I never heard of Cliff nor Buster. Never saw their macaroons at stores like Nieman Marcus. Not that I had ever gone into one. But if I did, the hefty price tag of $15 per dozen (in 2003) would have sent me heading for the door. So when I read that the great Oprah herself liked C&B's macaroons enough to share with her audience, I had to stop and pay attention.
Cliff and Buster is a two-man catering company in Chicago who provided Oprah with the most heavenly macaroons this side of Passover. The original recipe, according to Cliff himself, is made
I needed to make a snack/dessert for both the English as a Second Language graduation class (I am the coordinator) and for a librarian meeting the same day and thought that macaroons could serve a dual purpose. But when I checked my supply, there was only enough of the unsweetened persuasion, left over from last Passover (it was still good, well within its expiration date), to make only half of what I needed. So I made one set with the unsweetened and the rest with sweetened. Both turned out awesomely angelic! The one with sweetened coconut came out slightly creamier and only a tad sweeter than the un batch. So no need to hit the upscale market or health food store. Just use the regular ordinary stuff at your local Try-n-Save.
These babies are gluten-free (check individual ingredient labels to be sure), and, unlike most Passover macaroons, egg-free as well. Speaking of Passover (sometimes I really do plan ahead), I have yet to see Pesadick sweetened condensed milk, so if you want to make some for Passover, try this recipe for SCM and let me know how it turns out since I haven't tried it yet myself.
I like my lilies gilded, so I topped these babies with the optional chocolate ganache drizzle. You can omit that step, especially if you feed people whose only experience with macaroons is prying them out of a can. But if you want to spoil your family and friends for life, make with the ganache.
Oh, the librarian meeting was cancelled due to the threat of a nor-eastern storm. Which worked out nicely for the ESL class that met that evening, conveniently after the storm blew over.
By the way, I forgot to mention that these macaroons can be made in advance. Covered and refrigerated they last and last. Assuming that you padlock your fridge.
Cliff and Buster Coconut Macaroons
Adapted from: Top Secret Recipes
Yield: 18-22 macaroons
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
pinch of table salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. almond extract
1 (8oz.) bag sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut (approx. 3 cups)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Stir together sweetened condensed milk, salt, and vanilla and almond extracts in a small bowl.
Place coconut in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Use a spatula to fold in the milk mixture.
|This was the unsweetened batch. The flakes were|
not exactly finely shredded, but neither flavor or
baking time were affected.
Use a mini-spatula or small spoon to pack coconut mixture into a round tablespoon, then unmold onto prepared cookie sheet. Rinse spoon with warm water when the mixture start to stick to the spoon (I had to do this about every 3rd macaroon).
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Immediately remove sheet from oven and place on cooling rack. Macaroons may be a little fragile fresh from the oven, but will firm up as they cool. Allow to cool completely.
While macaroons are cooling, combining chocolate chips with the cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Nuke for 1 minute at half power, then stir. If the chocolate is not completely melted after stirring, microwave it again for another 30 seconds at half power and stir. Repeat if necessary, but avoid overcooking to prevent burning the chocolate.
Spoon ganache into a piping bag (or small freezer bag, sealing then snipping off a tiny corner).
Drizzle ganache over completely cooled macaroons.
|Drizzle the ganache or, as I call it, "going wheeee!"|
Let macaroons set at room temperature for 3 or 4 hours or in fridge for about 1/2 hour. Remove macaroons from parchment and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
Remove from fridge up to a few hours before serving.