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 cookbookRustic 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.
The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."