If you are looking for a tasty and easy alternative to Valentine’s Day chocolates, here is a tempting confection to suit your needs. You can prepare these petite coconut macaroons in minutes and have them sitting on a pretty plate or packaged in cellophane bags tied with ribbon before your love walk through the front door. This recipe relies on sweetened coconut, sweetened condensed milk, egg whites, and vanilla and coconut extracts to create a cookie with a light-golden exterior and a tender, moist crumb. I have suggested forming the batter into several dozen small macaroons, but it also bakes successfully when shaped into larger, more substantial dollops. (You will just need to bake bigger macaroons a bit longer.) Whether you serve them plain or dip them in melted chocolate or ganache, these sweet coconut gems are sure to become part of your repertoire any time of year you are looking to fetch extra kisses and hugs.
Makes about 60 macaroons
2 large egg whites
Generous pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon good quality coconut extract (optional)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (14-ounce) bag sweetened shredded coconut
Melted bittersweet or semisweet chocolate or ganache for dipping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until thick and frothy. Stir in the vanilla extract, coconut extract, if desired, and sweetened condensed milk. Add the coconut and fold until combined. Set the batter aside in the refrigerator to rest for about 30 minutes. (You can also store the batter in the refrigerator at this point in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)
Using a 1 1/4-inch scoop (it holds about 1 tablespoon), scoop the coconut batter into mounds and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. You should be able to fit 20 macaroons on a large sheet. If desired, using damp fingers, lightly pat down any rough edges or strands of coconut, forming neat, fairly smooth rounds.
Bake until firm and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, or until fairly firm, before removing to a plate or platter to cool completely. Dip in melted chocolate or ganache, if desired, and set aside until cool and firm. Store the macaroons in an airtight container for up to 1 week.