I am a big fan of French macarons. The stunning colours, delicate flavourings and chewy textures… the only thing I don’t like is the price. Seriously. Considering the price just one of those tiny little delights retails for, I almost expect them to be diamond-encrusted.
Of course I appreciate they are a fiddle to make. I’ve had my fair share of cracked tops, sandy textures and uneven splodges to contend with, and after watching a recent episode of one of my favourite tv programmes “The Great British Bake Off”, I can see I am not alone.
Coconut macaroons are a very different beast, and something that are strangely Scottish. I say strangely, because coconut palms don’t line the shores here, but perhaps they come from the same tropical stable as pineapple tarts.
The first Scottish macaroon to cross my radar was a bar. When I picked up the packet, I though the coating looked remarkably like crumble, but a taste quickly proved me wrong.
The innards are a firm but smooth white fondant tasting of sugar, the texture of which is very similar to a Kendal mint cake. This is dipped in chocolate and toasted coconut, which mitigates the sweetness, but is a bit dry. I came away from it thinking “meh”, neither loving nor hating it. That said, now I’m looking at the photo, I quite fancy one!
My second encounter was heralded by the aroma of coconut and a queue of people patiently waiting at a stall at the Kilmarnock Global/Continental Market. I had learned about this occasional market a few days previously, and had persuaded T to come along and see what we could uncover.
A lot, and I mean a lot, of cheese, as it turns out. I think we came home with over 10 different types. And in addition to all kinds of other things, there was a coconut macaroon stand.
The chap was baking them while we waited, scooping pure white dollops onto a baking sheet and loading them into an oven, then pulling a freshly-cooked batch out and serving them up.
They smelled heavenly. Rich coconut wafted through the air, reminding me of the scent of gorse flowers in warm sunshine. We got the last three from a batch and managed to hold off trying them until we got home.
They were wonderful. Especially as they were still a bit warm. Imagine loads of sugary, moist, desiccated coconut, toasted to a golden crust on the outside. Online research indicates that the recipe is pretty simple, just egg whites, sugar and a lot of coconut, so I really fancy having a go. Plus if you coated it in chocolate, I reckon it would taste like the most amazing Bounty bar ever.
Note: Top photo by H, bottom two by me.