Macaroons are the most coconut-y of all cookies. They’re also probably one of the easiest vegan and gluten-free cookies I’ve ever made. These coconut macaroons are chewy and moist on the inside, crispy and golden on the outside. They are delicious plain but even more irresistible when dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with a tiny pinch of crunchy sea salt. Soft, tender amazingness.
This recipe is inspired by Angela Liddon’s Vanilla Bean Macaroons from her second cookbook Oh She Glows Every Day. They are quick, easy, and beautiful. I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe, and it’s now one of my go-to quick desserts. These macaroons are more cookie-like, perhaps because they contain not only desiccated coconut, but also ground up almonds. Another ingredient that sets these vegan coconut macaroons apart is coconut butter, which makes them rich and buttery. (You won’t believe it’s not butter.)
While these macaroons may not be as fluffy as the traditional ones (due to the lack of eggs), the flavor is spot on and I actually prefer the slightly-dense texture.
Tips for Making the Best Coconut Macaroons
Unsweetened desiccated coconut – desiccated coconut (sometimes called macaroon coconut) is the very finely ground coconut with most of the moisture removed (3% moisture content max). It’s usually “powdery” because it’s in such small pieces, unsweetened, and contains no additives. Shredded coconut, on the other hand, retains more moisture, has longer shreds (about half an inch to an inch long), and is more often than not sweetened.
Some people prefer using big coconut chips, others prefer the more delicate consistency of the finely shredded coconut. You can find the former at any major grocery stores, while the later is only available in specialty stores or online. Whichever form you choose, just keep in mind that the finer the coconut, the more delicate and denser the macaroons. As Lauren Weisenthal at Serious Eats writes, the unsweetened version is slightly more high-maintenance because it requires that the cookies be firmly packed together for baking. But the payoff is a crispier, drier cookie.
Almond flour – you might be wondering if there’s any difference between almond flour and almond meal. Yes, there are two subtle differences that set them apart. Almond flour is usually made from blanched almonds and is ground very finely. Almond meal typically still contains the skins and has a more coarse grind. Since the macaroons should be light and airy, I always reach for almond flour instead of almond meal in this recipe.
Coconut butter (not coconut oil) – yes, they both come in a jar, have a whitish color, have a pretty hard texture, and are calorie dense. However, coconut butter and coconut oil are not interchangeable. Coconut oil is pure fat whereas coconut butter contains both the oils and also pureed, raw coconut meat. Therefore, coconut butter has a creamy consistency and retains a decent amount of sweetness.
You can either buy already made coconut butter, or make your own. It’s way cheaper to make your own and really not that difficult. Simply put some desiccated coconut into a high-speed blender and blend until you have a creamy coconut butter. (See the “recipe” for homemade coconut butter below).
Maple syrup – you can go with any other liquid sweetener. I just like the rich flavor dark maple syrup gives these coconut macaroons.
Toast the coconut – the proper color for a macaroon is a matter of great controversy and personal taste. Snowy-white or toasted golden? If you prefer the classic white macaroon, skip the toasting. Toasting turns the white coconut meat into golden color and give it a delicate crunch with a deep coconut flavor. Baking the macaroons for a little longer, until they become golden brown, also brings out their nutty flavor.
Bake low and slow – this is actually one of Angela’s secrets to coconut macaroons. By bringing the oven temperature down to just 275° and baking them for 25-30 minutes, the insides are cooked all the way before the outside crust gets too brown.
Tweak – there are countless ways you can tweak this basic coconut macaroon recipe for your own taste. I love dipping the sweet macaroons in dark bitter chocolate because it creates a delightful bitter-sweet contrast. If you do dip the macaroons in chocolate, be sure to allow them to cool completely before you begin. Other ways you can make these macaroons your own is by folding some lemon zest into the batter to make a light citrus flavor, or tuck nuts inside your macaroons for an extra crunch.
The great thing about these macaroons is that they keep well for days, which makes them the perfect cookie to make ahead. Store them in an air-tight contains for up to 5 days. For a longer shelf-life, store them in the freezer. My husband actually prefers his macaroons frozen!
Tools You’ll Need
1. Dehydrator (Excalibur 9 Trays) | 2. Dehydrator Sheets (3-Pack, Silicone) | 3. Baking Sheet (Pampered Chef, Stone) | 4. Cooling Rack (Ultra Cuisine, Stainless Steel) | 5. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 6. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 7. Cookie Scoop (Oxo, Stainless Steel)
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