Nov 9, 2009

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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Recently I got to thinking about some of the most polarizing food subjects. You know, the things that get people talking in a great, spirited love-’em-or-hate-’em debate. Cilantro, for starters. Sushi. Gin. Tomatoes. Rachael Ray. You get where I’m going here.

Coconut is definitely on that list, am I right? Its such a complex food that you can’t really be on the fence about it. Its bold flavor, distinct scent and rough, chewy texture puts it in a category of its own. Other things taste like coconut, never the other way around. So if, like my husband, coconut makes you do that shuddery “I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about putting it near my mouth” thing, then I’ll catch you next time. But if you are on Team Coconut, then I hope you’ll try this recipe ASAP, because it makes one of the best dang macaroons I’ve ever had.

Typically, coconut macaroons are among the simplest, quickest cookies to make. Even if you decide to dip them in chocolate, the number of ingredients and steps is under five. The simplest recipes use egg whites, sugar, vanilla and sweetened coconut, and just like that they can be perfectly delicious. But so often, you can end up with something kind of clumsy and chewy and cloyingly sweet and it ends up taking a whole day to eat one, nibbling away at it here and there. Now, there’s really nothing wrong with that, per se, but I love finding recipes that aim to create the perfect version of something, and in doing so make it totally craveworthy and render me completely unable to put the rest away for later, even if I’ve probably already had enough.

This is why I am totally obsessed with the recipes from America’s Test Kitchen. They take stuff that’s already good and somehow find a way to make it even better. Although they rarely provide the simplest way to get there, its so worth it. And maybe I should keep this to myself, but I get the biggest thrill out of having to hunt down a certain ingredient that I’ve never used before. Like the cream of coconut (not to be confused with coconut milk or unsweetened coconut cream) that has a full, round, creamy coconut flavor and makes these macaroons out of this world.

More greatness about the version of this recipe: it uses a mixture of unsweetened coconut and the sweetened variety usually found in the baking aisle, which makes for a much more balanced sweetness in the finished product. Plus the combination of textures of the two kinds of coconut (the unsweetened variety is dry and very finely shredded, unlike coarsely grated and almost wet sweetened coconut) makes the macaroon more like a cookie and less like the center of a candy bar.

The drier mix of coconut and the combination of the cream of coconut and sugar in this recipe create the most fantastic crunchy crust on the bottom of the cookies, a texture you don’t always get with a macaroon. It makes for the most awesome textural element between the chewy coconut and the slick of chocolate on the bottom of the cookie.

When I sent some of these home with a friend, she and her husband thought there was some kind of wafer-like layer involved under the chocolate and made it seem like I’d put waaaay more effort into making these than I actually did. Ha! Awesome. I love when that happens. But then I always end up ruining the glamour by telling people the truth. I should work on that.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

Sweetened cream of coconut, often used to make pina coladas and other cocktails, can usually be found in most supermarkets by the booze, canned and under the brand name Coco Lopez. Finding the sweetened coconut is no problem in the baking aisle, but for the unsweetened coconut, you may have to check the Asian foods aisle or a natural foods store. If you have no luck finding the unsweetened coconut, then use all sweetened coconut, but reduce the cream of coconut to 1/2 cup, omit the corn syrup, and add two tablespoons of cake flour to the coconut before adding the wet ingredients.

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup cream of coconut
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cups sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
10 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

Place the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla and salt until well-blended. In another large bowl, using your fingertips, toss together the shredded coconuts. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

Drop the mixture by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Form the cookies into loose haystacks with your fingertips (moistening your fingers with water will prevent sticking). Bake until the cookies are softly set and golden in spots on top and your can see the bottoms are deeply browned, about 15-17 minutes. Cool on the sheets for about two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Line the baking sheets with fresh parchment paper or wipe the silicone mats clean. When the cookies are completely cool, place about two thirds of the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate on high power in 30 second intervals, stopping to stir after each interval. Put the remaining third of the chocolate chips into the melted chocolate, stirring again until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Holding a macaroon by its pointed top, dip the bottom of the cookie into the chocolate, using a spoon to gently coax the chocolate up the sides a bit if necessary. Place the dipped cookies on the lined baking sheets, and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

  • I'll try it. Look delicious!! You are great!

  • Coconut..blech…but I have family who love macaroons and I have a can of coconut cream in my pantry that I was looking at two days ago and wondering why I have it and I what on earth I would use it for…so my macaroon loving family members shall be happy soon.

  • I HATE coconuts but I must say I have developed a fondness for them. I have this coconut macaroon recipe that I learned from culinary school that I ABSOLUTELY love!! It's super easy as well and is always a crowd pleaser for everyone I make it for.

    I will definitely give this recipe a try next time!

  • Okay, that's 1 for Team Coconut, 2 for the haters…

  • I love coconut! I'll certainly be trying this recipe – reminds me of a Bounty bar!

    I put a sprinkle (or a handful) of shredded coconut in most my oatmeal cookies to add a little je-ne-sais-quoi! Everyone always comments "mmmm, there's something distinctly crunchy and flavourful in here that I can't quite make out, what is it?" I rarely tell them what it is in fear of the "ugh, COCONUT?!" reaction. I just say it's love. Coconut = love.

  • delaudela–That is a great idea with the oatmeal cookies, sound delicious!

    2 for 2 now, people…

  • Both me and my fiance love coconut, but the rest of my family is not so big on it. Go figure.

    I'm still searching for the perfect coconut macaroon, so I'll definitely have to try out this recipe. Looks like I'll have to do some ingredient hunting first, though. 🙂

  • i thought i hated macaroons my entire life until i had chocolate dipped ones, and they changed my mind. I am glad to know you have shared a full proof recipe!

  • After seeing your blog and one from "Real Simple's Cookie of the Day" in my inbox, I decided I was being told to make macaroons. I evaluated the two recipes and combined ideas with some panache of my own. I used your recipe with a few changes. Instead of 3 C Sweetened Coconut I just used 2 substituting the third cup for 1 of Almond Meal. Zest of 2 lemons. Instead of 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract. Need I say it? Oh fine: HEAVEN! 🙂

  • Pretty blog. I love cilantro, and coconut and gin. Not sushi. Rachel Ray I can take or leave. Lovely macaroons.

  • I love coconut. I once made a sweet potato pie for my uncle with some coconut hidden in the crumbly topping section that he was unaware of. He raved about the pie. I think maybe the haters only THINK they don't like coconut. : )

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