It’s such an accepted fact that it hardly seems worth saying, but one of the hardest things about growing older is that it’s easy to grow apart.
The lovely lady pictured below is named Anne, and I’ve known her almost my entire life. She’s a wizard at producing bizarre sound effects, all of her apartments over the years have resembled tiny museums of natural history (complete with a diverse menagerie of pets), and she assigns the world’s most embarrassing nicknames to all of her friends, then employs them both loudly and publicly. And I love this tough little cookie to bits.
For the last five-and-a-half years, we’ve lived in different cities. We do what most friends do to stay in touch — email and call. But we’ve also sent each other postcards and letters, and receiving those little jewels in the mail has always made my day. But the truth of the matter is that no phonecall, no email, and even no letter can really come close to how lovely it is to see her in person. So in January, I paid her a little visit.
Her apartment is so lovely. It’s full of paintings by her and her friends, ornithology books galore, framed pressed flowers, little jars of sand, and “After Paradise” — the most beautiful poem — by Milosz on the wall.
For as long as I have been baking, I’ve been baking with this girl. She was there during the early days when I ruined boxed cake mixes, and mixed up the quantities of flour and oats in what must have been the driest batch of cookies known to mankind. One fateful Easter, we thought we could make chocolate-covered marzipan candies together. We burned the chocolate twice and then the final time it never set, the filling had the texture of wet sand, and they looked like terrible little brown noses.
Haha, I would like to think we’ve come a long way since those days, and hopefully these macaroons are the proof. We whipped them up together in the evening, and they hardly even made it to the chocolate-dipping stage before they were devoured. But it must be said: we tried to pipe the macaroon mixture out of a ziplock bag, only to discover that, once again, we seemed to be making little noses. Thankfully, this time, we smoothed the problem out before the cookies made it to the oven.
Also, though we tried to take photos along the way, a little visitor kept hogging the stage:
Anyway, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m not grateful for the long way that communication technology has come in such a short space of time. I depend on these tools to keep in touch with the people I love, but the truth of the matter is that there’s no substitute for seeing each other in person, whipping a few egg whites by hand, and then scarfing down a few (dozen) cookies over tea.
Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons
(Makes about two dozen cookies)
- 5 cups of sweetened dessicated coconut
- 6 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 200g of dark or semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 Tbs butter
1. Preheat your oven the 350F. Grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets and set aside.
2. Nobody likes to choke on a chunk of coconut, so you should pulse the coconut a few times in a food processor. We didn’t happen to have one, so Anne very kindly pulsed it cup-by-cup in the coffee grinder.
3. Place the egg whites in a large, clean bowl and ensure there’s no yolk or shell in them whatsoever. If you’ve never learned how to separate eggs before, now’s the time. (You can use the leftover yolks to make custards, fruit curds, or diet-unfriendly-but-delicious scrambled eggs.) Beat the whites until soft and foamy. Slowly sprinkle the sugar overtop, and beat until white, opaque, and slightly stiff. If you make a soft peak, it should keep its shape.
4. Sprinkle the salt overtop, and then very gently fold in the coconut.
5. Spoon the batter in heaped tablespoons onto the baking sheets. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown. Allow the cookies to cool before dipping them in chocolate.
These cookies are best enjoyed in the company of loved ones you haven’t seen in far too long.