When The Bakers’ Dozen, San Francisco organization was compiling their cookbook, I was lucky enough to be a tester for the Coconut Macaroon cookies. It was my first professional recipe testing and I was thrilled. I have tested hundreds of recipes since then, but like anything else in life, your first is the most special! The use of unsweetened coconut is the real secret – the cookies are dryer, cook more evenly, and aren’t cloyingly sweet. They are by far the best macaroons I’ve ever had and I’m certain they will become a family favorite for you too.
Dried coconut comes in a variety of shredded widths, from coarse to very fine. The coarser the grind of the coconut, the more the cookies look like haystacks. I like a blend of fine and medium grind, so I have some chewy pieces and then smaller pieces that blend together more like a dough. If you can’t find a small enough grind, you can always put the coconut in a food processor and grind it down yourself. The addition of pecans also makes these taste special. The nuts offset the sweetness a little and add an appealing flavor that really enhances the coconut.
In America, when you hear the word macaroon, you assume that it will be a mounded coconut cookie, sticky and uber sweet. In fact macaroons can be a variety of baked meringue-like cookies which vary based on what region they come from. In England they are called macaroons, in France it is macaron, and both come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone. No matter what you call them, these are delicious cookies and some of my most requested!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Because the dough for macaroons is just egg whites, the cookies need to be cooked through to be safe. Making the cookies small allows the inside to cook before the outside gets too brown. You wind up with a tender, moist cookie with a delightful crunchy exterior! Using unsweetened coconut reduces the sugar content so that the coconut flavor is more pronounced.
Separating eggs means you are supposed to separate the yolks from the whites, placing each in a separate bowl. The easiest way to do this with the least risk of breaking the yolks is while holding your hands over a bowl, to break an egg into one hand and gently toss the yolk back and forth between your hands, letting the whites drip through your fingers into the bowl. Drop the yolk into a separate bowl.
- Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly butter the sheets. Combine the coconut and pecans in a large bowl and set aside.
- Combine the sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat over low heat just until hot to the touch (carefully dip in your finger to check). Do not bring to a boil. Pour over the coconut and pecans and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Drop by rounded tablespoons (or use an ice cream scoop) onto the prepared sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake, switching the position of the sheets from top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking, until golden brown, about 17 minutes. Transfer to wire cooling racks and cool completely.
- The cookies can be stored at room temperature in airtight containers for up to 1 week.
- Yield: about 5 dozen cookies
- MAKE AHEAD: The “dough” can be made a day ahead and baked off the following day. These are best on the day they are baked, but do hold up well. If you are planning on shipping them to someone, wrap them individually before packing.