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The Genius Ingredients Coconut Macaroons Were Missing

March 29, 2017

Even if you’ve had some version of these macaroons before (and you have) and been quite happy, you couldn’t have known what they were missing.

As delightful as all those other macaroons may be, with their one-bowl ease, their irresistibly chewy texture and snowball-like charm, it turns out they could be—curiously and dramatically—better.

Most macaroons are made with shredded coconut and little else, bound with sweetened condensed milk or egg white. And until Danielle Kartes, author of the blog and cookbook Rustic Joyful Food, emailed me a few years ago, I didn’t think much about what they might be lacking.

As Kartes was researching classic macaroon recipes, she told me she found herself wondering, “Where was the egg yolk? Where was the butter? Where was the fun?” So she took it upon herself to add them, and an important dose of salt, in the form of flaky fleur de sel, too.

Adding more fat and salt—the ingredients that we spent the 1990s stripping away—isn’t necessarily the answer to making everything better, but the difference it makes in these macaroons is profound.

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Instead of a straightforward sweet, coconutty chew, you get a more rounded richness, and a welcome savory oomph. And the butter has an amplifying effect—the cookies don’t just taste better because butter inherently tastes rich and good, but because it turns to browned butter in the oven, and mingles with sugars and salt to become caramel. All of these flavors swim along quite happily with coconut.

At the same time, the butter and egg yolk help the pointy outer edges of the macaroon brown and crisp up as the inside stays soft and custardy. In fact, the cookies are so moist (there, I said it) that they can soften and lose some of their addictive crunch over the course of a day. Don’t worry—I’ve stress-tested them for you, and a quick toast in the oven brings them back to their full crispy-chewy glory.

This makes them as good a treat to eat now (and I do mean now—they’re ready fast) as to share with your lucky coworkers and friends tomorrow. Any passersby who taste them will go doe-eyed, and keep wandering back for more. They won’t be able to pinpoint why they’re so much better than all the other cookies that look like them. Go ahead and tell them.

Note: These macaroons are kosher for Passover, but if you're looking for a good recipe that's also parve to serve after a meaty seder, try Alice Medrich's New Classic Coconut Macaroons—they're genius, too.

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Top Comment:
“I'll be making these for sure - love coconut macaroons and I firmly believe that adding butter and salt to anything (including cardboard) makes it exponentially more delicious. But I also bristled a bit at "wondering where was the butter, where was the fun?" Kind of like saying of an Indian/Hindu specialty, "where's the beef?" Coconut macaroons may not be exclusively Jewish, but they're strongly associated, as already noted. I'd eat them anytime (my family hasn't been kosher for generations) - but perhaps it would be a little smarter not to explicitly label this recipe as for 'Passover.'”
— amysarah
Comment

Photos by James Ransom

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28 Comments

Jon May 23, 2018
These were ok but very fragile/crumbly after baking. They need more of a binder.
 
tamater S. April 17, 2017
I was wondering if anyone here has tried substituting whipping cream for the condensed milk in this, or other recipes?
 
Debra April 11, 2017
Tough recipe to cut in half... 1/2 an egg?
 
tamater S. April 17, 2017
I'd probably try it with a whole egg, choosing the smallest one in the carton. Alternatively, you can freeze half the recipe - or give some away, (it might make somebody very happy!).
 
Rhonda35 March 31, 2017
The note at the end of this article states these macaroons are kosher for Passover - I disagree. Kosher macaroons do not contain any milk - not sweetened condensed milk, not butter, not any dairy product. The traditional Passover macaroon is made using egg whites, sugar, coconut and an alcohol-free vanilla extract. - i.e. no dairy. Please correct your Passover and kosher references/tags/etc. in this article so you do not misdirect your readers. :-)
 
Fresh T. March 31, 2017
No. Kosher for Passover means no risen ingredients such as flour. These aren't parve, but they are kosher and kosher for Passover. If you have a dairy meal you can eat these.
 
Rhonda35 March 31, 2017
Okay, thx for the clarification of parve and kosher, Fresh Tomatoes. 😊
 
nancyg March 31, 2017
Hi Laura....that adorable pot is made by Dansk. I have one from 50 years ago, sad to see the price NOW. Here's Amazon's info........ Dansk 833288 Kobenstyle Butter Warmer, Midnight Blue. Also available at BB&B. Hope this helps. Nancy<br />by Dansk
 
amysarah March 31, 2017
I'll be making these for sure - love coconut macaroons and I firmly believe that adding butter and salt to anything (including cardboard) makes it exponentially more delicious.<br /><br />But I also bristled a bit at "wondering where was the butter, where was the fun?" Kind of like saying of an Indian/Hindu specialty, "where's the beef?" Coconut macaroons may not be exclusively Jewish, but they're strongly associated, as already noted. I'd eat them anytime (my family hasn't been kosher for generations) - but perhaps it would be a little smarter not to explicitly label this recipe as for 'Passover.'
 
Fresh T. March 31, 2017
I can't wait to try these!
 
Laura March 30, 2017
These look fantastic but, I have to be honest, my real reason for commenting is trying to figure out where those wooden-handled spouted pots are from?!
 
Shelley H. March 31, 2017
Dansk is the brand .. I just bought two dansk enamel lidded pots and they are wonderful. I'm now going back for another lidded pot, and this cute little wooden handed butter warmer. Excellent pots.
 
Shelley H. March 31, 2017
Oops I bought my online from an Australian company called Amara. But I think I initially found them on Amazon, after seeing them being used in a Jamie Oliver cooking show. Instant pot lust.
 
Kayleigh March 30, 2017
I came down to the comments to say the same thing as Nishis. It's odd to me to see a macaroon recipe with butter in it. Not that it's unheard of or not delicious, but because, as a Passover treat, you'd have to eschew meat from the rest of the meal! (For the more observant at least.) I'll have no trouble making these, as I don't keep kosher and I'm a vegetarian anyway :P but some might take umbrage with the idea.
 
Kayleigh March 30, 2017
I should also say that these look delicious!
 
judy March 30, 2017
I make a version of these using unsweetened coconut. The SCM is plenty sweet and these are really good. And yes, dipped or drizzled with dark chocolate takes them over the top!
 
nishis March 29, 2017
There's a reason there hasn't been widespread adaptation of this "genius" tip: Macaroons don't have typically butter is because they are associated with Passover, so they need to be dairy-free. (In my non-observant family, we're ok serving meat and dairy at the same meal, but many are not). More info here: http://www.cor.ca/view/442/a_brief_history_of_macaroons.html
 
DanaERT March 31, 2017
But wouldn't the sweetened condensed milk negate the dairy-free aspect anyway? Not questioning you - just trying to understand. :)
 
Michele G. March 31, 2017
I agree - if you don't keep Kosher these won't ruffle feathers, but even though I don't keep Kosher, with the exception of the holidays. Then, I keep Kosher so it's more special. I'd serve these during a dairy meal for sure! I've made the others with egg whites and coated with chocolate and ground nuts. There are ways to embellish the old stand by. Love this new recipem thank you for sharing it!
 
Michele G. March 31, 2017
Excuse my typos = I only keep Kosher during holidays as I enjoy the tradition. I'll share with friends who keep Kosher all the time and they will absolutely serve during dairy meals.
 
nishis March 31, 2017
Sweetened condensed milk isn't "traditional" either for the same reason. This is a definite upgrade suitable for a Dairy meal but unlikely to be useful for a traditional Passover seder (meat meal).
 
nishis March 31, 2017
(replying to DanaERT)<br />
 
DanaERT March 31, 2017
Ah, got it - thank you! What is the binder for a traditional version that would be dairy-free? I've only ever made these with coconut and sweetened condensed milk, so I had no idea there was another way!
 
Maggie April 1, 2017
@DanaERT<br /><br />I've only ever made them with egg whites, coconut, almond flour, sugar, and salt -- *I* had no idea there was another way! :) If I could eat dairy, I would be all over the SCM version (SCM is one of those few products for which I've never found a suitable replacement).
 
JulieS March 30, 2018
A little late in a reply, but perhaps you’ll see this? There is sweetend condensed coconut milk out there! Found it in the baking aisle at Whole Foods today!
 
Rosemary L. March 29, 2017
Can chocolate be added?
 
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Kristen M. March 29, 2017
Sure! I haven't tried it but I think a nice dark bittersweet chocolate would be a good complement. Were you thinking of mixing in chocolate chips or dipping them in melted chocolate?
 
Fresh T. March 31, 2017
I'm melt a Lindt 70% chocolate bar and spoon a thin amount on the bottom of my macaroons. I'm positive I'll do the same here.