Thursday, December 3, 2009

Monica Bhide's Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons Recipe

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I was going to finish the week off with leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, but after Thanksgiving dinner, then turkey pot pie, then curried turkey salad wraps, I'm done with turkey. Since I'm the ONLY person in the blogosphere who bought a 23.5 pound turkey for four people, I think it's safe to assume that I am the ONLY person who still has leftover turkey. So the rest is going in the freezer, and I'm moving on to Christmas cookies.

If you're looking for a unique Christmas cookie this year, try Monica Bhide's Saffron and Cardamom Macaroons. They're easy to make and are remarkably fragrant and sweet. Though I have baked with cardamom before, I have never baked with saffron. Like most people, I've always relegated saffron to savory dishes, but Monica has convinced me that saffron has a sweet side. Because of its floral overtones, it works well in these sweet and spicy cookies.

Want to share in our big, festive Eat Christmas Cookies event? Find out how here.  (Several Santa prizes will be given out throughout the event.) And check out the stash of Christmas cookies we've gotten so far. 

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Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons
Yields 35-38 small macaroons (I made about 20 larger ones) 
This recipe is from Monica Bhide's cookbook, Modern Spice.
Print recipe only here

1 (14-ounce) package sweetened shredded coconut
10 ounces sweetened condensed milk such as Eagle brand, from a 14-ounce can
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 small egg whites, whipped to peaks

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spraying with nonstick spray.

2. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, cardamom, saffron, and salt in bowl. (It will form a mixture that is not like typical cookie dough, but once the egg whites are folded in, the mixture will hold together.)

3. To whip egg whites, start with room temperature eggs. I like to add a touch of lemon juice, salt, or cream of tartar to help the eggs get to the peaks. Once you begin to whisk them and they reach the soft peak stage, stop. If you continue to beat them, the proteins will break down and you will have a soft mess on your hands. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites to the mixture.

4. Using a spoon, mold the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place 1 inch apart on prepared pan.

5. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until exterior is very slightly brown, the middle is still soft, and the bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes on a wire rack.

7. Serve at room temperature. These can be stored in an air-tight container for up to one week.

You might also enjoy these spiced baked goods from Food Blogga:
Pear and Cardamom Coffee Cake
Italian Pepper Biscuits 
Date, Fennel, and Pistachio Scones (Heart Healthy & Low Fat!)
Old-Fashioned Spiced Apple Streusel Muffins
Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans

Here are more delicious cookies made with cardamom and saffron:
Kesar-Pista Nankhatai recipe at One Hot Stove (Indian cookies with cardamom and saffron)
Spring Saffron Shortbread recipe at Mango Power Girl
Baked Oatmeal Cookies with Cardamom recipe at The Amateur Gourmet
Chocolate Dipped Pistachio and Cardamom Cookies recipe at Lex Culinaria

For more about Monica Bhide's latest cookbook, Modern Spice, check out my review. You can also listen to an interview entitled "Our Insatiable Appetite for Cookbooks"with Monica and Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker.