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.
I have a huge spot in my heart for coconut macaroons. My grandma used to make them on a Christmas cookie platter every year and I could never get enough of them. I distinctly remember the first year when I was old enough to help my grandmother bake Christmas cookies. I stayed overnight at her house one of the weekends in December and we baked a batch after batch of her fluffy coconut macaroons. We also baked gingerbread cookies, Linzer cookies, vanilla crescents, and snowball cookies.
My grandma always talked with pride when telling me the history of her recipes. Some of them came from her great grandmother and were passed from generation to generation; some of them were from a professional baker who baked for royalty, as she would say. Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure, but it sounds fantastical. Every Christmas she would make at least a dozen different Christmas cookies, but my favorite were always her coconut macaroons.
There’s just something irresistible about the contrast of the coconut-y base and the dark chocolate at the bottom and on top. This version of coconut macaroons is nothing like the original (due to the lack of eggs), but it’s delicious nonetheless. The 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.
Tips for Making Coconut Macaroons
As you might have guessed, the main ingredient in these coconut macaroons is desiccated coconut (sometimes called macaroon coconut). Desiccated coconut is a 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 store, while the later is only available in specialty stores or online. Whichever form you choose, just keep in mind that the finer the coconut is, the more delicate and denser the macaroons will be.
While you can stick with only coconut (for the dry ingredients), I prefer macaroons that are more cookie-like. That’s why I use almond flour together with the desiccated coconut.
Another ingredient that sets these coconut macaroons apart is coconut butter, which makes these macaroons rich and buttery. 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).
To sweeten these cookies, I prefer maple syrup for its rich flavor. But you can go with any liquid sweetener you like.
The proper color of macaroons is a matter of great controversy and personal taste. Snowy-white or toasted golden? If you prefer classic white macaroon, keep the coconut raw. If you prefer golden brown macaroons, toast the coconut until it’s golden brown. Toasting not only turns the white coconut meat into golden color, but it also gives 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.
Of course, you can keep these macaroons raw (I often do), but for a more traditional dessert, you’ll probably wanna bake them. For baking, bring the oven temperature down to just 275° and bake the macaroons for 25-30 minutes (so the insides are cooked all the way before the outside crust gets too brown).
Finally, let’s quickly talk chocolate. To drizzle or not to drizzle? I love the combination of coconut, almond, and chocolate, so I always dip the bottom of the macaroons in chocolate and drizzle a bit of chocolate on top. But, if you’re not a chocolate fan, or prefer the pure coconut/almond flavor, skip the chocolate. These raw coconut macaroons are fantastic either way. I promise.
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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