Dessert for The Modern Spice Virtual Dinner Party: Monica Bhide’s Saffron Coconut Macaroons

Monica’s macaroons are soft, sweet and surprising – at least they were to me, since I’d never used saffron and cardamom together in a dessert.  In fact, I don’t think I’d ever used saffron for a sweet.  The recipe is exceedingly simple and, as I found out, forgiving.  While I often sound like a broken record admonishing cooks to read through recipes twice before making them, I read through this recipe only once and in the one time misread the measurements for the sweetened condensed milk and used the whole can!  In a written confession to Monica, I said that I realized I’d made a mistake, but that the macaroons still seemed fine to me. 

“The recipe appears to be very forgiving,” I wrote, and Monica answered, “You actually caught the heart of the book – every recipe in the book is VERY forgiving.  Just like the cuisine.  A little bit of this or that won’t harm anything.” 

As someone who loves playing around, you can guess how appealing this was to me.

You’ll find the full dinner party on Monica’s site on June 22.  You’ll find Modern Spice here.  And you’ll find the recipe for Saffron Coconut Macroons below.  I know you’ll read it twice and I also know you’ll have fun making it.

From Modern Spice by Monica Bhide

Yield: 35-38 small macaroons
Cook Time: 30 minutes (plus 30 minutes to cool)

1 (14 oz) package shredded sweetened coconut
10 oz. sweetened condensed milk from a 14 oz can (I like Eagle brand) (Note from me – this measures out as a scant cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 small egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks (Note from me – you can use the whites from medium or large eggs; Monica told me she just doesn’t want you to use extra-large or jumbo egg whites)

1. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spraying with nonstick spray.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, saffron, cardamom and salt in a bowl.  It will form a mixture that is not like typical cookie dough.  But once the egg whites are folded in, the mixture will stay together during baking.
4. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
5. Using a spoon, mold the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place 1 inch apart on the prepared pan.
6. Bake the macaroons for about 14-16 minutes until the exterior is very slightly brown, the middle is still soft and the bottoms begin to turn golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven.  Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  (Note from me – I cooled the macaroons on the baking sheet because they were too fragile to move while they were hot.)
8. Serve at room temperature.  These can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.