If you live in New York long enough, you will most likely eventually get the honor of being invited to attend a seder for Jewish Passover. Because the holiday requires that nothing is cooked with leavening, you will also almost always be offered a very traditional and very delicious dessert: coconut macaroons.
People tend to fall into two camps where coconut is concerned, it seems. Either you love it and wax poetic, or you cannot stand it and won’t even look at these macaroons. Let me just say right now that, if you do not like coconut, these are not going to be the thing for you, but if you do, like I do, and all but one of my mini-chef students do, you will live for these.
In Italy in one bakery or another, they served a macaroon-like cookie with a lovely addition: almond flour. It adds an earthiness to the macaroon that improves the texture and the taste. For our recipe, we also toasted half of the coconut to increase the nutty flavor. Yum. The coconut, itself, is half sweetened, half not. If you know that your mini-chefs are not much for desserts that are not super sweet, simply use all sweetened coconut.
In class we added cocoa powder to half of our macaroons. You can use your poetic license here though. Mini chocolate chips. Mint extract. Cardamom. Chopped dried cherries. Dried pineapple. Whatever floats your boat when paired with coconut. In fact, if you have some sort of great idea, please leave me a comment. I cannot get enough of these and would take any excuse to make them again soon.
Now then, if you are not celebrating Passover and, say, are celebrating Easter instead this weekend, you could just as easily make little nests out of these, pressing a little place in the middle of the mounds with your finger before baking them. Afterward, they would be the perfect place to nestle a Peep or a few chocolate eggs.
Last night, friends of ours came over for dinner, and we served these macaroons for dessert. At the end of the evening, while the oldest sister, 6, was putting her shoes on to leave, she made sure to ask, “How did you make those things?”. She wanted to make sure that her mom had that recipe for later. Here it is, for all the coconut-lovers everywhere:
Vanilla and Chocolate Coconut Almond Macaroons
- 3 c. sweetened flaked coconut
- 3 c. unsweetened flaked coconut
- 3 c. sliced almonds
- 3/4 c. condensed milk
- a pinch or two of salt
- 2 t. vanilla
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4-3/4 c. good unsweetened cocoa powder (depending on how chocolatey you like things)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment.
- In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened and unsweetened coconut.
- Pour about half of the mixed coconut onto a rimmed baking pan. Place it into the oven and toast it for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times to toast all of the coconut. Cool the toasted coconut for a few minutes.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pour in the almond slices. Have your Yummy press the ON button and watch until the almonds start to look like flour (we called it “almond sand” in class). You’ve made almond flour.
- To the bowl with the un-toasted coconut, add the toasted coconut, almond flour, condensed milk, salt, and vanilla.
- In a separate, medium bowl add the egg whites. Beat till the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut-almond mixture.
- Scoop half of the mixture into mounds on the lined baking sheet(s). You can just use your hands because that’s the easiest way. Make them whatever size you like.
- Now add the cocoa powder to the rest of the mixture, and stir to combine.
- Scoop the rest of the mixture into mounds onto the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake the macaroons about 15 minutes (more or less if you have small or very large mounds) or until the tops of the vanilla macaroons turn golden brown.
- Cool. Devour!