My love of coconut is a new thing. We didn’t eat much of it when we were growing up, so I didn’t bake with it much. With so many other tasty options in bakeries, I would go for the good ol’ standby rather than try something new. My attitude seems to be more “why mess with a good thing?” than my sisters. I remember Sara made coconut cupcakes for little E’s first birthday and sent home the extra flaked coconut home with Marie who was visiting. I thought, “huh. Coconut?” Slightly intrigued and yet since I was on the other coast during that birthday I had still not had the occasion to enjoy.
Last year, Paul sent me this picture:
It was a chocolate dipped coconut macaroon. He bought this delicacy at the Mt. Bachelor ski lodge near Bend, Oregon. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from where I live now in Portland, so the treat did not make it to me for a sample. However, he discovered they were ALSO sold at Kettleman’s Bagels, which happened to be in my neighborhood and in my work neighborhood. These macaroons were the size of your fist, sweet coconut goodness with just the right amount of chocolate. Wow. Love. Sometimes we’d split the macaroon sometimes we’d each get our own. Occasionally my boss and I would treat ourselves on a particularly tedious Friday afternoon. She’s a fan too.
I mention that Kettleman’s HAPPENED to be in the neighborhood. Past tense. A few months ago it was bought out by Einstein’s bagels. Much of the locavore community here in Portland was up in arms with the diminished selection of bagels (a controversy that was dubbed “Bagelgate“). They took to facebook indeed! I, however, have mourned the coconut macaroons. Resigned with the knowledge that the treats were no more, I decided it was time to learn how to make them.
Were I to do this again, I’d try with shredded coconut to be more in line with my original favorite, but as one recipient commented, they are “exceptionally good” macaroons.
Exceptionally Good Macaroons
- 4 large egg whites
- 3 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces) unsweetened dried flaked (not shredded) coconut, also called coconut chips OR 3 cups (9 ounces) sweetened dried shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil Set aside.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
4. Using 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.
Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
5. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes and again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, you can lower the heat to 300°F. I also covered them with a little foil because I don’t prefer them too dark.
6. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. If you plan to add chocolate, press a small piece of your favorite chocolate into the cookies while they are still hot. I tried semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate – whatever suits your fancy!
7. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie. The cookies are best on the day they are baked—the exterior is crisp and chewy and the interior soft and moist. Although the crispy edges will soften, the cookies remain delicious stored in an airtight container for 4 days.