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COCONUT SARAS
from "Bittersweet" by Alice Medrich

A Danish pastry chef created Sarah Bernhardt cookies to honor that divine late-nineteenth-century French actress. My version was a tall kiss of light whipped ganache atop a soft almond macaroon enveloped in bittersweet glaze, more an individual dessert than a cookie. Now I've returned them to a dainty size and reinvented them as chewy toasted coconut macaroons filled with soft light ganache and capped with a crisp coat of pure chocolate instead of the softer glaze. And they are more divine than ever.

Makes 20 to 24 Pastries
 Bittersweet
INGREDIENTS (CLICK TO BUY)

For the Macaroons
4 large egg whites
3 cups (9 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 recipe Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling (see Recipe)
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped medium-fine
2 cups heavy cream

Special Equipment
Cookie sheets
A pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with a 7/16- to 1/2-inch opening
Instant-read thermometer

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PREPARATION

To Make the Macaroons
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl, preferably stainless steel (which conducts heat much better than glass). Set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 6 to 7 minutes. A scoop of batter dropped onto a cookie sheet should hold a soft shape without a puddle of syrup forming around it. Remove the bowl from the skillet.
Scoop tablespoonfuls of the mixture about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Use your finger to make a hollow depression in the center of each cookie so it looks like a little nest. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies — and any protruding coconut shreds — are deep golden brown. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.
Slide the cookies on the parchment onto cooling racks. Cool completely before removing them from the paper. (They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.)
To Fill and Dip the Macaroons
Beat the chilled ganache just until the color lightens and the mixture becomes stiff enough to hold its shape — if you overbeat the ganache, it will have a granular texture. Scrape the ganache into the pastry bag. Pipe a 1-inch-high kiss-shaped mound (about 1 tablespoon of ganache) into each macaroon "nest." Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is nearly melted, then remove from the heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely smooth. Wipe the moisture from the bottom of the bowl and transfer the chocolate to a very small bowl or cup. If necessary, let the chocolate cool to about 105°F. Hold a macaroon upside down and dip only the ganache kiss into the chocolate. Then turn the macaroon right side up, hold it over the bowl, and use a fork to drizzle a little chocolate around the edges. Set the macaroon on a tray. Repeat until all of the macaroons are dipped. Refrigerate to set the chocolate.
To Make the Ganache
Makes about 3 1/2 Cups
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is mostly melted. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes to be sure all of the chocolate particles are completely melted.
Stir the ganache until perfectly smooth. Let cool. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the ganache for at least 6 hours (I usually leave it overnight); it must be very cold or it will curdle when it is whipped. (The ganache can be prepared up to 4 days ahead.)
When you are ready to use the ganache (and not before), whip it until it is stiff enough to hold a nice shape and seems spreadable, but don't overdo. Overwhipped ganache looks granular, so watch it carefully: I usually stop the mixer early and finish the whipping by hand. After whipping, the ganache will firm as it sits (and even more after it is chilled), so spread it immediately. If you accidentally overwhip, or if the ganache becomes too stiff to spread, warm your spatula by rinsing it under hot tap water and wiping it dry as necessary. (The warm spatula rescued me when I overwhipped ganache for three hundred during the Tribute Cake adventure — so don't worry.)


Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
  Alderfer Eggs Grade A Large Organic Eggs
This product is currently unavailable.
 
  Baker's Angel Flake Coconut, Sweetened - $3.49/ea
 14oz
 
  Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream - $4.29/ea
 1 pint
 
  Guittard Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips - $5.99/ea
 12oz
 
You May Already Have
  Domino Granulated White Sugar - $2.79/ea
 2lbs
 
  Spice Select Pure Vanilla Extract - $8.99/ea
 2fl oz
 
  La Baleine Fine Sea Salt - $4.59/ea
 26.5oz
 
Estimated Total:  
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