossy white mixture like creamy marshmallow. If the meringue has not reached the stiff peak stage by now, continue to whisk until it does:
Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Use your ice cream scoop to dig out mounds of the mixture and drop them onto the tray so that they form a series nice dome shapes about the size of a satsuma:
I felt quite proud of the work I did with these macaroons, and as I bore the tray to present to her Majesty the Niece, I was confident that this would be the day at long last that I would escape my customary beating. However, I was woefully mistaken…
“What the blazes is this?” my niece shrilled with outrage.
“They are the macaroons you ordered, oh great one,” I trembled.
“I hate coconut cherry macaroons!” she thundered. ” I wanted those posh French macaroons; the ones they sell in Paris for seven grand. You have incurred my wrath!”
And then she set about thrashing me to within an inch of my life with her diamond studded baseball bat.
I am in hospital now, recovering from my injuries with the aid of metal braces bolted onto my shattered bones. Which are going to be terribly inconvenient the next time I go through the metal detectors at the airport; but it’s my own fault. That’s what I get for displeasing ‘Niece Number 1’….