Chewy chocolate coconut macaroons with a hint of almond and a big dose of semisweet chocolate. It’s the PERFECT Christmas or holiday cookie – a crisp, caramelized outside with a soft inside and mixed up in one bowl. Winner!
a macaroon love affair
The best cookies have a story and so does this one. Back in the day (and I won’t mention how far back), I fell in love with a cookbook series by author and illustrator Susan Branch. I read the first one, The Heart of the Home, cover to cover truly enchanted by Susan’s life and home. She affirmed my family’s beliefs that cooking is a love language. I shared her books with many friends and family members and her Christmas book remains one of my favs.
My sister was, of course, one of the recipients and returned the favor by baking up a batch of these cookies, straight from the book. A true act of love because she knows coconut, chocolate and me go hand-in-hand-in-hand. Let me just say – she’s the BEST for many reasons. But, from that batch forward, a new family tradition began. These cookies have been on every Christmas cookie plate since (ok – cookie “spread”- I am Italian after all).
who invented coconut macaroons?
Not to be confused with the macaron which is a meringue cookie, macaroons are coconut-based. The two are connected as France refined the Italian recipe or was it the other way around? Historians trace them as far back as the 8th or 9th century either originating in France or Italy. The addition of coconut came later as a means to help extend the stability of the cookie when shipping, presumably by freight. Regardless of who invented them, we just know they are good. Darn good.
For some of you, I know coconut is a bad word. It has the same polarizing power as cilantro or beets. You either love it or you hate it. So – if I lose you here, please check out these thumbprint cookies or these whoopie pies and I promise to have some non-coconut morsels coming your way!
how to make a low carb macaroon
I did do some playing around with these little nuggets as I can’t always leave well-enough alone. I got it in my head that trying to find a way to reduce the sugar would be good as sugar is on the “no-no list” for many. I’ll tell you what I tried in the recipe below. It involved experimenting with combinations of sugar with both unsweetened and sweetened coconut. Needless to say, the recipe is written the way it is for a reason. If you’re still Team Coconut – read on…
options to reduce sugar
The recipe calls for flake coconut and I have always used sweetened flake coconut. I made it three ways:
- sweetened coconut and no added sugar
- unsweetened coconut with 1/3 cup of sugar
- the original recipe: sweetened coconut with 2/3 cup of sugar
MAKING MACAROONS AHEAD OF TIME
The beautiful thing about these cookies is you can make them ahead of time and freeze them. You can even dip them in the chocolate ahead of time. A few tips:
- Allow the cookies to cool completely before dipping them in the chocolate
- Make sure the chocolate is completely hard before attempting to freeze them
- I sometimes place my cookie sheet with the dipped cookies on it outside on my porch to help the chocolate to harden quickly. This only works when it’s cold outside.
- Freeze the cookies in freezer bags or a plastic sealed container.
- Try to resist eating a frozen cookie because they are STILL good!
And the winner is….the original recipe! The sugar is a necessary ingredient to achieve the caramelization with the egg whites and gives the exterior and the almonds a toasty, sweet crispness. Version #1 was missing that texture and Version #2 while good, wasn’t AS good. Bottom line: you do have options! If reducing the sugar is a necessity, definitely go with option #2. The good news is that a single one of these cookies makes a perfect treat, especially with some tea or coffee. Or maybe have one for breakfast. Or after lunch. Even better—at midnight during a rehash of a fun holiday party.
chocolate dipped coconut macaroons
A Christmas cookie tradition - sweet coconut with a kiss of almond and big hit of chocolate. They'll go coco-NUTS over these.
- 2 2/3 cup sweetened coconut firmly packed*
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 4 egg whites unbeaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips or bar, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 325°.
Combine coconut, sugar, flour, and almonds. Stir in egg whites and both extracts.
From rounded tablespoons, form balls and place 2" apart on parchment lined or greased cookie sheets.
Bake 20-25 minutes till golden brown. Check at 18 minutes depending on your oven.
Remove from pans and cool on rack.
For chocolate edge:
In a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate in microwave for 30 second increments, stirring in between each. Once the chocolate is 2/3 melted, stir until the remaining chocolate completely melts. The chocolate should be glossy.
(Alternatively, melt chocolate over a double boiler with the same guidelines as above.)
Dip one edge of the cookie into the chocolate and set on wax or parchment paper until completely set.
Can be frozen.
*Low sugar versions:
#1 - use 2 2/3 cups unsweetened coconut and 1/3 cup of sugar
#2 - Use 2 2/3 cups sweetened coconut and NO sugar. You can also try cutting the original 2/3 cup in half ( that's one I didn't try!)