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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coconut Macaroons

I'm always on the lookout for a good coconut macaroon recipe, and this is definitely a great one. It is Alton Brown's Paradise Macaroon recipe (with minor modification), which was his contribution to Food Network's 12 Days of Christmas Cookies circa 2008.

Now, these are coconut macaroons, which are the most common kind of macaroon in the US, although I am sure everyone is also familiar with the French cookies of the same name as well. Why two such variant desserts under the same name? Well, it turns out that "macaroon" is a rather loose term: it can be used to describe a light, small cookie or cake(ish) baked good, commonly with egg whites, some kind of nut and/or almond paste, sometimes coconut, and sugar. The coconut macaroons are most common in the US, while French macaroons, also called macarons, are meringue cookies filled with some type of ganache or buttercream. People tend to use the term macaroon interchangeably for either the coconut or cookie macaroons, and while some people try to exclusively use macaron when talking about French-style macaroons, there isn't a universal convention for distinguishing between the two

These cookies are fairly easy to put together, although there is an egg-whipping step in the middle. Trust me, it is well worth the extra work.

First, combine the coconut, condensed milk, salt and vanilla, mixing well to coat.

Then, in a separate bowl, whip the eggs until foamy, the slowly incorporate the sugar, whipping until medium (aka firm) peaks form (the peak has a gentle curl to it when you lift the beaters out, check this out for a visual reference).  Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture:

Using a tablespoon or a #40 scoop, scoop out the coconut mixture onto parchment-lined cookie sheets...

And bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 until golden brown.

Take them off the pan and put them on  wire rack to cool immediately, and let them cool down completely. Then, you can melt the chocolate and shortening together (I melted the chips in the microwave in 15-30 second increments,stirring after each time, with the oil), and dip the top of each completely cooled macaroon into the chocolate.

Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle on some chopped macadamia nuts, and DONE!

I used bittersweet chocolate, which I prefer to semi-sweet, and it was lovely. But semi-sweet is just fine, and if you want more of a sweet Almond Joy taste, you can even use milk chocolate. And almonds, for that matter. But I love macadamia nuts with coconut, so tropical!

These cookies are rich and decadent, and the chocolate/macadamia nut combo on the top adds just the right amount of contrast and salt. The extra whipped egg whites gives them a slightly lighter consistency than the usual wet, dense macaroon, but doesn't sacrifice any of the richness and flavor. You won't be disappointed in these!

Coconut Macaroons

  • 15-16 oz sweetened shredded coconut (depending on the size package(s) you find)
  • 2 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 5 oz sugar
  • 12 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 oz vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz finely chopped dry-roasted macadamia nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Combine coconut, condensed milk, salt and vanilla in bowl, mixing well to combine
  3. Whip egg whites until foamy
  4. Add sugar slowly to egg whites, continuing to whip until medium (firm) peaks form, about 6 minutes
  5. Fold egg whites into coconut mixture
  6. Scoop coconut mixture onto parchment-lined cookie sheet using a #40 scoop or rounded tablespoons
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown
  8. Remove cookies/parchment immediately to wire rack and allow to cool completely before topping
  9. Melt chocolate (microwave is fine) and oil until smooth
  10. Dip the top of each macaroon into the chocolate, and sprinkle macadamia nuts over the chocolate before it sets
  11. Let chocolate set before storing and/or eating

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