Before I became a food blogger, the term “macaroons” meant only one thing: craggy little balls of toasted coconut surrounding a sweet and chewy center. And, while I’ve since become quite familiar with the delicate and ethereal French macarons that seem to be spun from almonds and air, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the former. They’re what I grew up on, and evoke fond memories of years gone by. To this day, if I close my eyes as I bite into a coconut macaroon, I’m five years-old again – holding my daddy’s hand as we stroll down Morris Park on a Sunday morning, toting our white bakery bag filled with goodies. Good times…
Coconut macaroons remind me of springtime. Their popularity seems to swell around Passover and Eastertime, both of which occur in the Spring. Plus, they look like little bird’s nests – especially when made as thumbprints filled with tiny dollops of jam. And, they’re so simple to make – much easier than their finicky French cousins.
I adapted the recipe for these little gems from one of Alice Medrich’s in her book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies . In her recipe, Medrich uses unsweetened coconut chips in place of flaked coconut for a chunkier, more toothsome cookie. I tried them that way and they were great. However, they totally fell apart when I tried to make the thumbprint indentations. So, I tried again, using unsweetened shredded coconut this time. The cookie batter held together much better – almost like a paste – and I was able to press in my little jam pockets.
Aside from being a cinch to make, these macaroons are also very versatile. They’re already gluten and dairy free, but you can try different sweeteners, like honey or agave syrup, if you want to avoid refined sugars. You can play around with different flavorings as well. I added some almond extract to mine, but orange or lime would be lovely too. You can dip them in chocolate or, as I did, top them with jam. I love it when I can personalize a recipe exactly the way I want it!
I think that these macaroons are best served as soon as they’re cool enough to devour without burning your mouth. They’re delightfully crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy – almost gooey – on the inside. But, they will also keep well for several days in an airtight container. I’ve even frozen them with success.
So, if you’re looking for a Passover or Easter treat that’s quick, easy, scrumptious and customizable, look no further. These sticky, gooey, creamy, chewy coconut macaroons are for you!
Coconut-Almond Thumbprint Macaroons
adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
- 4 large egg whites
- 3 1/2 cups unsweetened dried, shredded, coconut
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup fruit jam or preserves (I used apricot, but any flavor you like will do.)
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Fill a large, wide skillet halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Mix all ingredients, except preserves, together in a large-ish bowl and set it into the simmering water. A metal bowl is best, if possible. Stir ingredients energetically with a spatula or wooden spoon until the egg whites are hot to the touch, opaque and slightly thickened. Remove bowl from the water and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes. Doing this will give the coconut time to soak up some of the liquid.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- Using a medium-sized cookie/ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), scoop the macaroon batter onto the cookie sheets about 1-inch apart. Make a small indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb or the back of a small spoon. Fill each indentation or “thumbprint” with about 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon of jam or preserves.
- Bake for 5 minutes, rotating the baking sheets at the halfway mark. Lower oven temperature to 325 F., and continue baking for another 12-14 minutes – again, rotating at the halfway mark. The macaroons should be a light golden brown on the outside, with deeper brown around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and set the baking sheets on a wire rack to cool. When cooled, gently peel off the macaroons and enjoy.
The macaroons are best served the same day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Makes approximately 18-22 macaroons.