I remember the first coconut macaroon I ever had. During a grad school break, I was visiting a friend who was interning in Washington, D.C. While my friend was working, I was exploring the Capitol Hill neighborhood and popped in to Eastern Market for a snack. At the time, the Market was housed in a temporary location across the street from its historic building, which was being restored after a fire the summer before. At one of the bakery counters I bought a macaroon and a piece rugulach, neither of which I’d ever tried. The rugulach wasn’t memorable, but the coconut was a revelation. It was everything I’d ever wanted in a cookie. Crispy outside, dense and chewy inside. Mildly sweet and made from coconut, one of my favorite flavors.
Since I’m working on my cookie-making skills and we had a party to attend, I thought this would be a good weekend to learn to make macaroons. We own several David Lebovitz books, including Ready for Dessert, which contains a great macaroon recipe (a halved version of the recipe can be found on his website). These baked like a dream, were a hit at the party, and are my favorite new cookies. Since the batter can be made ahead and refrigerated, I’m thinking of making another batch next weekend and baking them to take to Thanksgiving with the Mister’s family.
A few tips:
Be sure to add and mix all your ingredients in the pan or dutch oven BEFORE heating it. If you were to heat the pan first, you’d risk cooking the egg whites prematurely.
When you are cooking the coconut mixture, you are trying to get to a consistency that is neither runny nor dry, but rather sticky and clumpy. Right as mine started to look right, I noticed the scorching on the bottom of the pan and pulled them off the heat.
The mixture is much easier to shape into balls or pyramids once it has thoroughly cooled. Let it sit until cool to the touch or pop the mixture into the fridge for half an hour.
Since I wanted pyramids, I found the best process was to roll tablespoons of the coconut mixture between my palms to form little balls and then set these on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once I’d rolled out all the balls, I went back and used my fingers to shape them into pyramids. The cleaner your hands are, the less the coconut will stick to them. I found my fingers got too tacky after shaping about 7-8 pyramids, so I’d just give them a quick rinse and dry, then start on the next 7-8.
You can make these without the chocolate dip at the end, but it really really adds a little something special to these cookies.