Hi Y’all! It’s been a year since I committed to the idea of Yalla Sweets and I wanted to share with you all the culmination of that work. Here’s the first ever Yalla Sweets menu (just in time for the holidays)! This menu is a testimony to this blog and the years I spent learning to cook and bake and reconnect with the memory of my mother and the food I grew up eating. It’s a combination of nostalgia and Middle Eastern-inspired treats that are MY nostalgia. It is my goal and hope that these sweets bring you and the people you share them with real joy.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I REALLY adore the pistachio nut. It was one of my mama’s favorite flavors, so it was a major component in the cuisine I grew up eating. Thankfully, unlike many other foods that did not make the cut, pistachios scored big with my taste buds.
During one of my recent baking adventures, I decided to search around for cookie recipes that included pistachios. I happened upon one that was labeled as a Flourless Pistachio Cookie, but looked suspiciously like a variation on a traditional coconut macaroon to me. A happy discovery it was! Coconut and pistachios were a staple of my childhood and macaroons are one of my favorite treats.
I had never thought to make macaroons before this recipe came into my life. I know, like with everything else baking-related, there are hundreds of variations on this very simple concept; and we all know I like to keep things sweet (very!) and simple. The thing I like most about this particular recipe is that it allows the rich flavors of both the pistachio and the coconut to take center stage. There are only four ingredients in these little guys, and the other two make way for the bold flavors and textures of the star players.
The original recipe didn’t do much in the way of specifying the type of coconut or pistachios to use, so that’s where my preferences come into play. I opted to use roasted and salted pistachios because they have a greater depth of flavor. The salt gives a nice balance to the sweetness from the coconut and the powdered sugar. I probably would have added an extra tablespoon or so of egg white, but as is, this recipe is pretty solid. I also used a combo of dessicated (medium grate, unsweetened) coconut and shredded, sweetened coconut to help with texture and the level of sweetness. You can use whichever you desire, but I like things a bit on the sweeter side.
I’ve linked the original recipe above, and would be curious to hear feedback if you give them a try!
* 1 cup of finely grated pistachio, aka pistachio powder. (I used salted, roasted pistachio nuts.)
* 3/4 cup powdered sugar (Plus about a tablespoon+ for making the pistachio powder)
* 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
* 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
* 1 egg white from a large egg, room temperature
Note: I haven’t been able to find finely grated pistachio in any of the supermarkets in my area, so I make my own. Simply take about a cup of shelled pistachios and place them in a food processor. Add about a tablespoon of powdered sugar to help prevent the pistachios from forming a paste. Pulse away until you achieve the desired consistency. This takes a minute or two. You want a fine powder, though it really is up to you how fine you want to grate them. I like a little crunch so I pulse to an ALMOST fine consistency. Set aside. (This can be done in advance and kept in an airtight container in the freezer for months. Just use when needed!)
1. In a medium metal mixing bowl, pour in your coconut and pistachio powder and mix together by hand until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and combine well. Lastly, add the large egg white (whisk the egg white slightly in a cup or small bowl before adding) and mix gently by hand until the egg white is fully incorporated and sufficiently sticky. It might not seem like the egg white is enough, but somehow it manages to bind just right. If it doesn’t, just add small amounts of slightly whisked egg white until everything comes together. To test, you should be able to break off about a 1/2 tablespoon to tablespoon piece and roll into a cohesive ball. If that happens, you’re good to go.
2. Place mixture in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least two (2) hours.
3. Preheat your oven to 340F. I use a convection oven, so I baked them at 320F.
4. Using a large baking pan, place parchment paper down. (Don’t skip this step!)
5. Using your (clean) hands, take about 1/2 tablespoon to a full tablespoon (I wouldn’t go much larger than this) and roll them into balls. Place on baking sheet. You don’t have to worry about placing them too far apart as they don’t (shouldn’t) spread.
6. Place in the oven and bake for 7-9 minutes depending on your oven. Mine took 8-9 minutes. I like mine a little more baked, but watch for slight browning on top to know they’re good to go.
7. Take out of the oven, and let sit for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Wait until they have fully cooled before eating (they taste better this way, in my opinion).
Note: This makes roughly 15-16 macaroons, depending on how big/small you roll them out. As with most baked goods, store in an airtight container and enjoy for up to a week or so!
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