“T’as les mains chaudes?” Chef yelled from the main kitchen. I stood staring at the thick slab of marzipan in front of me, calculating the likelihood of “warm hands” being either kitchen slang or sexual innuendo and weighing the corresponding level of embarrassment an answer would yield.
The social equation took too long; Chef bounded over and grabbed my hands enthusiastically, “Froides, c’est bien ça!” I smiled with the relief of having won a competition without fully understanding the rules.
It was my second day working as an apprentice at Monsieur Chocolat, a chocolate shop in the residential 15th arrondissement of Paris. I had spent my first day using a metal cutter to punch out small round circles from endless sheets of pistachio and orange peel-studded marzipan. Halfway into my second day, my back whispered thank you as I stretched after pushing my emporte-pièce into the soft marzipan for the last time. I wandered into the main kitchen after tidying my workspace, excited in equal measures to begin my next task and to stand at a higher worktop.
I moved on to fabricating the orangettes, thin strips of syrupy orange peel dipped in a mixture of dark chocolate and caramelized almonds. Suddenly, half an hour after the question had been posed, Chef’s inquiry made sense: raising the temperature of the chocolate with warm fingers could undo the tenuous balance tempering had created.
On the final day of a five-day stint of this painstakingly repetitive work, Chef reported I had successfully dipped 15 kilograms of orange peels during my eight-hour workday. I changed out of my (formerly) white chef’s coat and checkered work pants, exhausted.
It took these coconut macaroons to convince me to temper chocolate for the first time since I left Monsieur Chocolat. Dipped in a thin layer of dark chocolate, these chewy mounds of coconut are the perfect side to a large cup of milky coffee.
Coconut Macaroons Dipped in Dark Chocolate:
Makes about a dozen macaroons
Before you start:
Keep in mind that you can definitely forgo tempering the chocolate and simply melt it. I recommend trying it because it gives the chocolate a beautiful sheen and a satisfying crunch to offset the chewiness of the coconut. Here’s a helpful article on how to do it.
2 large egg whites
5g vanilla extract
180g shredded coconut
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
- Preheat oven to 160°C.
- Separate the yolks from the whites and put the yolks away.
- Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in half of the sugar. Continue whisking to stiff peaks and add the rest of the sugar.
- Carefully fold in the shredded coconut until roughly mixed.
- Shape the coconut mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper by using a spoon or an ice cream scoop.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until the macaroons begin to turn golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet. Temper the chocolate or simply melt it.
- When the macaroons are cool, dip them in the chocolate and scrape off the excess on the side of the bowl. Place the macaroons on a clean sheet of parchment paper before transferring to the fridge. Leave the chocolate to harden for about 15 minutes.