“Exceptionally Good” Macaroons

My love of coconut is a new thing.  We didn’t eat much of it when we were growing up, so I didn’t bake with it much.  With so many other tasty options in bakeries, I would go for the good ol’ standby rather than try something new.  My attitude seems to be more “why mess with a good thing?” than my sisters.  I remember Sara made coconut cupcakes for little E’s first birthday and sent home the extra flaked coconut home with Marie who was visiting.  I thought, “huh.  Coconut?”  Slightly intrigued and yet since I was on the other coast during that birthday I had still not had the occasion to enjoy.

Last year, Paul sent me this picture:

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

It was a chocolate dipped coconut macaroon.  He bought this delicacy at the Mt. Bachelor ski lodge near Bend, Oregon.  It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from where I live now in Portland, so the treat did not make it to me for a sample.  However, he discovered they were ALSO sold at Kettleman’s Bagels, which happened to be in my neighborhood and in my work neighborhood.  These macaroons were the size of your fist, sweet coconut goodness with just the right amount of chocolate.  Wow.  Love.  Sometimes we’d split the macaroon sometimes we’d each get our own.  Occasionally my boss and I would treat ourselves on a particularly tedious Friday afternoon.  She’s a fan too.

I mention that Kettleman’s HAPPENED to be in the neighborhood.  Past tense.  A few months ago it was bought out by Einstein’s bagels.  Much of the locavore community here in Portland was up in arms with the diminished selection of bagels (a controversy that was dubbed “Bagelgate“).  They took to facebook indeed!  I, however, have mourned the coconut macaroons.  Resigned with the knowledge that the treats were no more, I decided it was time to learn how to make them.

I found this Alice Medrich recipe on Salt and Serenity via my good friend Lis.

Were I to do this again, I’d try with shredded coconut to be more in line with my original favorite, but as one recipient commented, they are “exceptionally good” macaroons.

Exceptionally Good Macaroons

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces) unsweetened dried flaked (not shredded) coconut, also called coconut chips OR 3 cups (9 ounces) sweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil Set aside.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

4. Using 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.

Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

5. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes and again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, you can lower the heat to 300°F.  I also covered them with a little foil because I don’t prefer them too dark.

6. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. If you plan to add chocolate, press a small piece of your favorite chocolate into the cookies while they are still hot.  I tried semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate – whatever suits your fancy!

7. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie. The cookies are best on the day they are baked—the exterior is crisp and chewy and the interior soft and moist. Although the crispy edges will soften, the cookies remain delicious stored in an airtight container for 4 days.

11 thoughts on ““Exceptionally Good” Macaroons

  1. There is a “candy” in ES (not sure if anywhere else) called “conserva d coco” w/ which I grew up when I visited & in care pkgs sent by my grandma. It’s just sugar & grated coconut w/ some color added for variety. No eggs anywhere! Some is made w/ what most Americans know as piloncillo if they’re familiar w/ Mexican cooking & so it’s a dk brown. Usually sold @ fairs, it’s not a usual thing but a treat. It’s quite dense & sweet & I’ve had a pc @ most @ a time ’cause even for my sweet tooth it’s too much!

    The thing is, it’s generally cooked for a good long while before it’s set out to cool & harden & the coconut flavor is INTENSE. I, personally, don’t like the coconut sold here in the US ’cause there’s a very faint taste that’s off for me. But then I’ve had the coconut in ES so it’s not a fair comparison, right? Do u think if I were to cook the coconut longer before add’g the egg whites wld remove that off taste & maybe even intensify the coconut flvr?

    I’m being cowardly in asking ’cause I don’t know I’m brave enough to cook these & find that I won’t eat them & no one around here (I’m in rural KY) is very adventurous in their habits. The ol’ German Chocolate cake is the only coconut any of ’em have tried. So giving them away wld b iffy @ best.

    Just a thought.

    I’ll b tvl’g North to WI in a cpl wks where my younger son & his wife & step-son r expecting a new baby. He’s got such a sweet tooth he used to eat sugar out of a cup (it’s along story w/ a convoluted reasoning as to y I let him .. ). I might try this recipe w/ him after the baby arrives (she has gestational diabetes). I’ll repost on my experiment if I do, but until then, any ideas?

    Thx for an exceptional blog! I nvr just click the delete button when I see I have a post from u’all! .. Oh no .. The South is ketchin’!!! =D

    • Your home recipe sounds delicious! I wonder if the “off” taste is because you’ve been using “sweetened” coconut, which if produced for the US is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup rather than the traditional sugar. Maybe try using flaked coconut, which is unsweetened, and then adjusting with sugar?

      • I nvr even KNEW flaked coconut existed! & u’re prob’y right abt the diff taste due to the corn syrup. & yes, I grew up w/ sugar cane sugar & have tried other kinds (beet in Germany too as well as grape juice as a sweetener from Riesling grapes), all sweet but diff undertones.

        As for the flaked coconut, I have NO clue where to start looking. Any ideas? To give u a clue as to the availability of products where I live, there’s a cpl Houchen’s, a WalMart & a Food Lion. Button white mushrooms only @ FL @ $3 + a lb. No Gold Metal all-purp flour ‘cept @ WM & lemons & limes @ 3x$1 .. I am SO spoiled by being a San Fran girl whose been around ..

  2. Funny you remember the coconut cupcakes…I had never been interested in making them until I took the baking class and was amazed by how good they are. I never thought of myself as much of a fan of coconut but it can be really good (and perhaps avoid the sweetened as you say?)

  3. I adore coconut in any form, and a macaroon is a lovely way to indulge. Yours look scrumptious! Alice Medrich was just here in Seattle with her new dessert book and I’ve already sampled quite a few treats from it – needless to say, all delicious.

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