Weekend Macarooning

In yesterday's vegetarian chat, I promised to offer up a foolish dessert today, just in time for April Fool's Day, which is this Sunday. Alas, I was unable to find rhubarb, a key component of my fool, so stay tuned in the coming weeks when it parades its lovely fuchsia stalks at market.

Instead of a fool, I offer you macaroons, a rather unfoolish treat that resonates for many during Passover as well as Easter.


Coconut macaroons studded with chocolate. (Kim O'Donnel)

In "The World of Jewish Desserts," Gil Marks writes that the word macaroon comes from the Italian word, maccarone, which means paste, and that Italian Jews were the ones responsible for introducing this flourless cookie to Ashkenazi Jews in other parts of Europe.

A combination of ground nuts, sugar and egg whites is the formula for a macaroon, with almonds usually representing the nutty quotient. I am still at work on how and when the coconut (which is not a nut) came into the picture, but based on cursory sniffing around, it seems to be a North American phenomenon. If you've got coconut intel, please send it this way.

So today, I pay tribute to the coconut version, and below is just one way to make 'em. Some recipes call for a sugar injection of condensed milk, others suggest a mix of almond paste and coconut or chocolate thrown in for kicks. Below, details from the current issue of New York magazine. Although this version calls for melted butter, I'm unconvinced that the butter is necessary, after all, the beaten egg whites are the "glue". I think it might be worth another go-round without the dairy fat.

To say these are rich is an understatement. Coconut lovers need only apply, please! Wowzee. The optional chocolate chunks offer a much-needed lift from the coco-intense fibrous network, and the two work really well together (this from a long-time fan of the Mounds bar).

If you're short on time this weekend as you make Seder preparations, these guys take less than an hour to prepare, start to finish.

And of course, if you've got a macaroon tip to throw into the circle (coconut or otherwise), please share in the comments area below.

Deborah Snyder's Coconut Macaroons
From the April 2, 2007 edition of New York magazine

Ingredients
3 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons melted butter (KOD note: basically 2 ½ tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
4 medium-large egg whites
Optional: 1 cup chopped chocolate

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut, vanilla, butter and half the sugar.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they get foamy and opaque. Add remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream and continue whipping until mixture is pure white and volumized, but just short of holding soft peaks. (KOD note: This should take about 3 minutes.)

Fold whites into the coconut mixture. Add chocolate, if using.

Using a very small ice-cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop batter onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1/2-inch apart.

Bake for about 13-15 minutes (KOD note: it took more like 20 minutes -- 10 minutes on each side in my oven), until lightly browned, turning the tray once during baking. Cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen macaroons.

By Kim ODonnel |  March 30, 2007; 11:21 AM ET Desserts , Jewish Holidays
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Comments

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Kim, with the new redesign, I almost couldn't find your blog! please, please, tell them to make the blogs and chats easier to find.

Posted by: SSMD | March 30, 2007 2:22 PM

I agree. It's much more difficult to find recently updated blogs.

Posted by: Sheri | March 30, 2007 3:45 PM

I second the motion. I DO NOT LIKE THE NEW WEBSITE DESIGN. We can't find anything. Bring it back the way it was.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 3:45 PM

italian jews were introduced to the macaroon cookie by the sephardic jews or more like Arab Jews of North Africa. This cookie probably originated from Andalusia.
Go to Morocco and this cookie is everywhere where they have been making it for hundreds of years dating back to the Muslim rule of Spain.

Posted by: history | March 30, 2007 3:46 PM

Kim - I echo SSMD's comment. The new website design is not very user friendly

Now onto something you can help me with...

I have a fatal allergy to coconut, so have never had a macaroon. Could you print the recipe using almonds?

Thanks.

Posted by: minniwanca | March 30, 2007 3:47 PM

I use the RSS feed and always find the chat in my Google account. Just started playing with RSS last week and I have to say I love it. Keeps me up to date on my favorite blogs and podcasts.

Posted by: late to the party | March 30, 2007 4:08 PM

I have forwarded all of your comments about the site redesign to editorial leadership and will continue to do so. I agree with 'late to the party' about the RSS feed, but still there are folks who not quite at that stage -- like our mothers! -- who need to see the links right where they've been or in a nearby visible, intuitive place. Thanks for your thoughts. They are valued, trust me.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | March 30, 2007 4:22 PM

Has anyone tried this recipe (or similar) using Splenda? Any thoughts about sugar-free options?

Posted by: sugar free | March 31, 2007 8:53 AM

I have made chocolate macaroons with splenda using a similar recipe. They were terrific, although I found that Splenda tastes sweeter than sugar so I cut back a little in the amount.

Posted by: Kit | March 31, 2007 11:40 AM

Bake for about 13-15 minutes (KOD note: it took more like 20 minutes -- 10 minutes on each side in my oven), until lightly browned, turning the tray once during baking. Cool completely.

Are we supposed to flip these cookies while baking? "10 minutes on each side"?

Posted by: Pancake Macaroons | March 31, 2007 12:19 PM

Oy, Kim you can't use butter to make Pesach macaroons! First of all the Passover meal is a meat meal and butter is considered dairy and cannot be used with meat for the strictly kosher. Use a baking parchment paper. Second of all, butter reduces the macaroon dough as all fats do when egg whites hit fats. And you do not need almond paste or nuts to make macaroons as they are traditionally egg whites and cocoanut and whatever else flips your latke.
Chag Pesach sameach kulam!
Rachel
Tel Aviv, Israel

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2007 3:44 PM

Theis recipe sound delicious, and I will certainly try them. I enjoyed the background info too. If I recall correctly, the only other time I made macaroons was following a recipe from the Beany Malone Cookbook. Some will remember the popular girls series about siblings during and after WWII in Denver: while their journalist father was out of town covering the war, Mary Fred, Johnny and Beany Malone assumed and shared housekeeping responsibilities and got to keep any leftover funds. These books are now back in print, happily.

Posted by: Constance | March 31, 2007 11:09 PM

Kim,

I love, love, love coconut. Maybe you can help me. When I was working for George Mason Univ., the cafeteria served a dessert that was like a round brownie with a coconut filling. They were so good. Much bettern than those Mounds cookies they are selling these days. We used to sneak them out. Same for their macaroons. If you can help me find a recipe for those brownie bites, I'd be eternally grateful.

Posted by: LisaLuvs2Cook | April 2, 2007 11:47 AM

Kim, A variation on the macaroon theme (for a dairy meal, of course, or snacking during the week). Not difficult at all and truly decadent to help make up for no bread for 8 days. (Not for those with allergies to nuts or coconut):

Island Macaroons

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, chopped

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
pinch salt

10 - 12 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped and melted in double
boiler

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place coconut and macadamia nuts on large
cookie sheet. Bake until lightly, stirring frequently, about 12 minutes. Cool.
Maintain oven temperature.

2. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Grease parchment - can use
Pam.

3. Combine condensed milk and vanilla in large bowl. Mix in coconut and
macadamia nuts thoroughly.

4. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry.
Fold whites into coconut mixture.

5. Drop batter by rounded tablespoons (I use cookie scoop to make uniform size
and to get more out of batter) onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake until macaroons
just turn golden brown around edges, about 14 minutes. Immediately remove
cookie from parchment paper to rack to cool completely.

6. Line another cookie sheet with waxed paper. Dip cookie bottoms into melted
chocolate. Place cookies, chocolate side down on prepared cookie sheet.
Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes. Can be prepared 4 days
ahead. Store cookies in airtight container in refrigerator or can be frozen.

Posted by: LEF | April 2, 2007 1:11 PM

I've been out of town so am late with this. (It also wasn't easy to find you on the website.) Please provide the recipe for the almond alternative for macaroons. I've never liked coconut.

Posted by: betts | April 6, 2007 10:57 AM

I made the macaroons this weekend and loved them! So chewy and good. I couldn't find unsweetened coconut, so I used sweetened and they were equally as fantastic -- not too sweet either! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

Posted by: Aimee in Leesburg | April 9, 2007 10:25 AM

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