Who doesn’t like coconut? Coconut is one of those foods that is so immensely versatile that it can be used in desserts and savory dishes alike. I am amazed that one fruit can be transformed into: cream of coconut, coconut oil, coconut flakes, coconut milk, and coconut water, producing an almost infinite number of dishes you can possibly cook. So when the bloggers from Trang’s Kitchen Table and Ann’s Bites created a “Coconut Lovers’ Collaboration”, I jumped at the chance.
To be honest, I tend to use coconut as a secondary ingredient, for example, the coconut flakes coating the sides of an alfajor, or as one of the ingredients in a seven-layer bar. And this would be true if it weren’t for the very necessary existence of Jewish macaroons. At home, we observe both Jewish and Christian holidays, and in the past we have relied on macaroons during the 8-day observance of Passover during which no flour or leavening agents can be consumed. (That 8-day stretch is really something unless you have a macaroon handy!) In Spanish, we call them coquitos, and one would never think of Passover without the presence of the quintessential coconut macaroon gracing the table. For the past few years, I confess my husband and I have observed Passover with Manischewitz coconut macaroons, but homemade macaroons have a more delicate texture and are not as cloyingly sweet, so this year, I made my own.
Homemade macaroons are always made with egg whites, sugar, and coconut. Some recipes add vanilla extract, almond flour, or sweetened condensed milk. And there are a lot of really fun iterations out there that have taken this Italian Jewish cookie a long way from its origins: there’s Molly Yeh’s colorful funfetti macaroon; a variety of chocolate chip macaroons; and the “overnight macaroons” by Jamie Geller which stay in the oven 8 hours or more to achieve their signature texture. I wanted a recipe that included fresh fruit, complemented the coconut flavor, and had a distinct spring flavor to it, so I shared with the collaboration my recipe for strawberry orange macaroons. Coconut is still the star ingredient in this cookie and it does follow all of the Passover guidelines, so if you’re looking for a different version of macaroons for Passover, or you are interested in a snack that is healthy, gluten free and dairy free, this is the recipe for you! The addition of finely chopped strawberries and orange zest not only gives it a wonderfully fruity flavor, but it’s amazingly aromatic as well. This recipe yields a macaroon that is super moist and chewy and just the tiniest bit crispy around the edges. It’s fairly tender, so if you want them to hold their shape for longer, you can dip the bottoms in melted ruby chocolate. The fruity notes of the ruby cacao complement the macaroons perfectly and the chocolate gives some more structure to the bottom of the cookie so it doesn’t come apart as easily. But again, dipping them in chocolate is completely optional! You can still get a very good macaroon if you want to omit this step.
Thank you so much to Trang’s Kitchen Table and Anne’s Bites for the opportunity to join their Coconut Lovers Collab. I saw so many wonderful recipes that inspired me to use coconut in different ways, including Anne-Marie’s coconut jam bars and coconut shrimp, Trang’s Samoa-inspired coconut buns, and Elise’s coconut pineapple ice cream. Hop on Instagram to check out some of these recipes under #coconutloverscollab!
I hope you will try the recipe below. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious, and comes together in only a few steps. It’s really worth it.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 12 cookies
- 4 egg whites
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp orange peel, preferably from a Cara Cara orange
- 2 cups of finely-shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
- 2 ¾ cups sweetened shredded coconut flakes
- 2/3 cup finely diced strawberries
- 3 oz ruby cacao chocolate (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, salt, and sugar until stiff peaks form (as if you were making merengue).
- Add in the vanilla and almond extracts, followed by the orange zest, making sure they are well incorporated.
- Gently fold in the finely-shredded coconut and the sweetened coconut, ½ cup at a time.
- Pat the mixture with a spoon, compressing it into a firm dough. You could also use your hands to massage the mixture.
- Cover the bowl and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- While the mixture sits in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 325°F and line a pan with parchment.
- Dice the strawberries to pieces 1/8 inch in length. Spread them on a paper towel and blot to dry.
- After the dough has chilled, fold in the diced strawberries gently with a spatula.
- Using a cookie scoop, place about 2-3 tbsp of the mixture lightly onto the baking sheet. The dough is too thick to be piped through a pastry bag, so making near, round mounds is the best way to shape the cookies.
- Bake until golden, about 22 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to cook on the baking sheets so they firm up. If you want to move them while they are still warm, they will crumble apart. If you want to dip the bottoms in ruby chocolate or normal chocolate. Make sure they don’t come apart as you come into contact with the hot chocolate.
- Store in a tightly covered container like a cookie tin in the refrigerator for 4 days. They can also freeze pretty well, up to 6 weeks.