Monday, January 24, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

I'd like to clear something up - it's something that bothers me far more than it should but thought I'd make sure all of you understand the distinction, even though it's probably a futile battle since the distinction seems to be becoming increasingly muddy.

It's a little niggle, really - the matter of a single letter. It's only become an issue in the last couple of years, with a bit of a foodie trend sweeping through the baking world. The issue is the differentiation between macarons and macaroons - see, very similar in name. They are also similar in that both are types of cookie, small dainty morsels, and both use egg whites and are generally gluten free. But then a line must be drawn. The macaron (shown on the left below) is the trendy one - you know, the cute, multicoloured confections, baked as two shells and filled with buttercream or ganache.

The macaroon (on the right) is the classic coconut confection, the less refined but still delicious and much simpler to make. If you want to split hairs the name was derived from the same word and might as well be the same, but the convention has predominently been to use the French spelling (macaron) for the prior version, to differentiate. Lately, though, I've noticed a couple of uses of the double o version for the pretty variety, which is my niggle - it's confusing! So I thought I'd straighten things out by making some macaroons. ;-)

It's a simple recipe - four ingredients, and if you consider coconut a pantry staple (I do) you'll probably have them all on hand. 

It's definitely a kid-friendly recipe - as well as the simple ingredient list, the method is very straightforward. Separating eggs is the most difficult part by far. And as an added bonus you get to squelch your hands around in the mixture to make the cookies, and we all know that kids (and big kids!) like an excuse to nibble on unbaked cookie. ;-)

 I've most often seen these as little mounds, often with a pointed top. I made one tray like that, and one where I rolled the mixture into balls.

The balls were more compacted and I preferred their texture, and also like that they're a bit neater, but that's just my inner OCD coming out.

If you like you can dip them in chocolate once they're done - I dipped some of mine, though I quite like them unadorned too, so chewy and dense.

I have also made flat versions in the base of muffin tins, to act as a serving device (sort of like a little cup) for coconut ice-cream for a dinner party - you can play around with these to suit your purpose.

Tell me, do you ever get irritated by silly little things like my macaron/macaroon issue? 

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups coconut
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla essence 

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until you can form a ball in your hand. Place balls or mounds of the mixture on the baking paper and bake for 14-17 minutes, or until golden brown. Dip in chocolate once cool if desired. Makes about 15.


  1. Yes I always get annoyed by incorrect terminology!! Can't think of any examples right now though.

  2. All. The. Time. Especially now that I'm in France, and some of the English girls STILL pronounce macarons like macaroons. They should know better by now!
    E :)

  3. I love the look of these...not to mention so much easier than 'macarons' :) tell me, do you think long-thread coconut would be okay? It's all I've got.

  4. fingersandtoes - always so hard to think of examples on the spot! ;-)

    E, disgraceful, you must educate those lasses!

    Laura, long thread coconut would be even better, I reckon, definitely would work. :-)

  5. So much easier than "macarons" which scare me senseless baking wise! And much prefer the macaroons and all that lovely, almost chewy coconut! These look delicious :)

  6. I know what you mean about the spelling. I just bought Eric Lanlard's book 'Homebake' and was very suprised to see him spell it with 2 o's. He is a French chef in England so he really really should know better.

  7. Mairi - yes, these definitely are easier. I don't think macarons are as hard as people make out - or rather, I think there's a little too much emphasis on perfection ("failures" still taste great!) but it is nice to just be able to chuck everything in a bowl and be done!

    Megan, it's just confusing! You would think a Frenchman would get it right...

  8. and.. just to mention another difference.. the recipe you've posted is also called coconut stacks.. a childhood favourite.. yum!

  9. Anon, thanks - I can see where that name came from! :-)

  10. I get really irritated by incorrect spelling or terminology on restaurant menus - they of all people should really get it right. It always makes me feel that if they don't care enough to get the details right, they don't care enough about what they're cooking either.

    Anyway, I so love macaroons - they are a real taste of my childhood, before we even knew such things as macarons even existed. I am making a batch of these this afternoon - will be taking a few to my Dad, who loves them too.

    Sue xo

  11. Sue, my sentiments exactly! I hope your Dad enjoyed them, they are a yummy treat, need to be made more often. :-)


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