When my brother and I were kids, a popular summer outing for our family was a day trip to Hamilton for a picnic at the lake. Although the drive between Auckland and Hamilton these days is pretty much motorway all the way, and probably takes about 45 minutes, back in the day it was mostly a single lane (in each direction) highway and the journey took the best part of an hour and a half.
Now any of you who are parents will know that 90 minutes in a hot car (there was no air-con in cars back then) with a couple of kids in the back (who are either intent on murdering each other before reaching the destination, or driving you insane with the incessant "are we nearly there yet?" whine), is no fun ... no fun at all.
As luck would have it though, round about the half-way point in the journey (that stage where tempers are running so high, I suspect that if my brother and I hadn't killed each other first, one of our parents might have been tempted to finish the job), Shands Bakery would appear on the horizon. Without hesitation, Dad would swerve off the highway into the bakery car park, whereupon we would all pile out of the car and collect fresh bread for the picnic and a large bag of coconut macaroons.
Now we would never normally be allowed to indulge in such a treat so close to lunchtime, but parents are wise creatures ... those coconut macaroons were so moist and chewy, and so big (each one about the size of a small child's fist) that one of those babies could be guaranteed to keep an annoying child quiet for the remaining 45 minutes of the journey!! Of course, there were always a couple kept in reserve for the return journey.
In adult years, I often think of those macaroons (not to be confused with macarons) - little mounds of egg white, coconut and sugar, baked until golden on the outside but still moist and chewy on the inside - and thought I'd like to make them. So when our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs turned out to be "Fill The Tins" (baked treats to fill the tins for the holiday season or to give as gifts), I was reminded of those macaroons and felt sure that Donna Hay would be able to help me out. In Fast, Fresh, Simple I came across Donna's recipe for Coconut Macroon Ice Cream Sandwiches. The macaroons sounded like they would fit the bill, but filled with ice cream probably wasn't going to work in the biscuit tin! That was when I got to thinking that a salted caramel filling would be perfect with the chewy coconut biscuits, and would make a delightfully indulgent treat.
I hope you enjoy these as a treat to spoil yourself with a decent cup of coffee, or as gift to spoil someone else.
Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Donna Hay
from Fast, Fresh, Simple
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
For coconut macaroons:
2 egg whites
2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
For salted caramel filling:
1/2 cup sugar
70g (2-1/2 oz) butter
1/4 cup cream
generous pinch flaky sea salt
Begin by making the macaroons. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (320 degrees F).
In a medium sized bowl, very lightly whisk egg whites just until slightly "loosened". Stir in coconut and sugar, and mix well until everything is thoroughly combined.
Scoop up heaped tablespoons of the mixture, and using your hands press the mixture together into a small disc. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and once all the mixture has been used, place baking sheet in the preheated oven.
Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Now to make the filling. Place sugar in a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan, set over medium heat, and without stirring allow the sugar to dissolve and take on a caramel colour. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream - it will bubble up vigorously, so be careful. Return pan to the heat and keep stirring for about a minute, until completely smooth. Add the butter and salt, turn off heat, and keep stirring for another minute again until completely smooth and butter is fully integrated. Pour into a small bowl or jug and refrigerate until cold and spreadable.
To assemble, spread a spoonful of caramel on the underside of one macaroon, and press another macaroon on top.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the wonderful treats my friends have been filling the tins with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.
I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand. Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats. This month, Sweet New Zealand is hosted by Alice at Alice in Bakingland.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, at Cook Your Books hosted by Joyce at Kitchen Flavours, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.