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Posted on Thu, May 31, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Coconut rum meringues - kitchen failures can inspire new recipes

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

Today is National Macaroon Day. So, of course, I'd planned to make macaroons. What else would you expect from someone who celebrates holidays for literary figures, religious events, food fests, and any other occasion that amuses me?

I had hoped to make airy and crisp macaroons, rather than the ones that are rounder and taller and softer (which are loaded with coconut, usually, rather than being primarily made of egg white).   According to Wikipedia: "A macaroon is a type of light, baked confection, described as either small cakes or meringue-like cookies depending on their consistency."  So I beat the egg whites, stirred in the flavorings, and baked away.

But instead of seeing delicate white cookies tinged with just a hint of golden color at the edges, holding their shape in lovely little circles, this is what I found when I took the macaroons out of the oven:

Groan ....

But I don't waste food — nope.  I don't throw things out, I simply re-purpose them.  I tell people all the time that if a recipe doesn't work out as intended — if a cake falls, if a pie doesn't cut nicely, whatever — simply toss some ice cream or whipped cream onto the still-delicious mess, rename it (trifle? crumble? parfait?), and move on as though this was what you'd intended!

And thus, my failed attempt at making Coconut Rum Macaroons turned into a beautiful fruit-laden Pavlova instead.

Pavlova is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with fruit and whipped cream. There are several variations on its origins, but it is thought to have been named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.  It is light, sweet, and utterly enticing.  It was a perfect way to put my pathetic little macaroons to a far more noble purpose.

And if I hadn't told you this little tale of failure and redemption, you'd have never known that even food bloggers, chefs, cookbook writers, and other culinary professionals have their bad days in the kitchen, too.

Coconut Rum Meringues

2 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon dark rum
1/3 cup ground almonds
Manischewitz coconut macaroons, crumbled (2/3 cup crumbs), part of a lovely marketing gift sent for me to cook/bake with and sample

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased foil.

In a large bowl, combine egg whites, sugar, and rum; beat for 3 minutes, until the consistency of paint. (Not an enticing description, but an accurate one.) Stir in the almonds and macaroon crumbs.

Place tablespoon-sized dollops of batter onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, until the macaroons are set. Let cool completely, then carefully peel from paper or foil.

Makes 21 macaroons.

To make Pavlova: Crumble 2-3 meringues into a bowl.  Top with whipped cream and chopped berries.

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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

You should visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.  And be sure to look for her monthly articles about holiday foods and traditions in the Washtenaw Jewish News.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.



Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.

sometimes things don't quite work out the way we'd love them to... being creative helps during those moments! Great to see that you don't waste food! For those wanting to learn how to create bakery-quality macarons i recommend the macaron master - enjoy!