If you find yourself making things like rhubarb curd or the kind of ice cream that calls for custard, you will find yourself in possession of extra egg whites. Not that you were thinking of tossing them, but if that thought has ever crossed your mind, banish it immediately. Even if you are not the type to eat egg white omelets (as I am definitely not), there are many ways to use those egg whites. Put them in a little container, and if you fear that you will not use them up quickly, freeze them, with a note of how many there are.
David Lebovitz, the pastry chef, writer, blogger and author of that fabulous ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop, knows about the extra egg yolk conundrum. And on his site, he has a page called "Recipes to use up leftover egg whites." There are 15 recipes on that page, and I suspect all are wonderful, but I haven't been able to get past the first one I made--coconut macaroons. They are easy to make, delicious and addictive.
Lebovitz's original recipe calls for the macaroons to be dipped in chocolate. I am usually all for dipping things in chocolate. If there is a choice between chocolate and no chocolate, I almost always choose chocolate. However, in this case, I'm not so sure. The first time I made these, I brought them to a work gathering. Half were dipped in chocolate and the other half plain. To my surprise (because I have many chocolate loving colleagues), more people preferred the plain ones to the chocolate ones. The chocolate was distracting, almost, from the lovely coconut flavor. I've included his instructions for the chocolate dipping, but if you don't have the time or inclination (or are, heaven forfend, someone who doesn't like chocolate) know that these are fabulous just as they are.
The process is quick and easy. Basically, you dump all of the ingredients in a skillet and heat it up. Lebovitz says to cook until it begins to scorch, and I found that a little bit alarming the first time I made them, but it's pretty clear when they're done cooking. The ingredients are a sticky mass, and your kitchen will smell delightfully of coconut. At that point, once the batter is cool, you can refrigerate or freeze it to use at a later time. Otherwise, you put the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat and bake.
Mine were in for exactly 18 minutes, but I didn't check on them, as I probably should have as they are a bit over brown. Still, they are chewy and coconuty and delicious, and if there is a better way to use leftover egg whites, it might be a while before I find out!
Note: This recipe calls for 1/4 cup flour. Though I am not a Passover expert, I would assume that if you replaced the flour with matzoh meal, they could be a wonderful and welcome Passover treat. (These will chase the memories of macaroons from a can out of your mind posthaste.)
Adapted from David Lebovitz
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2½ cups unsweetened coconut
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
In a large skillet, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour.
Heat over low-to-moderate heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir.
When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
(At this point, the mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)
When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch mounds with your fingers evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool completely.
To dip the macaroons in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave.) Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the baking sheet. Refrigerate 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate is set.Approx. 30 cookies