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During my first semester of graduate school, I took a survey course that looked at a variety of different arenas within my field. One week, we were introduced to acoustic communication and soundscapes. We walked around downtown Vancouver and were instructed to only pay attention to sounds: how it changes, what we seem to notice over others, what we choose to ignore, and so forth. The din of urban life can be so well illustrated through sounds: the loud hush of a bus as it breaks to a stop, the distant instrumental melodies of a street performer blocks away, and the occasional horn that interrupts the otherwise melodic flow of the city. It was fascinating to be able to experience a place that I’m so familiar with in such a novel way.

Smells have the same affect on me, especially when it comes to food. There’s something about smell that has the power to transport someone to another time and place. Paprika takes me back to the cobblestone streets and endless labyrinths of Istanbul that we explored years ago. Sweet, red chili paste reminds me of ddok bok gi – a common street vendor meal in Korea made of rice cakes in a spicy and sweet sauce – that seems to especially mark my childhood. And coconut, like I’m sure it does for many of you, reminds me of summer and beach vacations. More specifically, it reminds me of our trip to Costa Rica where my husband proposed.

And so, as an homage to the smell of coconut and the utility of our senses, I bring you coconut macaroons.

Coconut Macaroons
Adapted from allrecipes
I’ve never tried making the traditional macaroon recipe that uses sweetened condensed milk, simply because I never have it in my pantry. But this recipe uses ingredients that most people have in their pantry. It’s also a lot less calories than using the condensed milk version. The texture and taste are different but I assure you, it’s just as satisfying.

1 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the coconut flakes, flour, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl (either by hand or by mixer), whisk together the egg whites, vanilla, and flour until peaks form.
  4. Pour the egg white mixture into the dry mixture and fold in. Don’t mix too much otherwise you lose all the volume you created.
  5. Once everything is incorporated, drop by rounded teaspoons onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Then cool on a wire rack.