I have talked before about my mom’s inclination to substitute ingredients in her baking and the frequently dodgy results. Sweets in my adolescent years tended to be hard as rocks, and as heavy. Of course we still ate them, but I frequently moaned about the obvious inadvisability of using recipes written for different ingredients (Betty Crocker sponge cakes really don’t work with wholemeal flour, honey and half the number of eggs!). In fairness to my mom, there weren’t too many cookbooks out there back then that catered to alternative diets – particularly not for baking. Ingredients then were also much more limited: flour was either white or wholemeal, sweet meant sugar or honey, gluten free meant rice cakes and corn bread.
Nowadays we are so spoiled with options. Now there is a range of ingredients out there with which to excite any palette or dietary limitations. Inspiring cookbooks catering to this broader range of ingredients are still relatively rare, but they are there. I have one in particular that I really love for baking: Leon: baking and puddings – book 3 by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbley. Aside from the great range of recipes (not all of which require ‘health food aisle’ ingredients), this book also offers a fantastic guide to baking ingredients. It explains (and demystefies) the different types of flour, sweeteners, fats, and rising and binding agents that are used in baking.
The recipe shown here from this book is for the best coconut macaroons I have ever tasted. They are super easy and work perfectly every time. They are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and totally mouth-watering!
- 3 egg whites
- 150 g caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 t honey
- 150 g desiccated coconut
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and pre-heat oven to 150C.
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a large saucepan. Stir all ingredients over a medium-low heat until well mixed and just beginning to scorch on the bottom. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Cook the mixture completely. Use an ice cream scoop (about 50ml) to scoop out 10 even sized macaroons onto the baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and set. Cool completely before taking off the sheet.