Light, sweet and oh so coconuty, there’s no doubt why coconut macaroons are a must for Passover.
There is no treat more synonymous with Passover than the coconut macaroon. They are crafted from pretty simple ingredients: coconut, egg whites, sugar, yet they can yield widely different results. It really comes down to preference and often, tradition.
Most of us are pretty particular about our holiday meals. We want those dishes, flavors and smells that we grew up with, that remind us of home. But for me, Passover is a holiday that I only began to celebrate as an adult, after I met my husband. I had no relationship with kugel, matzo or farfel. And most of the desserts I was used to making contained flour or dairy or both.
But when we are welcomed into a new family we get to experience new traditions and customs, many related to food. In my family it just wasn’t Christmas Eve without my Dad’s onion pizza, a thick onion and olive sauce sandwiched between two pizza doughs and baked (kind of a cross between a pizza and a calzone). And for my husband’s family on Passover it’s matzo ball soup (the texture and consistency of the ball is always a hot topic), gefilte fish served with spicy horseradish (the spicier the better if you ask me) and brisket, among other favorites.
But dessert never seemed as eagerly anticipated as the rest of the meal. Perhaps because everyone is stuffed to the gills and a little tired after a long meal. But like my youngest son I have a sweet tooth and as he always says, a second stomach for dessert. I can always find room for a bite of something sweet and a strong cup of coffee. And rest assured there is never a shortage of sweets after the Seder meal: big bowls of fresh fruit salad, cookies, cakes and of course, coconut macaroons.
I have a special place in my heart for coconut, passed down from my Dad. His favorite desserts are without question lemon meringue pie and coconut cake, (he’s a wise man) so it made sense that I had to try my hand at coconut macaroons. I’ve made them every which way over the years, dense triangles, barely-sweet piped coconut meringues, others sticky and sweetened with condensed milk, chocolate drizzled and chocolate dipped, you get the idea. I honestly like them all for different reasons, but I think I’ve finally landed on my favorite.
This recipe calls for half sweetened/half unsweetened coconut, which yields a pleasantly sweet, but not cloying macaroon. I whip the eggs with sugar to achieve that airy texture, as opposed to using sweetened condensed milk or cooking the whites with sugar on the stove which makes for a dense macaroon. I also love the addition of vanilla bean, giving the macaroons a big pop of vanilla flavor and tiny speckles sprinkled throughout.
Now remember, these coconut confections are a different animal entirely from French macarons. Those are pretty little sandwich cookies made with almond flour, often brightly colored and filled and flavored with a wide range of ingredients. The coconut macaroon, as no surprise, is all about the coconut. It typically contains some form of sweetener and egg whites, either whipped, cooked or simply stirred in. If you’re a coconut lover, you might want these in their purest form, but sometimes a little chocolate drizzled over the top is in order. Either way, they are sure to be gobbled up and a welcome addition to the holiday table.
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean scraped and pod discarded
- 7 oz sweetened coconut flakes
- 7 oz unsweetened coconut flakes
- *melted semi-sweet chocolate for drizzling if desired
- **1 ½ inch scoop
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment.
Add egg whites to a clean, dry bowl and whip to soft peaks
Slowly add the sugar to the whites, then the salt and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks.
Add the scraped vanilla bean and the coconut flakes and using a spatula, carefully fold until just combined.
Using the scoop or a spoon, place rounded mounds of the mixture on the lined pans and bake for about 15 mins or until the cookies are set and just beginning to brown.
Drizzle with chocolate if desired.