What’s for Dessert? An Indonesian Spin On David Lebovitz’s Pineapple-Coconut Macaroons
One of the downsides to moving to Indonesia was discovering how expensive butter, cream and good cheese are here. So for months as I read my favorite food blogs, I sighed and told myself, “this recipe will just have to wait for another day.” Then one of my favorite food bloggers, David Lebovitz, posted a recipe for pineapple-coconut macaroons — not to be confused with French macarons. Pineapple you say? Coconut you say? It was a food blogging miracle. And the upside to living in the tropics? Having pineapple and coconut guys at the market, who also happen to be charmers.
The small pineapples sold in markets in Jakarta cost about 50 cents each. Every time I go to the market I buy one and have incredibly sweet pineapple for breakfast the next few days.
My favorite part of buying pineapples is watching the vendor skillfully peel and deftly spiral cut the fruit making it ready to slice and eat as soon as you get home, or on your way home.
In Indonesia and Thailand (and I suspect other Asian countries I have yet to visit), coconut vendors with shredding machines are easily found at markets. In Indonesia the vendors will quickly peel the brown skin off the coconut, wash the coconut and then they put it through a shredding machine.
Here’s a very fancy machine I saw in Bangkok. The machines in Jakarta tend to be much older and not quite so shiny.
Fun fact: You can make your own fresh coconut milk by adding warm water to fresh shredded coconut and squeezing with your hands. Shredded coconut does not stay good very long. I try and use it the day I buy it or the day after. Make sure to give it a good smell if you plan to store it for longer. If you plan to make coconut milk with it, don’t refrigerate it — a 70-year-old Indonesian woman gave me that tip.
David’s recipe called for canned pineapple and dried shredded coconut, so since I had broken both of these rules already, I figured I would improvise a little. One of the sad realities of Indonesia is that most of its excellent tea, coffee, and cooking products (vanilla, cocoa), are exported to the West. So when I asked a woman in the grocery store for vanilla extract, all she could find me was this bizarre powder:
I decided to cook the pineapple with regular sugar and then add an Indonesian cooking staple: palm sugar. I really love palm sugar and I now regularly cook bananas in it for a sweet caramelized snack. It is not as sweet as white sugar and has a taste similar to brown sugar.
From this point, I followed David’s recipe and combined everything as he suggests.
Once I had my macaroons ready to go, I approached my “oven.” Another downside to Indonesia? Very few apartments come equipped with Western ovens. But I’ve managed to make due with my box oven and the ticking sound it makes no longer scares:
Twenty minutes at an unknown heat level later, my macaroons were done.
So thanks for the recipe, David. I would have said hello that one time I saw you in Paris and thanked you for your wonderful blog, but I was too busy eating a crepe with salted caramel.
Happy cooking to all!