First Blogoversary Macaroon
Times flies when you're having fun and my first year of blogging has definitely been fun - not to mention hectic, exhilarating, frustrating, enlightening, maddening and exciting. I imagined that when the anniversary date arrived, I'd break out the balloons, toss some confetti and strike up the mariachi band. Celebration was in order and I envisioned a special post featuring an incredible edible to mark the occasion, or perhaps even a giveaway . . .
But Tangled is the name and tangled is the brain. In an alternate reality, I'm Incredi-Blogger, writing a post every other day while completing my memoirs (Part I, natch), learning several new languages and mastering cheese-making, beer-brewing and all manner of artisanal cookery. But in real reality, my life story can be told in four tweets, I write in the only other language I know (Ye Olde Terme Paper English) and the closest I've come to artisanal cooking is making pancake batter from scratch. It's no surprise, then, that The Big Day (October 23) passed with nary a single shred of confetti or a solitary note of mariachi music to commemorate the 365 days since my first blogospheric disturbance.
I simply forgot.
So much for the special milestone. But as my overworked patron Saint Expeditus might say, "Get off your lazy tuchus and get to work already!" Although it has come and gone, reaching this point really was a thrill for me, so I eked out a moment to make a sweet treat in celebration and gratitude for an awesome year. However, as many of you know by now, I don't just eat, I ruminate . . . and every dish in this blog is well-chewed until I can taste its Deeper Meaning.
Sometimes I Feel Like a (Coco)Nut
To mark the belated event, I went straight to a recipe from my cousin Ara in the Philippines. We met for the very first time last December when Mr. Noodle and I visited my mother's home province of Marinduque. During our all-too-brief day trip, we enjoyed wonderful Marinduqueno-style Filipino food such as adobong manok sa gata (chicken adobo in coconut milk) and kare-kare* [kah-REH kah-REH], a spicy version of dinuguan, or blood stew. Seeing my rapturous enjoyment of the native desserts on hand, Ara promised to send recipes for some favorite sweets, just as her mother-in-law makes them.
*Kare-kare is also the name of a better-known stew of oxtail and vegetables in a peanut sauce.
The first were macaroons - Filipino macaroons, to be precise. What's the difference? The more familiar confection is made with shredded coconut, egg whites and sugar, whereas à la Pinay incorporates whole eggs, sweetened condensed milk and flour. The result is a dense, chewy baked good similar in consistency to a fudgy brownie and with a super-sweetened coconut flavor.
Although it's been a while since my last taste of Filipino macaroons, I remembered enough to have certain expectations as the first batch went into the oven; what came out, however, were quite unexpected. Rather than the flat-topped treat of memory, these had rounded domes like cupcakes and were definitely more cake-y than fudgy. But they formed a beautiful caramelized crust above a moist and subtly sweet, coconutty interior. I was not disappointed in the least, especially when I realized that they were perfect for this post in another way.
Just like these macaroons, my blog began with certain expectations about what I would write or who might read it. I didn't plan on including photos and recipes, or giving accounts of my own cooking, but they are now important elements. I thought only my family would read it (under duress) but instead, visitors found their way to this site, came back for more and have since become friends. Just like these coconut pastries, Tangled Noodle cooked up in ways and qualities that were certainly different, but no less satisfying, than originally anticipated.
In the past year, I've learned so much from writing my blog and reading others': that cooking without a recipe isn't really scary, flash photography is the best way to ruin a dish and blogging should always be a joy, not a chore. More importantly, I've made many new and dear friends among you and it is your encouragement, support and friendship that inspire me to continue. From the bottom of my heart - thank you!
Now, let's see what another year will bring . . .
[Update 10/31/09: I am extremely embarrassed - I had attributed the following recipe to Tita Fuen, Ara's mom, when it actually came from her mother-in-law. My apologies to that dear lady for not acknowledging her generosity in sharing a family recipe! Please note that double asterisks (**) signify where I've made the appropriate changes to the text.]
Macaroons à la Filipina**
(adapted from a recipe, courtesy of cousin Ara)
Have you ever noticed that when someone shares a recipe, there's always an ingredient or direction missing? It's not deliberate - often, the person is so familiar with cooking the dish that it's difficult to write out what are automatic actions. In the macaroon recipe that Ara sent, some ingredients listed were never mentioned again; I can picture Ara's mother-in-law** missing a few steps because she's not actually making them as she dictates. Furthermore, the original yield was triple what I made here - no matter how delicious, Mr. Noodle and I can eat only so many!
In the past, when I dared not deviate from the written record, this recipe might have been set aside. But a year of blogging and blog-reading have nurtured my cooking self-confidence, and I managed to make it work. I adjusted measurements and guessed where those orphan ingredients might be added. While my adaptations are by no means perfect, they represent my continued progress from recipe-slave to (dare I say it?) intuitive cook. I hope you'll enjoy these macaroons as much as we did!
Yield: 1 dozen
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
heaping 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/2 can (or approx 4 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 tsp lemon extract
3 1/3 cups shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper cups.
1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder, then set aside;
2. Place brown sugar and water in a small sauce pan and heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat;
3. Cream butter, then add dissolved sugar and mix well;
4. Add eggs, condensed milk and lemon extract and beat until well mixed;
5. Add flour mixture and mix until just blended;
6. Add coconut and stir by hand until well mixed;
7. Spoon into muffin cups, about 3/4 full - the macaroons will rise like cupcakes;
8. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tops are golden.
Basta masarap! (Simply delicious!)
I have another reason to celebrate this past October 23rd: on that day, Palidor of Crazy Asian Gal decided to share her "I Love Reading Your Blog!" award, one of six(!) she recently received from fellow bloggers. If you're not familiar with her site, please visit Palidor and see for yourself that the only thing crazy about this gal is crazy-good food!
In fact (and by total coincidence - I swear), she posted a recipe a few weeks ago for Coconut Muffins, which uses coconut flour rather than shredded coconut meat. And if that's not enough coco-nuttiness for you, then please check out these delicious recipes as well:
From Mark of No Special Effects: a closer version of Filipino-style Coconut Macaroons.
From Divina of Sense & Serendipity: her Coconut Macaroon Tart is the featured guest post at Just Making Noise, a blog written by Ice Cream Social winner Mare!