Tag Archives: coconut

The Sophistication of Goo

 A dispassionate tear of glucose, the refugee of macaroon mischief…

Six months of management classes at the Oregon Culinary Institute are successfully completed at a GPA I must admit I’m pretty happy with. I have a set of core business courses under my belt that will serve Essential Confection well.

The hammer is down. I’m now immersed in what I came here for, management classes notwithstanding. Baking and pastry, the creative love of my life for more than 40 years, is under way. Immersion, indeed.

Two to three recipes per day, ingredients scaled a day ahead. I’ve elected to come in an hour early each day to work ahead.

Macaroons, a super-slight crunch sheltering the sweet succulence of coconut. The texture of a great macaroon is a viscid al dente goo offset by the shimmer of a crunch.

Macaroons have an elegance undoubtedly arising from their French, Italian and Belgian origins where ground almonds were, and are, commonly used in place of coconut.

Instead of glucose, heavy, dense and very tacky, our formula called for corn syrup which has glucose as an ingredient but is lighter and a bit easier to handle. A simple recipe and technique that yields a brilliant result.

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Coconut Macaroons

6 oz sugar

6 oz macaroon coconut

1 oz corn syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp pastry flour

1 pinch salt

3 egg whites (1 oz per egg white)

Combine all ingredients and warm over simmering water to 120 degrees F. Allow mixture to cool. Stir before use. Scoop portions onto parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake for 12 min at 350 degrees F. Piping the dough into beautiful little pointed stacks is an option.

Confectionery Balance Brought Forward

Depositphotos_51227611_sKnowing my interest in quality confectionery of the past, a friend kindly let me page through two cookbooks from the early 20th century belonging to her grandmother.

Excusing the kid in the candy store metaphor, I found three recipes I can’t wait to work with.

Quality pics that truly represent these confections are rare.  Nonetheless, here’s a visual inDepositphotos_51227621_s narrative:

  • Cream Candy. Also, a family recipe of mine. The surprising juxtaposition of a cooked and pulled sugar-and-cream confection that melts in your mouth in a way no other candy does. Exacting to make. Provocative in texture; with a fineness of interior. Vanilla. Maple. Peppermint. Nothing like it in the marketplace.
  • Coconut Squares, Balls. The rich, chewy substance of coconut is refined with glucose and butter. Dipped in bittersweet chocolate. Delectable. The star of a dessert tray.
  • Opera Creams.  A Cincinnati influence is at work here. History says Cincinnati Opera patrons were treated to opera creams before performances. The velvety texture of soft vanilla cream is offset with dark chocolate of very high contrast and quality. It has no equal.

Each is more than worth the time, effort and patience required to refine and perfect. Experimentation in itself is pleasureful… shepherding ingredients into that which they can become.

Opera Creams

(reprinted as written from Lee’s Priceless Recipes, 1895)

Two pounds white sugar, 3/4 pint cow’s cream, boil to a soft ball; set off; add 2 ounces glucose; set on. Stir easy until it commences to boil, then pour out; let get 3/4 cold and stir it until it turns into a cream; then work into it 2 tablespoons vanilla; line a pan with waxed paper, flatten the batch in it, and mark it in squares. Set aside 2 hours to harden.