I was thrilled when Monica Bhide, the present-day authority on contemporary Indian cooking, gave me the opportunity to participate in a "virtual potluck dinner" celebrating the launch of her new cookbook, Modern Spice. I have been a longtime fan of her work and am always eager to cook from her repertoire, the recipes never disappoint.
Since I do most of my cooking and baking while my daughter naps, it was ideal when Monica asked me to bake a batch of her Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons. They are chic enough for any dinner party, humble enough to serve at home, and easy to prepare ahead of time. As expected, preparing them was a snap. I simply whipped the egg whites, added a pinch of salt so they would hold their peaks, and folded them into the coconut mixture. I will admit, however, that I did take a small detour with my ingredients. Per Monica's suggestion, I chose to add a dash of cinnamon to my batter, since it is my favorite spice.
Once the baking was completed I let the macaroons cool before consumption. I should let you know that this process - letting them cool before eating - was extremely difficult. When they had been baking, my apartment had filled with the mouth-watering aroma of toasting coconut and warm nutty spices. I couldn't wait to dig in. After what felt like hours (it was, in fact, minutes) I finally took my first bite and was immediately transported. The unusual combination of saffron, cardamom and cinnamon woven with sweet coconut created a delicious layer of flavors that was bold, but not overwhelming. Unlike most macaroons I eat, these were neither too overly sweet or sticky. Instead, they had an amazing depth of flavor with a light, flaky texture, and were perfect to enjoy while I sipped my cup of tea.
I'll admit that I ate several macaroons in one sitting and, later, my husband did, too. He even agreed that I should start experimenting with the jars on my lazy susan to come up with new macaroon flavors based on Monica's recipe. I can't wait to get started. In the mean time, I will be making this recipe again shortly. I am hosting a dinner party soon, and am serving these for dessert.
Order your own copy of Modern Spice HERE!:
reprinted with permission from Modern Spice, by Monica Bhide
Macaroons are a personal favorite. I have added cardamom, a flavor I love. You can also try these with mild curry powder (1/4 teaspoon), ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), or - well, you the idea! There are no limits, only flavorful macaroons waiting to be tried. These can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Makes 35 to 38 small macaroons
Prep/Cook time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes to cool
Nonstick cooking spray One 14-ounce package shredded sweetened coconut
10 ounces sweetened condensed milk such as Eagle brand, from a 14-ounce can
1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 small egg whites, whipped to peaks (see Notes)
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spraying with nonstick spray.
2. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, cardamom, saffron, and salt in a bowl. (It will form a mixture that is not like typical cookie dough, but once the egg whites are folded in, the mixture will hold together.)
3. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
4. Using a spoon, mold the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place 1 inch apart on the prepared pan.
5. Bake the macaroons for 14 to 16 minutes, until the exterior is very slightly brown, the middle is still soft, and the bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.
6. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
7. Serve at room temperature. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
Notes: Don’t use wax paper when baking; it will smoke in the oven. Parchment paper works best. Use room-temperature eggs. I like to add a touch of lemon juice, salt, or cream of tartarto help the eggs get the peaks. Once you begin to whisk them and they reach the soft peak stage, stop. If you continue to beat them, the proteins will break down and you will have a soft mess on your hands.