I love making macaroons when I'm bringing dessert for a group because they're naturally gluten free and pretty much everyone loves them! This version is extra elegant and I think it would be perfect for a fancier event (or just to make an ordinary one feel special). The key is using coconut chips instead of normal shredded coconut - I found them in the bulk section of my grocery store, and they're definitely worth seeking out. They're larger and crunchier than shredded coconut, and they make for a very pretty cookie with a crispy outside and a soft inside. I used ground vanilla beans to flavor these cookies since I had some on hand, which lends a speckled look and a particularly intense vanilla flavor, but vanilla extract will work just as well. I couldn't resist adding a bit of chocolate on top of each cookie. I added the chocolate right after the cookies came out of the oven, so that it melted all on its own - way easier (and less messy) than dipping macaroons in melted chocolate, with the same flavors. I love how the slightly bitter chocolate pairs with the sweet vanilla-and-coconut macaroons: perfection!
Elegant Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate (adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich, via food52)
Makes 2-3 dozen
4 large egg whites
3-1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut (also known as coconut chips
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground vanilla (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
Chunks of chocolate
1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine the egg whites, coconut, sugar, ground vanilla, and salt in a large heatproof bowl (preferably stainless steel). Set in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl often, until the mixture is very hot and the egg whites have thickened slightly (5-7 minutes. Cover loosely and set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Make heaps of batter on the baking sheet - I used a tablespoon scoop to measure mine, but you can make the cookies any size you wish. Bake about 5 minutes, just until the tips of the coconut begin to color, and then rotate the baking sheets in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cookies are cream colored with deep brown edges.
5. Immediately press one chocolate chunk into the top of each macaroon (the hot cookies will do the melting for you!).
6. Slide the parchment off the baking sheets and onto wire racks. Let cool completely, and then gently peel the parchment off the cookies.