Hubs and I were born and raised in Florida – home to crazy alligators, blood-thirsty mosquitoes, and almost unbearable humidity. Of course, Florida does have a few things going for it (beautiful beaches, rivers and fresh-water springs; world-renown theme parks and attractions; and the best university in the USA – the University of Florida. Go Gators!).
Florida is also home to Publix Grocery Stores. Publix is so wonderful the chain had expanded to other nearby southern states including a few (but not nearly enough) stores in North Carolina where we live now. Growing up, I took Publix for granted. I figured all grocery stores were the same. Now I realize that Publix is unique among grocery chains. And I miss Publix’s wide selection, excellent generics, polite employees, and (I really miss) their phenomenal baked goods.
Hubs and I have chosen an appropriately Florida-centric colors+theme for our daughter’s first birthday party – pink and green alligators in the Swamp. Planning her party has me feeling especially nostalgic about the Publix bakery. I wish we could just walk in and grab one of their amazing birthday cakes (oh my goodness their buttercream frosting is everything!). As it stands, I’ll be baking her cake and the party cupcakes myself (I love to bake but it will be more stressful due to family we’ll be entertaining that week and given the other menu items I’ll also have to prepare). I also regret that I can no longer just run down to nearest local grocer and grab a couple dozen amazing Publix fresh-baked cookies for her party. My favorite Publix baked goods are their cookies, especially their coconut macaroons. These cookies are like a decadent slice of Florida in a super-sweet, extremely moist and huge cookie. Crispy underneath and chewy in the center, packed with intensely satisfying coconut-ty flavor and a kiss of almond, Publix macaroons may, in fact, be my favorite cookie of all time.
I’ve eaten many (many) Publix macaroons over the years. But I haven’t enjoyed one for several years now. Not only because their are so few Publix stores in our area, but because I’m keenly aware that those cookies are on the unhealthier side – full of refined sugars (and possibly even sweetened condensed milk). According to the nutritional and allergen info provided by Publix (here), their macaroons contain a whole laundry list of allergens – dairy, soy, wheat/gluten and tree nuts (as well as egg whites which along with coconut is the foundation of any macaroon recipe).
My recipe also contains egg whites but none of the other unpleasant, allergenic stuff. They’re whipped up pretty quickly. And this recipe makes a lot, nearly twice as many macaroons as most of the recipes I found online (most recipes you’ll find make about 18 cookies) so I was able to make half plain and half with Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips. Most importantly, everyone in our house loves them! My chocoholic mother even said she prefers the macaroons without chocolate chips. I like them both ways and predict your family will as well.
• 4 Cups shredded unsweetened coconut
• 1 cup coconut sugar
• 1/4 cup local honey (preferably raw) or additional ½ cup coconut sugar
• ¼ tsp. Pure Stevia Extract (optional)
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
• 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. cream of tarter
• 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• ½ tsp. almond extract (scant, this is strong stuff, so don’t overdo it)
• 1 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate mini chips (optional but yummy)
• Small and large mixing bowls
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Hand mixer or stand-up mixer
• 2 Large baking sheets
• Parchment paper or 2 sil-pat sheets
• Silicone spatula or “spoonula”
• 1 oz. Cookie scoop
1. Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit (149° Celsius), and cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Then set prepped pans aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut, baking soda, tapioca starch, Stevia (if using) and sugar.
3. Put egg whites and salt into a separate very clean non-reactive bowl (ceramic works well). Be sure to save those healthful yolks for later use.
4. Using a hand mixer or stand-up mixer. Beat egg whites on HIGH setting until foamy. Then add vanilla and almond extracts.
5. Continue beating egg whites on HIGH until they reach soft peaks. Then add food coloring if desired. Beat on HIGH for another minute or 2 longer until egg whites reach firm peaks stage.
6. Using silicone spatula, carefully fold egg whites into coconut mixture. Take your time and fold in slowly (you want to avoid deflating the egg whites).
7. If using chocolate chips, add now using same silicone spatula. Gently stir until well combined.
8. Using a 1 oz. cookie scoop, scoop batter onto prepared cookie sheets about 1” apart.
9. Bake for 25-30 min in preheated (300° F, 149° C) oven.
10. Allow cookies to cool about 10-15 minutes before removing from baking sheets. And allow to (if you’re self-restraint allows).
~Makes about 32 macaroons
NOTES: I like to store baked and cooled macaroons in the refrigerator in a Tupperware or other airtight container. They’ll keep that way for about a week, but I anticipate that they’ll be eaten long before the week is up! And, stay tuned for more posts related to our party prep as we get closer to her birthday in October.
Wisdom for the Day:
Go back to your homes, and prepare a feast. Bring out the best food and drink you have, and welcome all to your table, especially those who have nothing. This day is special. It is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve over your past mistakes. Let the Eternal’s own joy be your protection! ~Nehemiah 8:10 (The Voice)
Read more here.
Beauty Resource of the Day:
These days, I am all about anti-aging. Sadly, I had some very aging-advancing habits in my younger, more foolish days including (but not limited to): years of visiting tanning salons, spending hours baking in the bright Florida sun and (worst of all) smoking. Now that I’m 40, those bad behaviors are catching up to me and seem to show on my skin. The following video from very beautiful Angie of Hot & Flashy describes her top 5 recommended habits for anti-aging along with product suggestions to help you easily make those tricky-to-adopt lifestyle changes. Angie is a role model for aging beautifully. Enjoy!