I tried going to a local cuban bakery, El Brazo Fuerte, here in Miami, but the macaroons weren't what I was looking for. They were good, but they were the flourless kind and I had a craving to dive into some nice, soft yumminess! So...today after surfing online, I found this beauty and made a few tweaks. ABSOLUTE PERFECTION, friends! I promise!
Spanish - http://foro.univision.com/univision/board/messageboard.id=cocinadepuertorico&message.id=5585
English - http://www.ricanrecipes.com/recipes/detail.php?category_id=23&id=88.
For the sugar, go to your local Southeast Asian market (Battambong or Sahath By in Chesterfield, Horsepen and Rigsby Rd area markets off of W. Broad in West W. End--I recommend Far East, which is in the middle area across from Pho So 1) and ask for Palm Sugar. If they don't know what you're talking about, just look around. I promise, they have it. It's like $2 something in the pack and maybe a little more in the jar. Yes, it makes a HUGE difference in the flavor. It's rich with a great depth of flavor, like nothing you've ever tasted before and brown sugar won't cut it. Anyhow, read the back of the packet and make sure all it says is "palm sugar" or "coconut sugar." Basically, you just want to be sure that it's the real deal natural stuff.
Soooo...what I was getting at is that the change I made to the macaroon recipe is that you use 1/2 cup palm/coconut sugar (same thing) and and 1/2 cup white sugar. Break up the palm sugar (you want it in block form, not jarred) with a fork or grate it (don't do a pressed/packed measure), then mix it up with the white sugar, using the fork to break up the palm sugar more and mix it with the white. Other than that, just use 1/2 tsp vanilla instead of 1/4 and there you go!! These are soooo good!! The palm sugar gives them an amazing texture. You'll get a little crunch on the edges, but a nice one!!! I'm sure you could get a similar effect with brown sugar, but the taste will be soooo different, and perhaps a bit too dark for the coconut flavor and you might overpower it. But...try, if you wish. If you try it, write back to let me know how it turns out or if you made any changes.
Baking in a glass dish is best if you don't want the crust, in other words, if you want the more traditional softness. But, guys, I'm telling you, the way I did them in the oven in a metal pan was a really tasty change. The bottom had a thin, lightly crispy crust, and a very slight crust on the top from the palm sugar, and the inside was warm and soft.
As far as bagged coconut goes, you get what you pay for. Go for the gold on this one and use Baker's brand. It's a lot more moist than others. You'll use a full 14 0z bag of Baker's.
This recipe is from Puerto Rico, so when they say brown sugar (azucar marron o azucar negra), what they're referring to is not the sticky molasses kind that's popular in the contiguous States. Rather, what they are referring to is turbinado or raw sugar (also known as demarara), which is abundant and much more affordable than refined sugars in much of the Caribbean. Brown sugar is preferred for use in desserts and coffee throughout the region, while white is only used for things such as juices and other drinks that would otherwise be altered by the flavor of raw sugar.
*The English version of the recipe says to use lemon, but it has been mistranslated. The Spanish version specifies lime, and that's what I used. Both work, but there's a widespread preference for lime in the Caribbean and it's really nice in this recipe.
*Best if consumed within 3-4 days.
What on EARTH is palm sugar, you ask?