Macaroons are light, almost meringue-like cookies that originated in Italy, France, and Belgium. They were originally comprised of mainly almonds, similar to the Italian cookie amaretti. But once North America got its hands on the cookie, by way of Scotland, we swapped the nuts for coconut and made it our own. The coconut macaroon is popular in Australia, the United States, The Netherlands, and Germany.
Macaroons are a favorite treat in my parent’s household because they are on the lighter end of the sweet scale, especially when homemade. Made this way, they are also highly customize-able. You can choose different fillings (chocolate & almond spread for my in-laws, lemon curd for my side), to dip or drizzle with chocolate, or to eat them plain (my Dad’s favorite way). The shredded coconut I use is a little bit drier than the common “blue bag” (Baker’s Angel Flake) brand, and I also supplemented it with a little unsweetened shredded coconut to tamper the sugar level even more.
Besides decorating these to be cute nests, the best part was getting to snack on the leftover sweetened condensed milk, a tradition in my family. And since I was making these at my condo, I didn’t have to beat anyone at rock-paper-scissors for the rights to do so.
I saw this recipe linked to in an Easter Dessert Recipe Round-up at Rachel Cooks, which led me to two different variations on Two Peas and Their Pod: Coconut Lemon Macaroon Nests & Nutella Macaroon Nests. My personal favorite was eating them plain, followed by the chocolate ones. It may have been the lemon curd I used, but the lemon versions were a bit too sweet. And, I almost killed my sister because I forgot that these were tropical jellybeans that had “strawberry” as one of the flavors! (She’s allergic to strawberries).
One of my new favorite drinks, and a go-to when starting the evening, is the Absinthe Suissese. It’s only fitting since it is a classic New Orleans recipe and I was born in Louisiana. The interesting thing is that I actually discovered this drink in a local Washington, D.C. bar that had undergone a renovation and menu revamp, Firefly through an article on Serious Eats.
Since the Absinthe Suissesse is off the menu at Firefly, the bartender knew that I had read the Serious Eats article when I asked for it.
The Absinthe Suissesse is a classic New Orleans recipe involving absinthe, anise, orange flower water, and an egg white. Harris relished the opportunity to demonstrate his egg cracking ability and remarks that it’s great with breakfast or brunch.
The Absinthe Suissesse—loosely based on the Suissesse Cocktail in Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em from 1937—was widely available in 19th-century New Orleans saloons. It is a classic New Orleans brunch cocktail (my kind of city!) that is creamy but light with notes of anise and almond.
The way we make it is even lighter because we swap out the dairy with almond milk. This ups the almond flavor and goes well with a dusting of nutmeg on top.
These cupcakes have four different types of strawberry in them – Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Lime Gin Compote Filling, Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, and a Chocolate-dipped Strawberry on top. Needless to say, my strawberry-allergic-sister got no where close to these. I made these cupcakes for a surprise baby shower that we threw for a co-worker. The cake was very moist, maybe even a little too moist, but I’ll attribute that to the liquid-y filling. I actually made these the night before and for once, a swiss meringue frosting turned out! Unfortunately, I chilled it overnight and it separated. No amount of beating or adding of powders could solidify it again. I took the remaining strawberry gin compote and tossed it a traditional cream cheese frosting which tasted just as good.
These cupcake liners are Martha Stewart. I splurged on a bunch of them because they were on sale at a local craft store. I wish I would have tried the liners before buying so many – these are not worth it! You would think that Martha Stewart products for the price would be good quality, but these liners are equal or less quality than grocery store brands for about 6x the cost! This is a light, yellow cake with a dark purple and white liner and you can barely see the pattern. *sigh* I might be able to salvage them by baking a pastel muffin liner inside them, but I don’t know if it’d be worth it.