I had a mad craving for something sweet, just one small bite, and I wanted it right now! No, a piece of fruit wouldn't do, neither would cinnamon toast. Dark chocolate baking chips didn't appeal and the freezer held no ice cream. Dang! there was a serious shortage of tempting sweets in my kitchen. Emergency averted - Coconut Macaroons to the rescue. Note: not the fancy, fussy meringue-based European macarons made with almond flour, egg whites, and sugars, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. No way! These macaroons were the sticky mounds of coconut and condensed milk; Mom's midwestern version with crisp, browned exterior and a soft, chewy centers. Macaroons, not macarons.
My holiday cookie enthusiasm left extra packages of shredded coconut and cans of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry. I'm not wildly fond of coconut desserts, so it's easy to forget about macaroons. Suddenly, these cookies seemed perfect - it was a semi-emergency. Fast and easy to prepare, those unfussy mounds of coconut were the perfect solution to my sudden sweet tooth craving. RL loves macaroons, so none were wasted after I enjoyed one or two... or maybe three.
Occasionally I dip the flat bottoms in melted chocolate, or drizzle zigzags of melted dark chocolate across the tops. Chocolate dresses up the appearance, even tempting coconut-averse chocolate lovers to try a coconut macaroon. This time I baked a half-batch and skipped the chocolate dipping or drizzles. The cookies lasted several days, their exteriors initially crisp but growing soft and chewy after a stay in the cookie jar. No complaints were registered with the cook, however.
Easy Coconut Macaroons
Yield: 3 dozen cookies
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups shredded coconut (sweetened, moist, Bakers brand)
1/4 tsp salt
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp almond extract (or substitute vanilla extract)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet, or cover with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2. Mix flour, coconut and salt together in a bowl. Add condensed milk and vanilla; stir well by hand to make a thick batter.
3. Use a cookie or ice-cream scoop to form cookies; place on baking sheet, allowing an inch or two of space between cookies. Bake for 15-20 minutes*, or until just golden brown. Remove from pan at once, and cool on baking racks.
*Baking time will vary with size and height of scooped cookie and with different ovens. The boat oven bakes small versions of these cookies in 12-15 minutes.