Macaroons are different from macarons. Macaroons are usually coconut, whereas macarons are usually almond. Macaroon is typically North American, whereas macarons are French. Macaroons are usually white with golden to dark brown spots and quite rough, and macarons are pastel or brightly colored and smooth.
The word macaroon is applied to a variety of light, baked confections, described as either small cakes or meringue-like cookies depending on their consistency. The original macaroon was a “small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds” similar to Italian or Moroccan amaretti.
The English word macaroon and French macaron come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone. This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient.
Most recipes call for egg whites (usually whipped to stiff peaks), with ground or powdered nuts, generally almond or coconut. Almost all call for sugar. Macaroons are commonly baked on edible rice paper placed on a baking tray.
In North America, the coconut macaroon is the best known variety. Commercially made coconut macaroons are generally dense, moist and sweet, and often dipped in chocolate. Homemade macaroons and varieties produced by smaller bakeries are commonly light and fluffy.
Macaroons made with coconuts are often piped out with a star shaped tip, whereas macaroons made with nuts are more likely shaped individually due to the stiffness of the dough. Because of their lack of wheat ingredients, macaroons are often consumed for Passover in many Jewish homes.
In all my baking adventures, I have made neither. Shameful, really. But I refuse to make almond macarons until I have an entire day to play in the kitchen. So when I was craving some sweetness & got bitten by the proverbial baking bug late one night, while on a Honeymooners’ watching marathon, I decided to make some coconut macaroons. There are a million variations, including some made with condensed milk (like this one) and some without almond extract. I tried a few different versions, and I wasn’t thrilled with any of them… then I found Paula Deen‘s. And what an epic win that was, after altering it a bit. I smothered some in chocolate, left the rest plain.
I classified these under healthy eating because they’ve got no butter or egg yolks. It’s got condensed milk, which has a lot of calories & fat, of course. I’m not saying it’s like eating broccoli or kale, but it’s better than a shortbread cookie or a butter cookie, I’m sure. Make a recipe without condensed milk for a much healthier treat.
- 3 cups shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine coconut, vanilla & almond extracts, and salt. Mix in condensed milk to form a thick paste.
- Fold in egg whites gently with cream of tartar.
- Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
My macaroons baked for about 20 minutes, but my oven is wacky. I need an oven thermometer, like, yesterday.
I use the Jacques Pépin method of separating egg whites from the yolk. I used to use the two shell halves as cups, holding the yolk in them and transferring it back and forth until all the white dripped off into a bowl. Then I watched Jacques on his show with Julia Child, where she insisted her method was better (the egg shell method) and he said his was because it got all the albumen and “little white stuff” and did it more consistently than with the shells. So I started doing it, and I find it easier, and yes… more efficient. Clean hands, of course. You don’t want any grease or dirt or anything in your egg whites.
Okay so I coated some in chocolate, like I said. I used my old fashioned tried & true method of melting a half to three-quarters of a cup semi-sweet chocolate with 2 tablespoons shortening in either the microwave (10 second intervals, stopping in between to mix until smooth) or a double boiler. Then let it cool slightly, and dip or drop completely cooled cookies in it. Take them out and allow to cool/dry on waxed paper, or if you’re in a hurry, pop ’em in the freezer.