Happy Easter and Happy Passover! Actually, I really like to say Hoppy Easter and all the other cheesy egg themed puns, but I’ll spare you all my Dad humor (for now). I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend with your friends and family. I know I did, which is one reason why I’m so late posting this!
Coconut macaroons are of course traditional for Passover celebrations, because they are naturally kosher (and gluten-free). I was not raised Jewish, but my husband was. I have also always loved coconut desserts at this time of year though.
I think that goes back to my childhood. Every year, my mom would make a “lamb cake” using a special cake tin shaped like a lamb. We would cover the cake in white icing and shredded coconut, to look like the lamb’s wool.
Now that I think about it, that cake was most likely made from box mix, given that my mom was busy raising three children and has generally had little interest in baking. But I loved decorating that cake with her! So I’ll always think of coconut at this time of year.
Coconut macaroons recipes are generally very simple, but there are some important techniques you must get right. First, its very important to get the egg whites whipped to the right stage. You want medium-firm peaks, which means between soft and stiff. Run a whisk through the mixture and flip it upside down. You’re looking for a peak that can hold it shape, but with a little softness/drooping at the end. They are easier to over-whip then you think, especially with a stand mixture, so stop and check them often.
Finally, make sure you properly fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Folding is a distinct technique from mixing or combining. To fold in egg whites, put them on top of the mixture you want to combine them with. Put the spatula on its side and slice down the center of the bowl from the top towards you, scraping along the bottom and up the side of the bowl. Then flip the spatula so the mixture “folds” or falls back onto the surface. Here’s a good video you can watch that demonstrates this technique.
Of course, I’m probably posting this a bit too late for you to make these for Easter or Passover. But I think these are delicious all year round; I often make them when I host my neighborhood book club. So be sure to give these “egg-cellent” treats a try!
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Makes 20-22 cookies
- 14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (try cream of coconut for a dairy-free verison)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 oz chocolate (milk, semisweet, or bittersweet), for dipping, optional
Preheat the oven to 325. Line baking sheets with a nonstick liner (like Silpat) or parchment paper.
Mix the coconut, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed until medium-firm peaks form. That means a whisk full of the mixture should be able to keep its shape with only a small amount of drooping (do not over beat). Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Drop the batter onto the prepared pans using a medium sized cookie scoop or two spoons. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chop 6 ounces of the chocolate; finely chop the remaining 2 ounces (or grate on the large holes of a box grater). Microwave the chopped chocolate at 50 percent power for 15 second intervals, stirring thoroughly in between, until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Don’t overheat the chocolate; it should not be much warmer than body temperature when melted. Add the grated chocolate and stir until melted, microwaving at 50 percent power for 5 seconds if needed to complete the melting. Dip half of each cooled macaroon into the chocolate. Refrigerate the cookies until chocolate is just set, 10-20 minutes.
Cookies can be kept for a few days, well wrapped at room temperature.