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May 15, 2009 12:59 PM

coconut macaroons

i don't know what is the matter, but every time i try to make coconut macaroons they come out in a flat mess. my girls love, love, LOVE the ones we get at whole foods. they are about the size of a golf ball and sweet, moist and tender. i was hoping that someone might have a great recipe that they wouldn't mind sharing.

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  1. Try this one from Alton Brown:

    I've made them for two past Christmases, and they're always a hit. I don't bother with the macadamia nuts on top, but it doesn't matter, they are the pinnacle of awesomeness.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SgtStens

      i will try them tomorrow and report back. i can't wait! thanks so much for your reply!

      1. re: raygunclan

        If I make them without chocolate chips would I have to adjust the recipe in any way? I am not a baker so I have no clue. Thanks.

        1. re: SIMIHOUND

          They are just fine without the chocolate and the hazelnuts on top, but I'm a sucker for chocolate.

    2. The one on the back of the Baker's Angel Flake coconut bag is terrific.
      Easiest one around and never screws up. Ever.
      Total classic.

      1. Mark Bittman's NY Times recipe is brilliant and foolproof.

        But I shape mine into baby Matterhorns about 2.5" tall, and squeeze the tops to make a tiny peak, so they look like they belong in a pastry-shop window. 30 minutes start to finish. Parchment paper is key. Use as much egg white as needed, but not too much.

        Did you use the Ina Garten recipe? Because her recipe has too much liquid and often results in flat cookies. But I swear Bittman's recipe is da bomb.

        9 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          What makes Bittman's recipe so foolproof is its simplicity. There's no need to add condensed milk or other flourishes and it seems that those send recipes down the the wrong path. I do like almond extract better than his vanilla though.

          For those who have difficulty finding unsweetened coconut - and that is a problem sometimes or it means another stop while out shopping - the Baker's Coconut recipe is basically the same since the coconut is already sweetened and you simply don't add as much sugar when you make the macaroons. The original 1962 recipe calls for 2 T AP flour.
          It's two paths to the same destination for really simple, all-coconut flavor and foolproof success.

          1. re: MakingSense

            I find unsweetened coconut at stores with foods in bulk, like Whole Foods, and at some Asian food stores. However, I've made macaroons many times using the sweetened coconut and just eliminated the sugar in the recipe. It's a snap.

            Another thing I've done in the past (though it isn't at all necessary) is to grind some of the coconut into a powder (I have several coffee grinders for pepper, spices, etc.), and that coconut powder serves as a binder or thickener, much like the AP flour Making Sense mentions.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              I like the small texture that one usually finds in unsweetened coconut. Sometimes, I'll whiz the Baker's in the food processor for a couple of seconds. Makes a nice macaroon.
              Great idea for the coconut powder.
              Mostly, I like the simplicity of both of these recipes. Pure coconut!

          2. re: maria lorraine

            Are there any alternatives to white sugar that would impart the same texture/taste?

            1. re: isadorasmama

              None that work as well as sugar, IMO. But...

              I have a close friend with diabetes for whom I bake fairly frequently. I substituted Trader Joe's Stevia (the best in flavor I've found) for the sugar in Bittman’s macaroon recipe. The macaroons turned out fairly well, with a slight fall-off in texture, height and flavor. But I also recently made a nectarine cobbler with Splenda for my friend that worked out quite well in flavor.

              I'd probably use Splenda were I to make the Bittman macaroons without sugar again. In the past, I've simply added Splenda until the "batter" tasted sweet enough and have not measured it or used equivalence charts.

              But substituting sugar in baking recipes is quite tricky. One of the most interesting things about sugar is that even though sugar it is a solid, in baking it is considered a wet ingredient because it dissolves so quickly. So when using a sugar alternative, it's a good idea to tweak your dry-to-wet ingredients ratio to match that of the original recipe. Secondly, when you cream together butter and sugar (like you would when beginning a batch of cookies or cake), there is actually a chemical "re-structuring" of those ingredients that takes place and that helps form the final structure of the baked good. You can't cream butter with sugar substitutes, or if you can, I'm not aware of it. Luckily, the Bittman macaroons and many baking recipes don't require creaming, so Splenda/stevia work fairly well.

              I can't comment on other sugar alternatives like agave or honey because I don't know their final impact on flavor or structure. Macaroons have a clean coconut flavor, and my guess is that using agave or honey would alter that clean flavor profile too much for my liking. Here is a good Chowhound thread on agave in baking:

              Your reason for avoiding sugar in baking is key. If you are baking for someone with diabetes, then that will lead you in a specific direction to certain sugar alternatives and to specific baking recipes that don't require creaming.

              If, instead, your reason for avoiding sugar in baking is to consume a "healthier" sugar alternative, then caution is advised. There are many marketing lies foisted upon the public about the "health" of "natural" sugar, honey, agave (good for avoiding insulin spikes but terrible for your body in other respects), xylitol (and other sugar alcohols) and artificial sweeteners. I'm not certain that any of these (and I try to keep up on the science) are any healthier than sugar.

              If it’s sugar-induced “hyperactivity” in children you're trying to avoid, then please make sure you are reading the latest *credible* medical information to know what’s really what. A lot of the old infomation is terribly inaccurate.

              Sometimes plain ole cane sugar in moderation is actually the healthiest among sweeteners. It certainly leads to the best results in baking.

              Sorry for the long-winded answer, but since baking is chemistry, substituting one ingredient for another often does not yield the chemical reactions required for the baked item to look and taste like it's supposed to.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Thank you so much for this well thought out response.
                As far as I know the only sugar substitute that doesn't cause a sugar spike is stevia, In terms of health I'd say that honey and maple syrup are among the healthiest forms of sugar, especially when used judiciously.
                I react to most sweeteners - jittery, mood swings, gut issues, previous gestational diabetes/family history of type 2 diabetes yada yada - so I use stevia (glycerite) most often although I find the taste pretty lousy.
                Interestingly, I don't react to negatively to agave but am trying to wean myself off because of its questionable healthfulness.

                I steer clear of Splenda. Highly processed and chlorinated.

                The thing that gets me about the Bittman recipe is how much sugar is used. One cup is a ton, especially for those of us who want to limit processed sweets. Hmmm, maybe I need to just stop pretending I can eat things like coconut macaroons, lol.

                1. re: isadorasmama

                  Like I said, navigating the truth about sugar and other sweeteners is tricky territory because there are *so many lies* and *agendas* operating.

                  As far as honey or maple sugar being healthier than sugar, some more reading may be helpful. And not just any online reading, but current scientific reading that points out the true differences between honey, maple syrup, HFCS and sugar.

                  The same goes for the chlorine used to create Splenda, and whether or not
                  that chlorine affects the human body in an adverse fashion. Read a little something about industrial chlorines and elemental chlorine, and the difference between them and chlorides. Learn a small amount about the chlorides in foods, like salt and vegetables, and the amount of chloride that's always in human blood and in the stomach and required for existence. Compare that to the amount of chloride in a packet of Splenda.

                  You don't have to read extensively, just read good-quality information and enough of it to be able to detect baloney when it's thrown at you.

                  I just don't want you to make your sweetener decision based on any information with an agenda to make you believe something or buy something. Don't believe all that you read online or hear in health food stores. Don't believe me even, even though it's my job to always stay current with these food science/chemistry questions. Make sure you read actual unbiased *current* scientific information. After informing yourself that way, chart a course that's best for you (and your individual health concerns) and your family.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    ITA. I've been trying to stay in the loop and researching this for years. It's frustrating and nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction - unless you are an expert in food science/chemistry. I'm not, although I have been to school to study nutrition.
                    I'd love to see the unbiased information you are speaking of - do you have access to it online or in pdf?
                    What I've read about Splenda is that the amount of sucralose it contains is controversial -- that it hasn't been properly studied in such quantities and can negatively effect the thymus and the good bacteria in the gut. So even if it does appear naturally in produce in small quantities that could pose different bodily reactions than a heavily processed sugar substitute, no?

                    What I know about xylitol is that it's regarded as a safe sweetener for dental health and the one potential s/e is loose bowels.

                    I had been using agave but I'm dubious now. Apparently it's highly processed and has a high concentration of fructose similar to hfcs.

                    My common sense tells me that if something is occurring in nature it's probably less detrimental to the body than something that is highly processed. That said, I think we'd all be better off avoiding sugars entirely except those in whole foods.

                    1. re: isadorasmama

                      I'd read anything by Marion Nestle. I'd also go to the IFIC site, and to PubMed, the National Library of Medicine.

          3. I've made excellent macaroons with Martha Stewart's recipe -- using unsweetened coconut purchased at my food co-op.

            4 Replies
            1. re: NYchowcook

              I, too, have made Martha Stewart's macaroons a number of times for Passover and they come out great. But we make the chocolate chunk variety. I get the coconut at Whole Foods.


              1. re: valerie

                you should try the macaroons at whole foods. truly, they are fantastic. well, in my opinion. (c;

                1. re: raygunclan

                  you should try the Martha Stewart macaroons -- they're sweet, moist and tender! (I don't have a Whole Foods nearby to compare)
                  And easy, to boot!

                  1. re: NYchowcook

                    there is a ms recipe for macaroons that has orange zest -- so delicious that i asked for the recipe from a caterer about their delicious macaroons. found out it was martha stewart's recipe.

            2. These are my favorite and I make then every year - so easy, too (plus I make lemon bars from the egg yolks I don't use!).