Sunday, June 13, 2010
Sweet Melissa Sundays: Chocolate Orange Macaroons
I often think about my Grandparent's small eat in kitchen. During our regular visits to their house throughout my childhood, we always spent the most time in that small kitchen. Eating or playing scrabble or cards. The kitchen was separate from the rest of the house, so there were no distractions from the television or other activities going on. Though the kitchen was small, it was cozy and warm. It welcomed you in to sit down and enjoy the food, games and conversation. A round wooden table took up most of the room and as I think back, Grandma had very little counter space to work with. But somehow she was able to turn out wonderful and comforting food for my Grandfather (and us as occasional visitors), three meals a day, nearly every day of the year. And she made it all seem effortless. Now that I'm grown up and have some perspective on the work that goes into making even a basic meal, I am in awe of how simple she made it all look. She didn't have a dishwasher either. We would wash the dishes by hand after each meal, with one person washing, one rinsing and one drying. Grandma always washed the dishes and she used the hottest, most scalding water you can imagine. When I was little I would use a step stool and rinse or dry, wondering how she could stand the water so hot. Anyway, I could go on for days about my Grandma...so I will get to the one that ties back to this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays post.
Well before I get to that, here is a photo of my brother and I with Grandma in her kitchen.
One of the most prominent memories of my Grandma were birthdays, and more importantly birthday cake. Grandma most always made chocolate cake with orange frosting for the family birthdays. I know she used a boxed cake mix, but I'm not sure how she made the frosting. I like to think it was homemade. But I do know that she used fresh orange zest to flavor a butter cream type frosting. Those flavors, chocolate and orange, are like magic to me. There is something so simple, yet unique about the combination. The chocolate cake was always incredibly moist and the frosting subtly citrus orange. Just thinking about it makes me smile. It's kind of amazing how a memory can enhance your food experience. Grandma passed away more than a decade ago, but every year I try to squeeze in a little chocolate cake with orange frosting. Usually I just make my own birthday cake so I can take a comforting trip down memory lane. To this day I jump at the opportunity to combine these two magical flavors together. So it is with great excitement that I tackle this week's SMS recipe for Chocolate Orange Macaroons.
Macaroons are a perplexing cookie. There are several types. The fancy french sandwich type with a cream filling (will get around to trying these out at some point in the future). The coconut variety and the original macaroon (according to Wikipedia) made from ground up almonds. I opted to go the ground up almond route given my aversion to the texture of coconut. I compared a recipe I had with ground almonds to Melissa Murphy's coconut based recipe and they were very similar. I halved the recipe (using 1 cup of blanched slivered almonds), 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 and 1/2 egg whites, the zest of one orange and 3 oz of finely chopped chocolate. I also added about 1/4 tsp of orange extract to give it a little extra orange punch.
My cookies flattened out a bit more than I hoped. I think I should have stuck with 1 egg white. The cookies looked a little bare when they came out of the oven so I dressed them up by dipping the bottoms in melted dark chocolate and drizzling some chocolate across the top. The absence of flour in this cookie recipe makes for a chewy texture. Almost like a soft rice krispie treat. The rich chocolate coating was a nice addition to these cookies and definitely took them to the next level. A perfect balance of chocolate and orange. They turned out delicious!
I package up these little goodies gave them to my Grandpa who turned 93 years old earlier this week. A little salute to Grandma and her famous cake. Doesn't he look fabulous by the way?
You can find the original recipe on Ellen's blog, Blue Tree Green Heart. Thanks for choosing this tasty recipe Ellen! You can see what other Sweet Melissa Sunday Bakers did by clicking here. On the roster for next week are Chestnut Honey Madeleines.