Old Fashioned Coconut Macaroons
If there is any baked goodie that is easier to make than a fruit cobbler, it is a coconut macaroon. A soft slightly chewy center, with a light crisp outside… altogether yum!
Not to be confused with ‘macaron’, the trendy sandwich cookie that has been all the rage recently… that will come later. This is about the egg white and sweetened coconut concoction that is airy and light. But not meringue light, it has some chewiness to it too.
Macaroons have their origin in Italy, during the renaissance period. Initially they were made with almond paste. Later, for the sake of convenience, bakers started replacing the almond paste with either almond meal (powder) or dried sweetened coconut.
Macarons, the French version which were small round cookies without any coconut added, were developed by the chefs and bakers who accompanied the Italian noblewoman Catherine de Medici to the French court when she became the wife of King Henri 2nd. Like I mentioned earlier, more about them later.
I like to imagine Nora (the chief protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House) eating coconut macaroons, though Ibsen just uses the generic ‘makroner’ and not ‘kokosmakroner’ in the original Norwegian. Though coconut macaroons are a typical Christmas treat in Norway today, it is unlikely that coconuts were commonly available in the Oslo of 1879, the play’s setting. Still, I see Nora munching on coconut macaroons and they definitely had little specks of red glace cherries on them! So here is to the Noras of the world…
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 10 glace cherries
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
- Prepare two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
- In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the condensed milk, vanilla extract and the coconut.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites using a hand-held electric beater, till stiff peaks form, for about three to four minutes.
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the beaten egg whites into the coconut mixture, being careful not to overmix.
- Lastly sprinkle the salt grains on the mix lightly blend in with the spatula.
- With moistened hands, form small balls of about 1 ½ inches diameter and place on the baking sheets, 1 inch apart, giving the macaroons space to expand while baking.
- Bake in the preheated oven, for about 22 to 25 minutes, till the top of the macaroons start to brown.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and they are ready to go!
- Note: These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three weeks, that is, if they last that long!