Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Yes, macaroooooons. The mounds of sweet coconut that have nothing to do with Parisian macarons. I've been looking for a good recipe for ages, and finally have a keeper (thank you David Lebovitz!).

I love that the French call these rochers à la noix de coco; little rocks of coconut. This is helpful in distinguishing them from the Parisian macarons, which are merengue (read: whipped egg white)-based delicacies, unlike these heavier, chewier little mounds.

The secret to the delicious chewy texture, I discovered, is cooking the ingredients on the stove top prior to forming the cookies. My less-successful rounds of coconut macaroons merely had you throw the ingredients together in a bowl, and then bake up the cookies in the oven, and they always came out less chewy and more dry than I like.

Even though I used the incorrect kind of coconut (only had sweetened dried coconut in my kitchen this week), they still turned out famously. Whether you think of coconut macaroons as a Christmas treat, Passover treat, or fourteenth of July treat, I'm guessing you would enjoy this easy recipe on any occasion.

Coconut Chocolate Macaroons (aka American Macaroons!):
grâce à Dave Lebovitz

4 egg whites
1 1/4 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 T honey
2 1/2 C unsweetened coconut* (if using sweetened coconut, reduce sugar by 1/4 C)
1/4 C flour (not a strictly unleavened Passover sweet!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate chips, for dipping

In a medium-sized skillet on the stove top, combine egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut, and flour. Stir constantly over low-medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Stir until the mixture just begins to scorch (when some of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thickening, and you hear the pan contents sizzling a bit when you stir).

Off the heat, mix in the vanilla. Set aside in a bowl to cool.

When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a parchment- or silicone pad-lined baking sheet, make 1 1/2 inch mounds of the coconut mixture. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown on top.

If you want to dip them in chocolate:
When cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips (in the microwave for 30 second-bursts at a time, stirring between bursts, or in a double boiler on the stove) and dip each cookie in the chocolate. Place the dipped cookies on a baking pan lined with plastic wrap, and place the pan in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened.

*unsweetened coconut is also called coconut powder, medium shredded coconut, and coconut flakes.

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