There are few things I've made in my life which have generated quite as much interest in such a short time as these. It started out simple. My friend Catherine, co-founder of Luca & Bosco (omg, try their ice cream immediately), was having a bacon-themed holiday party. I was going to make a pork adobo with bacon, but then it was cold outside and I didn't want to leave the house. I had coconut and sweetened condensed milk in the cupboard, so I knew I could make some macaroons from The Macaroon Bible (awesome book, btw). But none of his recipes had bacon, so I I had to improvise. The result was pretty freakin' awesome. I even won a little prize at the party (aww, thanks). If you're interested, and I know you are, here is a recipe to try out yourself.Bacon-Bourbon Chocolate Macaroonsadapted from a recipe in The Macaroon Bible by Dan CohenYield: Twenty-four 2-inch macaroons4 tablespoons your favorite bourbon (I used Jim Beam -- no need for fancy stuff)About 1/3 pound thick-cut bacon (okay to add more)One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk1 whole nutmeg (optional)One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut2 large egg whites4 teaspoons kosher salt1 cup dark chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips would be okay too, but you really don't need to use premium chocolate)1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment.2. In a small saucepan, simmer the bourbon until it's reduced by about half to 2 tablespoons of liquid. Set aside. The recipe would probably work fine if you didn't do this at all, or you could start with even more bourbon and concentrate further it for stronger flavor like I did. You just don't want to add more than 2 tablespoons of liquid to the macaroon batter because it would be too wet.3. Cook the bacon as you normally would until crispy. Drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble the bacon into bits. Set aside.4. In an extra-large bowl, measure out 10 1⁄2 ounces by weight of the condensed milk. If you don’t have a scale, use approximately 8 ounces (1 cup) by liquid measure. Add the reduced bourbon and about 15 passes of the nutmeg over a nutmeg grater, if desired, and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Add the coconut and combine until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the bacon bits.5. Add the egg whites and salt (I added less salt because I was worried about the saltiness of the bacon) to the bowl of a stand mixer (or small bowl if you’re using a hand beater) and whip on medium-high until very stiff peaks form, 2 1⁄2 to 3 minutes.6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. After it’s combined, push the mixture into one big blob to make it easier for you to portion out the macaroons.7. Dip 2 spoons into a small bowl of water, shake them off, form the mixture into balls approximately 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter, and place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. (You can also form them by hand, but be sure to wet your fingers frequently.)8. Place the sheet into the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. After about 21 minutes, start checking for coloring. Look for an even, light golden color and for the undersides to be nicely tanned. These macaroons will darken a bit more quickly than normal, so keep a close eye on them starting at about 19 minutes.9. Remove from the oven and let the sheet rest on a cooling rack, leaving the macaroons on the sheet until they’re cool enough for you to pull off (about 2 minutes depending on how sensitive your fingers are). Transfer the macaroons to the cooling rack to let cool completely.10. Melt the chocolate in whatever way is easiest for you. I used the microwave oven. Transfer the melted chocolate to a small plastic baggie, snip off the corner of the baggie with scissors, and use the make-shift piping bag to pipe the melted chocolate on top of the macaroons in whatever design you see fit. You could also just dip the macaroons into a bowl of melted chocolate. Transfer the macaroons to the fridge if you want the chocolate to firm up quickly because they're better that way. But otherwise these taste far better when eaten at room temperature, so don't leave them in the fridge.11. The macaroons will keep at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, for about 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, and for a few months if stored in an airtight container in the freezer. Note that the bacon flavor is a bit better the day after, but they also get a little softer after sitting for a while.
It's that time of year again when all of the new Fall books start coming out. I get preview copies of them a little early if I worked on the book. But The Macaroon Bible is in stores now, and if I must say so myself, it's pretty darned cute. The author isDan Cohen, founder of Danny Macaroons. If you've never had the pleasure to try out Dan's macaroons or don't live in a city where you can pick some up (he does ship!), you might want to pick up a copy of the book instead -- they're just so good when they're still warm from the oven.As each new book arrives on my desk, I'm reminded of the photo shoots. The shoot for this book was about a year ago. The amazing Alice Gao (at the left) was the photographer. It was the first cookbook she'd ever shot. If you don't already know and love Alice's work, I have to urge you to check out her Instagram feed. All of the photographs in this blog post are by me though. Trust me, Alice's photos in the book are much nicer, and I urge you to check it out for yourself to see.The amazing props for the shoot were done by Kira Corbin. I'd just started working with Kira (to the right of Alice in the photo above) about a month earlier, and then we ended up partnering on four different projects all in a row. She's got a great eye for props, in case you couldn't tell from my photos here.And that's Vivian Lui doing the food styling. She's a great talent too. We had such a dream team of women on this shoot. Vivian is so careful about everything she does, while still being open to making changes if something wasn't quite right. If she can put up with me as an art director, she has to be a really nice person.And that's Chelsea Zimmer who assisted Vivian in the kitchen. I'll be working with Chelsea in the next couple of weeks on some other projects which I'm really excited about.Needless to say, everyone ate everything in sight on this shoot. It was such a treat. And there were so many extra macaroons, we were all bringing bags of extras home with us to share with friends. (Sometimes I have to slap myself to remember this is actually part of my job.) And remember, these are just my snapshots -- the photos in the real book by Alice are so much prettier.So if you're not drooling yet, let me say a few more things about The Macaroon Bible. First, making macaroons at home is super easy, once you have a good base recipe like Dan's. These never fail. And even more important (at least to me) is that macaroons are naturally gluten-free (except for two recipes in the book -- one with beer and one with pretzels added). I really don't bake at home anymore, but when I'm in the mood, these recipes come to my rescue every time, with just about every flavor combination you can think of, including these super yummy "sandwiches" shown in the photo just above.