It is the perfect season for coconut macaroons. They have no leavening. They have no gluten. If you are lactose intolerant and can drink goat’s milk, they may work if you use Mexican cajeta instead of sweetened condensed milk. I wish I could say they have no calories. Ah well, you can’t have everything.
Traditional macaroons are usually made from almonds, and some say that coconut is the poor person’s almond. I don’t know where that comment originally came from. As for me, I think I prefer coconut.
It is also said that macaroons were first created by the Sephardim. I don’t know whether that is true, either, but before becoming ubiquitous, macaroons were considered to be a North African/Southern European delicacy.
Sweetened condensed milk
Ready for baking
Macaroons cooling on the baking rack
A snack for morning coffee
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk or Mexican cajeta
- 2 egg whites
- In a large bowl, combine the coconut, almond extract and salt.
- Stir in the condensed milk to make a thick paste.
- Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then fold into the coconut mixture.
- Using a #50 food scoop or a tablespoon, drop the mixture into mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheets either lined with Silpat or parchment or greased aluminum foil.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes in the top third of an oven preheated to 325°F. until very lightly browned on the edges.
- Cool on a baking rack. Peel from the Silpat or the greased aluminum foil.
- Makes about 2½ dozen. Serve immediately or store in a container with a tight lid. (If there are any left.)
During our recent visit to Shreveport, we stopped at our old neighborhood haunt several times. The chicken-fried steaks, hamburgers, and fries were all tasty and much as we remembered them. But the main purpose of our frequent visits was to get a slice of one of their famous icebox pies. Strawberry is probably the most popular, but the fresh peach and coconut cream are not far behind. Although the names identify the fillings, the rest of the contents are very similar: a good down-home crust, a layer of custard, the fruit, and real whipped cream on top that hides the contents. To assist the serving staff, every pie has a slice of fruit plunked down in the middle of the whipped cream. You can buy a whole pie and take it home. Many folks do that, and we did, too, but an honest-to-goodness North Louisiana lunch consists of the plate special of the day, along with sweetened iced tea (Is there any other kind in Louisiana?) and a big slice of pie.
Sarah decided to create a new dessert for Rich Table based upon Strawn’s peach pie. Hers became a deconstructed version with dollops of custard and whipped cream topped with fresh peaches. Along side were pie-crust sables. It turned out to be a very sophisticated dessert that became a big hit the first night it appeared on the menu.
The deconstructed version of peach icebox pie served at Rich Table, San Francisco
My version is a little more straightforward: cream pie topped with fresh peaches and whipped cream. Since peaches are in season right now, it is a perfect dessert for a patio meal at sunset.
Fresh peaches from the farmers market
Peaches peeled and sliced
Peaches covering the pastry cream, ready for the whipped cream
Peach icebox pie
A slice of peach icebox pie
Almond Pie Crust
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup almond meal
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons ice water
Place all of the ingredients in the beaker of a food processor fitted with the metal blade
- Pulse several times and then process until the dough forms a ball.
- Remove the ball of dough from the processor and wrap with plastic film. It may be a little sticky from the heat of the blade. That’s ok. It will firm up in the refrigerator. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.
- When you are ready to bake the crust, press the dough into the bottom and along the sides of a 9 inch metal pie pan, forming an edge of dough on the rim of the pie pan.
- Pierce the bottom and sides of the crust all over with a fork. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 425° F for 12 to 14 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely in preparation for filling.
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 egg yolks, beaten until smooth and slightly foamy
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk to a boil and turn off the heat
- Combine the sugar, four, and salt in a medium bowl. Very slowly pour the hot milk into the dry mixture, whisking continuously to prevent lumps of flour from forming. As you add the milk, you can increase the rate of pouring until it has been completely added to the mixture.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and adjust the heat to medium. Stirring continuously, heat the mixture slowly until it boils and thickens.
- Remove from the heat and cool for a minute. Beat in the egg yolks. Then return to the heat, and return to the boil for one minute. Remove from the heat, and beat continuously for another minute, allowing it to cool slightly.
- Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and butter until they are completely incorporated. Transfer to a bowl. Cover directly with plastic film and refrigerate for at least one hour until you are ready to assemble the pie.
Peaches and Whipped Cream Topping
- 5 medium ripe peaches
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar (or to taste)
- Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 10 seconds and then cool
- Peel the blanched peaches and cut them into slices. Sprinkle with sugar and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
- When you are ready to assemble the pie, whip the cream with confectioner’s sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
- Spread the pastry cream evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.
- Drain the peach slices if necessary, and arrange over the top of the pastry cream
- Cover the peaches completely with the whipped cream. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.