Unfussy Fare

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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I grew up hating coconut. It smelled like suntan oil to me, and called to mind a revolting Hostess confection known as a Snowball. Snowballs were round and hot pink and unnaturally soft. The only texture came from the “coconut” coating, which looked and felt like dryer lint. Snowballs were so cloying and mushy that I couldn’t stomach them at any age, which is saying something. I had a towering tolerance for sweet and mushy as a cavity-prone child of the 70’s. Snowballs put me off coconut for decades.

Eventually I encountered less processed versions of coconut. And once I tasted coconut milk in savory marinades, sauces, and curries, I fell in love. Coconut milk is rich and fragrant. It’s an utterly luscious vehicle for hot, complicated spices, redolent of tropical climes. I’ve never met a coconut curry I didn’t like. Still, it took time to get past the memory of those Snowballs and open my heart to coconut desserts.

I made my first tentative stab at coconut dessert with Ina Gartens’s coconut cake. It was perfection.  In the glow of that cake, the texture of coconut actually seemed like a good thing. A thing to embrace, rather than flee. Hostess Snowballs began receding to a faint, menacing, hot-pink memory. My conversion to sweet coconut was recently complete when I made my first-ever batch of coconut macaroons. These bad boys have a crumbless, chewy consistency all their own. They are moist, and ever-so-slightly flowery. Bittersweet chocolate adds a deep, dark and creamy counterpoint.

Not only do these cookies embody intriguing flavor and texture, they also score high on the unfussiness scale.  Of course, I had to go and gild the lily by dipping them in chocolate. That’s wholly unnecessary, and it pretty much doubles the preparation time. I won’t fault you if leave them un-dipped.  But if you have a few extra minutes, you’ll be glad you dipped. Really glad.

I considered several macaroon recipes, and went with the simplest (naturally). This recipe is adapted from the one printed on the bag of Baker’s brand sweetened coconut.

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Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
makes about two and a half dozen cookies

1 14-ounce package of sweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup sugar
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons almond extract
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir the coconut, sugar, egg whites, extract and salt with a wooden spoon.

Place batter by generous, rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler (or a glass or metal bowl placed atop a saucepan of gently simmering water).

Dip the bottom of each cookie into chocolate, up to a depth of about a quarter inch. Place cookies upside down on parchment paper until chocolate cools and hardens (about 20-30 minutes).

macaroon-ingredients

10 Responses to “Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons”

  1. Pam says:

    Those look delicious! I’m embarrassed to admit that Lisa and Eric took many a Snowball to school in their lunch boxes. I think they liked them.

  2. Gillian says:

    Most of my friends liked Snowballs. It’s not that I’m above uber-processed Hostess products. I was a Suzy-Q’s fan. Believe me, they’re no better than snowballs. It’s just that snowballs didn’t work for me. Ever. On any level.

  3. Kate says:

    I looooove macaroons! Serve with tea and dental floss…

  4. Pamela Perry says:

    I was a Ding Dong girl. Regarding Snowballs, we must have been separated at birth. Never could understand the attraction…much like Peeps and Necco Wafers.

    Either way, glad or should I say Super-Excited to see you back. I hope my gentle prodding (poking) was just that, gentle. :)

  5. Lisa Belt says:

    I liked all Hostess products, and still do. The snowballs would have been my least favorite, due to the weird marshmallow coating. However, the snowballs were the only ones that lent themselves to holiday-specific variations, so they were a necessary evil in our house. My mother certainly wasn’t going to let me eat lunch without a green snowball on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s the kind of attention to detail I appreciated as a kid.

  6. Gillian says:

    Lisa: Commenting at 5:48 a.m.? I hope you have coffee in hand. I do. As for attention to detail, you’ve obviously inherited the gene. No child of yours will ever go to school with his PB&J spread even a 1/16th of an inch shy of the edge of the bread. Will you include holiday-specific snowballs? Do they even make snowballs anymore?

    Pamela: I appreciate gentle prodding! I enjoy the blog, and I’m thrilled that you do, too. Just got distracted by the rest of my life for awhile there. Little miss all-or-nothing just needs to find a reasonable balance, as per usual. And I’m with you on Peeps and Necco Wafers.

    Kate: You can feed macaroons to your gluten-free potluck friends! Right? Or does the sweetened coconut contain gluten of some sort? I’m a little unclear on what gluten is. I meant to buy unsweetened coconut, but they were all out at the store, so I just got the sweetened kind and used less sugar.

  7. Kate says:

    Gluten is a protein found in grains, most commonly wheat, barley, rye, and spelt, that has this amazing ability to turn huge numbers of people into whiny, complaining, picky eaters. It often causes the gluten-intolerant person to blab on ad nauseum (as shown here) about the most minute details of their diet, completely oblivious to the fact that no one else cares. The most easy-going fellow can suddenly find himself inquiring, “Yes, but is it GLUTEN-FREE?” in a loud, self-righteous voice. Apart from these serious behavioral symptoms caused by being a member of the most cutting edge dietary constriction, gluten generally causes digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, fatigue, and behavioral problems in children. It can cause serious damage to the intestinal lining in folks with celiac disease. The best way to relate to gluten in layman’s terms is that it is the stuff in flour that makes bread dough stretchy. Last, and most importantly, it makes everything taste really good. If you are not gluten-intolerant or celiac, thank your lucky stars. There is no gluten in sugar, or coconut, but I am not even going to take a stab at what is in a Snowball…

  8. Kevin says:

    No one cares that you’re gluten-free ;-)

  9. Kate says:

    Yay Kevin! You are finally putting in your two cents! I happen to know that Kevin’s favorite crappy baked favorite is Little Debbie’s Swiss Cake Rolls. I think I saw some on his counter the other day…

  10. Kevin says:

    Oh god, somebody brought a box of Swiss Cake Rolls into work the other day and I had a packet of them. They tasted *so* good! And they made me *so* sick!

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