These Tonka Macaroons have the elegant, lozenge- shaped Ladurée look so terribly in vogue these days. SpecD’s earlier, 1.0 version, H.M.S. Macaroons had their own outsider style statement, almost punky with their spikey nugget silhouette.
This Tonka Macaroon recipe was whipped up (whip being the operative word) for a fancy-dress New Year’s Eve party where a true Parisian fashion sensibility seemed more appropriate.
While laissez-faire isn’t a pillar of haute cuisine (understatement alert!) it turns out that taking a more casual approach making macaroons is a secret of the smooth, chewy disks prized by afficiandos and purists.
Simply don’t beat the egg whites so much. Someone smarter than I could probably tell you when the first instructions to “beat egg whites until stiff peaks form” where penned. All I know is that is the “until stiff” mantra has real staying power. Yet egg whites need not be beaten into rigid craigs and ravines each and every time.
A few words about tonka beans (which are widelyl available for sale online): they are seeds from a South American tree, about an inch-long, a wizened black . When grated on a Microplane they release a wonderful musky vanilla flavor and aroma that works well with both sweet and savoury dishes. Widely used by chefs in Europe and South America, the FDA has not approved them for food use here because they contain coumarin, an anticoagulant. Just how much seems uncertain. I’ve found no information about how much tonka bean could be problematic for people on medication for heart or blood pressure ailments. So I always make sure everyone is aware of the presence of coumarin.
I took a Medical Botany class in college and recall that one cup of apple seeds countain enough arsenic to kill a person. Granted, the seeds would have to be cracked open to release the poison and when we eat an apple seed we rarely bite it open. And eating enough apples to make up a full cup of seeds is pretty far fetched. I’m just sayin’.
I did find an article in an Australian news site proclaiming Foodies Go Bonkers for Toxic Tonka Beans., but again no hard information on how much could be dangerous.
Click here for the recipe for Macaroons. Take care to whip the whites only to a ripple. Omit the vanilla and maple extracts and the food coloring and add 2 T. freshly grated tonka bean instead.