Macaroons are not typically the first cookie I'd reach for. Not everyone is a fan of coconut (including my husband with his "allergy"), but about two years ago, at my parents' house, I tasted a sweet, creamy, chocolate-covered macaroon the likes of which I've never had before or since. The coconut flakes almost were indiscernible because the cookie was extra moist. I researched a lot of macaroon recipes, and this is probably not the one I was seeking, but it was really delicious and very reminiscent of what I liked in the maybe-Rachael-Ray version: the same creaminess and the integrated, not stringy, coconut. They were chewy and rich. (I might have underbaked them just a little, but I typically prefer that in a cookie.) Dipping them in chocolate was a nice extra, but not necessary; they were very tasty on their own.
Although I'm used to the simple coconut/vanilla/condensed milk routine, many fancier macaroon recipes call for an egg white - in some cases, a beaten egg white - which I assume acts as a binding agent and enhances the texture. I've liked Brown Eyed Baker's recipes before and decided to try hers. I've also heard that using Coco Real Cream of Coconut is a fabulous substitute for regular condensed milk. It's essentially sweetened condensed coconut milk! All the better for the coconut flavor. I bought some and will try it next time. (If you have trouble finding it, look in the liquor section of your local grocery store near all the other non-alcoholic mixes!). The only other change I made is that I used unsweetened coconut. It's available in big, flat flakes at places like Whole Foods. (My local Albertsons carries it in the natural foods section.) The flakes are much bigger than shredded coconut, so give it a quick whirl in the food processor.
Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Makes 3 dozen cookies
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk or Coco Real Cream of Coconut
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (or unsweetened coconut flakes, shredded)
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (optional - for dipping)
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line cookie sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together the condensed milk/Coco Real, egg white, vanilla, and salt, and then stir in the shredded coconut until well blended.
Drop by tablespoonfuls about two inches apart on the cookie sheets. Most macaroons are drop cookies shaped like rough haystacks. For these, use dampened fingers to press the cookies lightly into a pyramid shape.
Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool the cookies on the sheet for about two minutes, and then remove them to a baking rack to cool completely.
If you want to dip the cookies, melt 8 ounces of the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate. It will melt and become smooth. (If you're only dipping some of your cookies - and a mix would look very nice - you can halve the amount of chocolate.) Holding a cookie by the pointy top, dip it in so the bottom and about 1/2" of the sides are covered. Gently shake or scrape off excess chocolate, and place the dipped cookie on a parchment-lined (cool!) baking sheet to set up. The chocolate will set up by itself, but placing the cookie sheet in the fridge for about 15 minutes helps the process along much more quickly. You can store the macaroons in a container at room temperature once they are set. They are great for Passover or really any time if you're a coconut fan!
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