Macaroon Madness

My cousin Liz makes the best coconut macaroons; so good that she sells them made to order. Today we were finally able to bake a batch in my Sun Ovens.

It was pretty much a day of experimentation, mostly trying to find the best way to fit the most macaroons in the Sun Oven at the same time. Her recipe (which unfortunately I forgot to get from her) makes about two dozen rather large macaroons.

I went over to her house equipped with mini-muffin pans and a square tart pan. My plan was to use the muffin pans which would have each held 12 cookies, that was until I saw the size of the cookies. The mini-muffin pans were definitely too small, and, as my cousin explained, the macaroons are very sticky; any bakeware would need to be lined with parchment paper.

We managed to fit four on the square tart pan and popped them in the Sun Oven while we rummaged around her kitchen for another suitable baking sheet. The first batch of four was baked to perfection in 18 minutes, the same as in a conventional oven. That was good, but we wanted to fit more in at a time. We opted for standard sized muffin pans with paper liners. Unfortunately the macaroons stuck to the liners. They were still good enough to eat and we all had fun eating the stuck on bits, but not good enough for professional baking.

I see another day of experimentation in our future.

Solar Almond Apricot Bar Cookies

I like making bar cookies because I can bake a whole batch in one go. You’ll need two toaster oven sized rimmed pans for this recipe. Cross stack them in the Sun Oven to bake all the cookies in one go.

Sun Oven Almond Apricot Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup apricot jam

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat

Blend together flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, then add butter and blend until a dough begins to form. Transfer to a bowl and knead in oats and almonds until combined.

Reserve 3/4 cup dough, then press remainder evenly into the bottom of two buttered 7- by 9- inch metal baking pans* and spread jam over it. Crumble reserved dough evenly over jam, then sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup almonds.

Bake in preheated Sun Oven approx. 40 minutes. If you are baking both pans at once, the top one will bake slightly faster. Cool completely in pans on a rack. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, then lift out in one piece and transfer to a cutting board.

Cut into 24 bars.

*pans can also be lined with parchment paper instead of buttering them.

Solar Cookies All Day

The Sun Oven can do a lot, but not every thing. It won’t replace your grill. Sun Oven burgers would be more like meatloaf and steak, well I don’t even want to go there.

The Fourth of July weekend doesn’t have to be all about the grill. While the burgers and brats are sizzling away the Sun Oven can be on baking duty and provide some of the day’s entertainment. You could have an endless supply of freshly baked cookies. Trader Joe’s has some really good frozen dough that will make your life a lot easier or if you insist you can make your own. Bake them in small batches and let the kids help keep an eye on them.

If your guests have never seen the Sun Oven in action before, it can easily become the cookout’s main attraction; at least until the fireworks start.

Trader Joe’s Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Historic Cookies

According to Wikipedia, Garibaldi biscuits first appeared during a period of wartime rationing in the mid 1800′s and were named after the Italian general who led the fight to unify Italy; Giuseppe Garibaldi. They were first manufactured in 1861 in Britain and are still available today. In the U.S. they were know as Golden Raisin Biscuits and were made with raisins as opposed to the currants of their British counterparts. The U.S. version is no longer available, but the British one can be found online and in specialty food stores.  They were always one of my favorite cookies, not too sweet and with a slightly chewy texture, so I was very pleased to find a recipe for a similar cookie on the King Arthur Flour website not too long ago. I have since made two batches, the first time I followed the recipe to the t. The following has been tweaked just a bit.

Sun Oven Cranberry Orange Garibaldi’s

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Read more »

Solar Almond Macaroons

These cookies can be whipped up on the spur of the moment and you’ll have no trouble fitting the whole batch of 16 in the Global Sun Oven. I know, there are only nine in the picture; we ate some before I got a chance to take it.

Almond Macaroons

Ingredients

1 cup whole almonds, blanched
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg white
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch salt

additional whole blanched almonds, candied cherries

Preparation

Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Process 1 cup almonds plus sugar in a food processor (pulse) until fine, add egg white, almond extract and salt, pulse until combined. Roll mixture into 16 balls, arrange 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Slightly flatten balls. Press 1 almond or 1 candied cherry on each cookie. Bake until pale golden, cool on rack.

For instructions on how to blanch almonds click here

My Favorite Solar Cookies

Cookies are one of the few things that can easily burn in the Sun Oven, and fitting a decent sized batch into the cooking chamber can be very challenging. That’s why I usually stick to bar cookies. The following recipe was adapted for the Sun Oven from the 2002 edition of Gourmet magazine. The original recipe calls for a 13- by 9- inch baking pan which does not fit in the Sun Oven. Instead I use two toaster oven size rimmed baking trays (7- by 9- inch) and either bake the cookies in two batches or stack them.

Sun Oven Coconut Raspberry Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup raspberry jam

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat

Spread 3/4 cup coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the Sun Oven until golden, about 5 minutes, then cool.

Blend together flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, then add butter and blend until a dough begins to form. Transfer to a bowl and knead in oats and toasted coconut until combined.

Reserve 3/4 cup dough, then press remainder evenly into the bottom of two buttered 7- by 9- inch metal baking pans and spread jam over it. Crumble reserved dough evenly over jam, the sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup (untoasted) coconut.

Bake in preheated Sun Oven approx. 40 minutes. If you are baking both pans at once, the top one will bake slightly faster. Cool completely in pans on a rack. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, then lift out in one piece and transfer to a cutting board.

Cut into 24 bars.

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