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How-To

How to Make Coconut Macaroons

Dan Cohen makes playfully flavored, utterly delicious versions of a classic coconut treat.

April/May 2015 Issue
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If there’s such a thing as macaroon season, this is it. Because they have no flour or leavening, these coconutty confections are popular at Passover tables. So it’s kind of funny that I, the founder of Danny Macaroons, was raised in a Jewish home but didn’t grow up eating them. It was actually a friend’s Passover dinner that got me into the macaroon business. But more on that in a minute.

First, let me explain exactly what a macaroon is: It’s a cookie of sorts, made with a nut “flour” (coconut in this case), lightened with egg whites, and sweetened. The end result has a soft, chewy center with a slightly crisped exterior. Think gently toasted marshmallow kissed by coconut.

Now back to that dinner. When I was in college, a friend mentioned he couldn’t wait to go home for Passover to eat some macaroons. When I got home, I asked my mom why we never made macaroons. She had no answer and (nicely) suggested I make them myself. So I did—good thing they’re easy— and my family loved them. The next year, I made them again. The year after that, I didn’t and was promptly warned I’d be banished from future gatherings if I didn’t start making them again. My uncle’s mother-in-law even started pestering me, in her persistent, Brooklyn-bred Jewish accent, to start selling them so other people could enjoy them, too.

I really wasn’t looking for a future in macaroons, so I shrugged off her nagging—I mean, encouraging. But her words must have penetrated, because when a new coffee shop opened near my home in New York City, I dropped off some macaroons. The shop owners loved them and asked if I could make more to sell. Soon, I was lugging macaroons all over the city, peddling them to stores and restaurants that embraced them enthusiastically, I think because most macaroons you can buy are cloyingly sweet and use extracts and oils that create a flavor reminiscent of suntan oil. Mine, made only with a hint of vanilla, are natural-tasting and not too sweet.

Still, I knew if I wanted to build a macaroon empire, I needed some varieties. Though I love plain macaroons, I find their vanilla coconut flavor pretty mild. I began to look at them as blank canvases for creating super delicious flavors with spices, nuts, jellies, and extracts, and as vehicles for toppings like caramel and sesame seeds.

Today, my company, Danny Macaroons, makes more than 45 different flavors—they’re my way of making macaroon season year-round. Here are some of my favorites so you can help the cause.

Get the recipes: 
Coconut Macaroons
Pistachio Macaroons
Cherry-Lime Macaroons
Cinnamon-Chocolate-Cayenne Macaroons
Salted Sesame Caramel Macaroons
Chocolate Dipped Macaroons
Cappuccino Macaroons
Chocolate Stout Macaroons

Macaroons, step by step

Combine the condensed milk and vanilla. The milk helps give macaroons their characteristic slightly sticky texture while pure vanilla extract rounds out the flavor.
Thoroughly mix in the coconut. Doing this now allows you to fold gently when adding the egg whites.
Add whipped egg whites. The airy whites lighten the dense elements. Mix gently, using a lift-and-fold motion to keep them from deflating.
Shape into balls and bake. The bottoms of the macaroons can spread a bit during baking, so leave some space between each on the baking sheets.

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