Monday, January 2, 2017

Icing Macaroons!: or, Avoiding Christmas waste

It's a new year, and as everyone (who's honest) would say, "New year, same excuses!" We at A Book of Cookrye are no better, but we have finally gotten around to cleaning out a lot of things in the kitchen. And so, we found these!

Bags upon bags of leftover icing which we cannot throw away. We have lemon icing, cinnamon icing, cream cheese icing, and lots of other glazes and icings in various colors. We have extra icing from cakes, cookies, and other assorted confections, all bagged and frozen in case we for some reason need a very small amount of icing and had no powdered sugar in the house. You may think we should throw this out, but whenever we at A Book of Cookrye ever consider throwing away food that is not utterly rotted in the refrigerator, the though of food waste inspires this:

But we at A Book of Cookrye have wonderful news! Your leftover icing can be made into... these!
In the spirit of cleaning up, this is on a leftover Christmas paper plate.

And these are actually the best macaroons I've ever made! Granted, the only other recipe I ever use is the one on the bag of coconut, but these are better. We actually got this idea from Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery. One of the cake recipes has this line at the end:

Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie, 1837

"Whatever icing is left, may be used to make maccaroons or kisses."
Miss Leslie doesn't explain how one might make macaroons or kisses (which are meringue cookies- see here) out of icing, which is surprising since most of the recipes in the book are very detailed, without any annoyingly vague instructions like "Prepare in the usual way." In a book so detailed she even describes what to feed your hogs before she gets to cooking a ham, she just mentions offhand that icing macaroons can be done and says nothing more about it. But we at A Book of Cookrye always like a challenge, and so we figured it out!
And so, we present, a Book of Cookrye picture tutorial: Icing macaroons!

You will need only five things:
Extra icing from whatever you were baking (canned or homemade),
Shredded coconut  (sweetened or unsweetened, I can't tell the difference once they're baked),
Baking powder, and

All right, so obviously the extra icing you have (probably) won't be in a nice, even amount in cups. That won't matter, you'll be eyeballing a lot of the ingredients anyway. The first thing we will do is get all the icing in a bowl. Well, actually, the first thing we do is heat the oven to 350°, but then we put the icing in a bowl.
As a note, you don't need to save and stash icing in the freezer until you have a lot of it. The extra icing from one cake or a single batch of decorated cookies will be enough to make a nice-sized plate of macaroons- just right if you want cookies but not want a lot of them.

You may correctly think icing isn't supposed to look like that. I guess all the time in the freezer and refrigerator hardened it.  So, into the microwave with it! You don't want to melt it, you just want it to get softened.

Now, we take a whisk and flog all the icing together. There may be some hardened icing flakes that do not mix in- don't worry about them. If they don't soften and mix in before they bake, they the coconut flakes will camouflage them.
I didn't plan this, but it just so happens that all the icings were somewhere in the yellow-to-orange part of the color wheel. This will help your cookies come out a nice color, as opposed to the weird gray-brown you'd get if you mixed something like purple, green, and red. So, whatever colors you have, it will help if they're from the same part of the color wheel. If you do get some weird gray color, you can fix it by adding food coloring in whatever color it's already leaning towards (for example, if it's a blue-ish gray, you can add a lot of blue). You'll have darker-colored cookies, but they won't be the color of unfortunate rocks.

All right, we will now add the things that turn the icing into cookies! We'll start with the eggs. The basic unit of icing measurement we're using is the small single-layer cake (or about half an icing can). For every small cake's worth of icing, add one egg and one teaspoon of baking powder. As you can see, we have about enough icing for either a two-layer cake or a sheet cake. Since that's about two small cakes' worth of icing, there shall be two eggs.

When you add the baking powder, be sure to whisk it really well to break up any clumps.

We are almost done! The next thing to add is enough flour to make a dough. It's hard to measure out, so just eyeball it. You don't want to add so much flour you could shape the dough into balls, because that would make the cookies bland. But you do want it to be a lot thicker than cake batter. We're going to make drop cookies.

See how the dough almost holds up the spoon? And how it holds a shape but falls back on itself instead of standing up when you scoop it out? And how it's still really sticky? That's what we want. Now, we'll just dump in the coconut and we're ready to bake!

You can decide how much coconut you want to add. Some people like so much coconut in their macaroons that they seem like solid coconut with just enough cookie dough to hold them together. Others like to put in less. As for myself? I dumped in the last of a coconut package leftover from some recipe or another and decided that was exactly what I wanted.
Now, just drop this off a spoon onto a greased baking sheet. They will need room to spread. Bake them until they're golden at the bottom edge. If you're like me and forgot to turn the oven and let it heat up, the temperature for today is 350°. You can make the cookies small and dainty-sized, really big and American-sized, or any size in between. As you can see, we at A Book of Cookrye decided to make them big.  They took about 15 or 20 minutes to bake. If you bake them long enough to get really browned on top (as opposed to just the protruding bits getting browned), they'll be really crunchy.
Some cookies you can lift off the sheet once they're cooled, but for these you should get out a spatula.

And so, the icing that would have been thrown out has become... these cookies!

They'll be really crispy on the outside and soft in the middle when fresh, and soften completely by the next day. And these really are delicious. But you don't need to stash icing in the freezer forever- you can get a nice plate of cookies out of the extra icing from just one cake (or one batch of iced cookies). And they are so good.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

More Mayonnaise!

Mayonnaise has featured in a two more cake recipes than it should have on A Book of Cookrye. One of them also had carrots in it. In the spirit of ringing in a new year hopefully full of weird culinary perpetrations, we present with no further comment this picture.