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Coconut Macaroons-Where Did I Go Wrong?

I was very excited about making coconut macaroons for the first time tonight. I had visions of those like at Foster's Market in Durham, NC---insanely huge, very crispy, just enough coconut in the batter but not overwhelmingly so. I used Ina Garten's recipe which happens to be the EXACT same as that posted on Epicurious.com. Basically, it is two large egg whites beaten to medium firm peaks w/ 1/4 tspn of salt; in separate bowl, mix 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 tspn vanilla, 1 bag of sweetened coconut flakes. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, bake at 325 degrees.

The cookies immediately started to spread and puddle when I put them into the oven. Also, it seemed to take almost double the 25-30 min it should have taken to bake the cookies. My oven tends to run a little hot and not under the stated temperature. They also stuck horribly to my silpat and also did not brown properly around the edges. They were still okay in taste but definitely not what I was hoping to eat.

Two questions:
1) Why did the cookies puddle? I've read lots of reviews for different macaroon recipes where half state this same thing happened to them.
2) How can I get my cookies to have a great coconut flavor, have a nice height to them, but have the same shine and chewy tenderness that a parisian macaroon has? I've seen some recipes that use flour or angel food cake mix. Could that solve my problem?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. i'm sure others will chime in to give you other ideas, but it sounds to me like you overbeat your egg whites, altering the proteins, and the puddling resulted from the resulting separation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Emme

      I made the exact recipe a few weeks ago and experience some spreading even after chiling the dough for a few hours in the fridge as directed. It was okay in taste (actually quite good especially aftr drizzled with dark chocolate) and I enjoyed eating the trimmings. They did take much longer to cook and stuck to my parchment paper if I tried to remove them before they were completely cool. Someone told me to add a tablespoon of fine flour or cornstarch to next batch. I probably won't make them again until Christmas

    2. I'm no expert on macaroons or anything but it could have been the humidity. Humidity often affects how a meringue turns out so it could be affecting your cookies. Another tip would be to maybe let the cookies dry out a little before baking them. Drying works for french macarons but I'm not sure about coconut ones.

      1. I made coconut macaroons two weeks ago. I wasn't thrilled with them, but they definitely didn't puddle. It was a recipe I'd cut out of New York Magazine. (Please don't ask me why I was trusting a recipe from New York Magazine. I think it was because they were described as "gooey." But they weren't gooey enough for me.) They tasted okay, did have great coconut flavor, didn't flatten, and didn't stick. I just didn't like the texture very much. No shine, and not enough of the "chewy tenderness" both of us seem to be searching for. Would you settle for three out of five? Just kidding, of course. But if you're interested in fiddling with it, here's a link to the recipe: http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/...

        1. I live in Alabama and it did rain some yesterday afternoon. It was a little humid yesterday and I suspect that probably did affect the beaten egg whites.

          From doing some research last night, I have a feeling that I am looking for more cake-like macaroons w/finer bits of coconuts rather than the big flakes. I'm going to play around w/it tonight and I will post back.

          Thanks everyone!

          3 Replies
          1. re: gyp7318

            When you are beating the egg whites add about 1/8 tsp to them to help stablize them so the will be less prone to deflating from any fat in the condensed milk.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Yeah, no more is needed or just a few drops of lemon juice. The same goes for making souffles. If you get too much in the souffle of macroons will be bitter.

          2. If it's a crisp, tall macaroon you want, you simply won't get it with a recipe with condensed milk. You'll get moist and chewy--it's the nature of the ingredient.

            A recipe with just egg whites, sugar, coconut and flavorings should give you a result more like what you're after.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sfmiller

              I made the recipe from David Lebovitz' book last month-- they were wonderful. I'm not sure what a Parisian macaroon is like, but these are very crisp and tall--

              8 egg whites
              2 1/2 cups sugar
              1/2 tsp salt
              2 T honey
              5 cups unsw. coconut
              1/2 cup flour
              1 tsp vanilla
              (he calls for dipping them in melted bittersweet choc. afterwards; I didn't bother)

              In a heavy pan, warm the egg whites, sugar, salt, and honey-- till warm to the touch--stirring over medium heat.

              Stir in coconut, flour and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly until it's slightly dry and starts to sizzle on the bottom of the pot.

              When cool enough to handle, form into mounds with your fingers and space on parchment lined cookie sheets.

              My husband, who is a real lover of macaroons, went nuts over these.

              Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating and switching racks so that they cook evenly.

              1. re: DGresh

                Interesting recipe. It's really close to the one I used, except I didn't cook the whole batter in the pan on the stove. BTW, I wonder if I can use sweetened coconut. Did you have any problems w/the cookies "weeping" in the oven and spreading out?

            2. I attempted another batch of macaroons, this time using the Cook's Illustrated recipe another Chowhounder posted a while back---found it during a search. In a nutshell, the paraphrased recipe calls for a 14 oz bag of sweetened coconut flakes to be pulsed in a food processor for over a minute until the flakes are almost powdery. Add 1.5 cups of sugar and pulse again until blended. Add 1/3 cup +1 tbspn of egg white along w/flavoring of your choice (I used 1/2 tspn of vanilla extract) and blend again until kind of slushy. I added some water to achieve this consistency. Form into 2 tbspn size balls and bake at 325 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

              I just pulled these out of the oven. They seemed to take forever to brown---over 40 minutes---and probably could have stayed in there longer but I was worried they would be too dry. Verdict? I liked the fact there weren't big coconut flakes in the cookie and there was more of that chewy texture I was looking for. However, they were terribly oversweet, in my opinion. The poster said that they experimented w/reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe but they all came out too dry and recommended using the full amount.

              Any more suggestions?

              1. Yes. The Ina Garten recipe appears to have way too much liquid. The batter should be extremely thick -- like a thick sludge or concrete.

                Here's Mark Bittman's recipe -- EXTREMELY easy…and FAST – you don’t whip the egg whites!) They taste fantastic...

                Coconut Macaroons, makes about 2 dozen

                3/4 cup sugar
                2-1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
                2 egg whites
                1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                Pinch salt

                Paraphrased procedure: Place all ingredients in bowl and combine using your hands (or rubber spatula). The mixture will be very thick. Use silpat or parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Use your hands again to make little 2 T. globs and place on baking sheet.
                Bake for 15 minutes at 350 till light brown. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes.
                Experiment with making large cone- or pyramid-shaped globs of batter for desired shape,
                and increasing baking time (watch carefully!)

                I used this recipe as the batter for the top of a fruit "cobber" in this chowhound thread:

                I also did a version with the addition of sliced almonds...also in the above thread.

                Good luck. I adore macaroons!

                8 Replies
                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Thanks for the recipe. Can one find unsweetened shredded coconut easily? I've only found the sweetened kind in the regular grocery store. What is the texture of the finished cookie?

                  1. re: gyp7318

                    Just use the sweetened and eliminate the sugar. The texture is flaky because of the coconut, moist and a lovely mixture of both light and dense. It will take you about a half-hour from start to finish.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I made another batch of macaroons using this recipe. Although it was a pretty cookie finished, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for more of a balance between the cookie and an actual cookie. This would probably be good for the coconut purists, since that was pretty much all I could taste as well as feel texture wise. Thanks anyway!

                      On to the next recipe.....

                    2. re: gyp7318

                      I had some difficulty finding unsweetened coconut for the recipe I mentioned above but finally found an organic brand that was unsweetened. Perhaps a health food store? or a market that carries a large selection of organic products?

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Indian groceries routinely have unsweetened shredded coconut in the freezer cases -- really, any asian themed grocer should.

                        1. re: litchick

                          Good tip. I bet it has a great flavor, too.

                      2. re: gyp7318

                        Have you tried the frozen section? I routinely buy frozen unsweetened coconut in the freezer section of some seriously crappy grocery stores. It's not a bad product, and I use it in fresh coconut cake when I'm too lazy to crack open and grate a real one.

                      3. re: maria lorraine

                        Thanks too-the pyramid shape is exactly what I am looking for...topped with a glacee cherry, I hope they will be like the ones I remember form my childhood. As soon as it cools down (please!), I will try this recipe out.

                      4. I broke down and bought Sara Foster's cookbook to get the recipe for the delicious macaroons. It doesn't resemble any of the recipes I've come across in researching this issue. It requires stirring egg whites, sugar, honey, and vanilla over a double boiler for about 10 minutes and using that as a base for the cookie. The dry ingredients (cocnut and flour) are mixed in and then the batter is covered and chilled in the fridge. I'll have to give that a shot maybe this weekend.

                        Is this an unusual recipe for this type of cookie? I'm awfully curious.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gyp7318

                          I finally had time to make Sara Foster's macaroons. It was fairly simple, but it took 10 minutes to make the wet portion of the batter. It consisted of 7 egg whites, 2 tsp of vanilla, 2 cups f sugar, and 2 tbspn of honey. The directions said to stir this over a double boiler for 8 to 10 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. This is then added to 16 oz of coconut mixed w/1 1/2 cups of flour tossed together. The batter is chilled for at least an hour.

                          When I baked it (300F oven), I had the same problem as the other recipes and the liquid started weeping. The cookie was tasty but VERY flat. I added additional flour to the remaining batter and just pulled the cookies out of the oven. They had a little bit more height but the cookie itself was definitely more cakey and not at all what I was looking for.

                          Any suggestions? BTW, after I cooked the wet part of the batter, it looked and tasted just like sweetened condensed milk. .

                        2. I just experimented with Ina Garten's macaroon recipe....I cut the egg whites in half, added 1TBS flour to coconut and condensed milk mixture (I use almond flavoring). I couldn't find my silpats so I sprayed my mini muffin pans (any size will work) and baked them ...325 for about 21 minutes....beautifully browned, soft and chewy....not bad...let me know what you think ( be sure to let them cool before you try to remove)

                          1. I have a very simple recipe. Not sure whether it will satisfy your desired chewiness level, but it's worth a shot. It's more like the Bounty filling.

                            1 egg for every 100 g (3.5 oz) of coconut flakes and sugar (i.e 3.5 oz sugar and 3.5 oz coconut flakes). Mix everything together, make little balls and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The oven should be at 300-350F.

                            1. Here's the (simple) recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini blog.

                              I think I did something similar for Passover -- Mark Bittman or Joan Nathan (? I forget)
                              But they were simple and delicious. No condensed milk in the vicinity.

                              1. I finally have macaroon success! I redid the Foster's Market (NC) recipe AGAIN and got the cookie I'm been dreaming about. I had to alter the baking time and temperature but other than that, it turned out great. I got great height on the cookie, had a nice sheen on the outside, and was very crispy and chewy on the outside but tender on the inside.

                                Here is the paraphrased recipe including my alterations:

                                7 lg egg whites
                                2.5 C of sugar
                                2 tbspn honey
                                2 tspn vanilla extract
                                6 C sweetened coconut flakes
                                1.4 C all purpose flour

                                In a large metal or glass bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Put it over a pot w/simmering water in it. Constantly stir the mixture for about 10 minutes and remove from pot. The sugar will be dissolved and the mixture will look very glossy and be light beige in color and opaque. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and coconut flakes and toss until incorporated thoroughly. Stir this into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined. Note: this should be VERY thick at this point. Cover and chill for at least an hour, preferably at least 2 hours.

                                Preheat the oven to 325. Scoop mixture using a small-medium ice cream scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. The mixture will be very thick and quite sugary. Bake from 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan immediately and onto a cooling rack. Enjoy!

                                Notes: The recipe stated to bake at 300 degrees. I could not get sufficient browning on the cookie using this temperature, even when I cooked it almost 25 minutes. My oven has always been fine w/other recipes so I don't think it's that. I had better results cranking up the heat to 325. Also, When cooking the sugar/egg white mixture, I used a large spoon this time vs a whisk the first time. I also cooked the mixture a full 10 minutes instead of 8 minutes and that seemed to help.

                                Enjoy! This is quite a delicious cookie. It looks like the 4th batch was the charm. :)