The last time I made macaroons was for Mother’s Day a few years back and it didn’t go great. The dough was really, really sticky and the parchment paper stuck like super glue to the bottom of each cookie; I spent the last few minutes before we left the house furiously trying to scrape off the paper and finally gave up, presenting them to my unsuspecting family with a halfhearted “Here are some macaroons. They probably suck because there’s paper stuck to the bottom.” It wasn’t my proudest baking moment (sadly, not my least proud baking moment, either).
I shied away from macaroons after that experience, writing them off as a too difficult, not-worth-the-hassle treat. That is, until I was gifted these baking mats by my mother-in-law Cathie for Christmas. I’ve used them dozens of times and they’ve worked out great for me so far, but in the back of my mind I knew that macaroons would be the ultimate test (spoiler alert: they worked wonders with even the most difficult of cookie. Success!).
I spied some coconut macaroons at a lunch spot near work a few weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about them since. Coupled with the fact that they’ve been creeping around the back of my mind anyways since my last ill-fated attempt, I made it my mission to give them another go. And because my wacko pregnancy brain has been jonesin’ for citrus pretty hard lately, I figured I would kick it up a notch and try a lime coconut version.
If you’re wondering whether I’ve been singing Put The Lime In The Coconut ever since, the answer is yes, I most certainly have been. I’ll give you a minute to listen to that song on YouTube.
There appears to be two schools of thought when it comes to macaroons – the condensed milk version and the egg white version. Both seem to produce pretty solid cookies, so I decided to work off of a recipe from Paula Deen (found here) that uses both. I really love how these came out – they’re soft and chewy and (somehow, because there isn’t any butter in them) buttery, and the hint of lime works so well with the coconut without being overwhelming. Working off of a tip that I saw in the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, I ran the coconut through a food processor for a few beats so that the cookies weren’t quite as stringy and overly-chewy as macaroons are wont to be, but this step is optional.
And then, because I’m nothing if not reckless, I dipped some of them in chocolate.
Lime Coconut Macaroons
makes: 36-40 cookies / prep time: 10 minutes / bake time: 20-25 minutes
adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe, found here
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 (14-oz can) sweetened condensed milk
- the zest of 1 lime (approximately 2 tablespoons lime zest)
- the juice of 2 limes (3-4 teaspoons lime juice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 14-oz bags of sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with baking mats (or parchment paper lightly sprayed with a non-stick baking spray). Optional step: run the coconut through a food processor, pulsing for 30 seconds. Whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes. Stir in the condensed milk, the lime zest and juice, and the vanilla extract until combined. Gently fold in the coconut until combined. Using a spring-loaded scoop or your hands (note: wet your hands first), mold the mixture into mounds or patties about 1.5-2 inches across and place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, switching racks and rotating sheets halfway through baking, until lightly browned. Transfer the sheets to wire racks and let them cool completely before serving.