So here's a bit of a confession, previous to my baking ventures I had no idea what a macaroon was. In fact my only point of reference that it was any type of cookie was from of an Everybody Loves Raymond episode. It's the one where Debra has the cookie tin that she swears she gave back to Marie. At one point Ray and Robert are reminiscing about the cookies they had eaten out of it, and Ray says “macaroons” and Robert replies “aaah...the macaroons” in that way that Brad Garet says things. Hilarious. In fact whenever I say macaroons I hear his voice in my head. You can only imagine how unnerving that is. On the show they were probably talking about macarons (french macaroons, with the filling) and not these coconut macaroons, but still the voice haunts me.
Before going on vacation I asked my brother if there was anything he would like me to bake. The first words out of his mouth were “aaaah... the macaroons" (okay not really, but I like to think they were. It was more like "macaroons?"). I was shocked, he'd never answered that question so quickly before, so it must have been something he really wanted. Not surprising in the least since it's a cookie based completely on coconut. I promptly looked up a recipe, which I later realized is pretty much the only recipe, and made sure to pick up the ingredients on my next trip to the grocery store.
These cookies are so simple. Dump, mix, add coconut annnd done. The only thing left to do is scoop and place on the pan. I was adapting the recipe from much larger versions so the most difficult part was learning that I should firmly press the batter into my cookie scoops and then press down slightly once on the cookie sheet. That's it. I did alter the recipe a tad, adding salt, removing a bit of the vanilla and replacing it with almond extract. I felt the addition would help to enhance the nuttiness of the toasted coconut. There is a lot of potential to play with this recipe. Dipping in chocolate, adding some nuts into the mix, when you have something this simple the possibilities are pretty endless. However, for my first venture I wanted it as simple as possible to allow the coconut flavour to shine.
I can safely say that I am now wholly in love with coconut. You would have to be in order to enjoy these cookies. Coconut macaroons are all about the nuttiness of coconut and its texture. I had expected them to be crispy throughout (almost like a meringue cookie) but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was crisp on the outside and then soft and chewy on the inside. They're so simple, so light, and so good. The recipe made about two dozen and about twenty of them were gone by the next morning. They really were good.
I almost feel like it's a bit ridiculous to say that we enjoyed these so much, as they are so super simple to make. But like a lot of things, complexity does not necessarily equate to higher quality. The very fact that the macaroons disappeared so quickly is a testament to how good they are. The only time anything else in this house disappears so quickly is when my father asks me what's wrong with "the Facebook."
Adapted from Baking BitesYields approx 2 dozen (I used this medium cookie scoop)
3 cups medium grate unsweetened coconut – you could use sweetened, but I wouldn't :).
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg whites (approx 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (50g)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 325F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
If using a larger grate coconut, lightly chop to break the coconut into slightly smaller pieces.
In a medium bowl add egg whites, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and salt and whisk until completely combined.
Add coconut to the egg white mix and stir until all the coconut has been moistened.
Scoop by rounded tablespoons, pressing the batter firmly into the spoon. Place on cookie sheet, pressing down lightly to make sure the entire cookie is touching the sheet. If using a cookie scoop, press firmly into cookie scoop before releasing onto cookie sheet. Then press down to make sure the entire cookie touches the sheet.
Bake for 13-17 minutes, until the cookie is golden at the edges (I found the best time to be 15 minutes).
Allow to cool on sheet for 2 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.