Coconut Macaroons

Cookies are medicine.

No, they can’t cure appendicitis or pleurisy, but they do make us feel better. As with everything in life, moderation is key. As Easter and Passover approach, my prescription is to eat two of these coconut-y confections and call me in the morning.

Why macaroons have come to be associated with the spring holidays of Easter and Passover is anyone’s guess. They don’t contain any leavening and can easily be made kosher. Maybe their fluffy, white appearance reminded someone of lambs? Who knows.

What I do know is that they are quite different from the nut-based versions you get at the end of the meal at the Duquesne Club, and far removed from the petite, vibrant macarons you remember from that stroll along the Boulevard St.-Michel in Paris.

No, these are moist, slightly sticky little flavor bombs.  And in the early days of spring, they’re just what the doctor ordered.

Coconut Macaroons Recipe

(yield: approximately 24)

INGREDIENTS

14-oz bag sweetened flaked coconut

14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg white

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F
  2. Remove two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk from the can and set aside for another use.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix the coconut, the remaining sweetened condensed milk (which should measure a scant cup or so), vanilla extract, and almond extract till well combined, then set aside.

  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg white and salt until stiff peaks form.

  5. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg white into the coconut mixture until the mixture is uniform, with no white streaks.

  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then spray the paper with cooking spray. (I know this sounds odd, but you’ll need that extra insurance policy to get the macaroons off the parchment without mangling them. Trust me.)

  7. Using two spoons, form compact mounds of approximately 1.5 tablespoons of the mixture on the baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.

  8. Bake for 10 minutes then rotate the pans, front to back, top to bottom.

  9. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the tops and edges begin to color.

  10. Let cool on the pans for a few minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, using a small metal spatula sprayed with cooking spray. They’ll be a little delicate while they’re warm, so tread lightly. If they pull apart a bit, simply press them back together while they’re still warm. Store and serve at room temperature.

Adaptable Tips

These are adaptable little bites:

  • Try inserting a blanched almond into the top of each cookie before baking.

  • Or, you can add chocolate: either dip the bottom of the cooled macaroons in melted chocolate or simply drizzle some melted chocolate over the tops.

  • Almonds AND chocolate? You’ve just recreated an iconic candy bar in cookie form!

NOTES: For consistent size, I use a #40 scoop (known as a disher in the food industry) whenever I’m making drop cookies.  This not only ensures that the finished cookies look the same, but that they all bake evenly. Plus, it’s so much faster and neater than using two spoons.

Coconut macaroons can have sticky feet. I usually dust the bottom of the serving tray or cookie tin with powdered sugar to keep the cookies from sticking.

Recipe by Doug Florey / Photography by Dave Bryce

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