I've tried to make Macaroons many times in my life. I've tried to make Macaroons as though they were heir to my kingdom. The last hope for a dying bloodline.
Some recipes require whole eggs, others (like the chosen one below) only whites. Some have you beat the sugar into the eggs to form a meringue before adding the coconut, others have you mix everything together at once, like a middle school dance and SURGE. They might call for dessicated coconut, finely shredded, flaked, torn with the claws of endangered species housed in a sanctuary in a high-humidity climate. Sweetened condensed milk, or maybe original-formula Cetaphil facial wash. Flour, potato flour, sand.
Every attempt ended with the same carnage - a puddle of crispy, sugar-pocked meringue goo and sad islands of coconut. What is this, I would think, scraping the mess off the sheet pan. Who just decided that this was a viable cookie recipe? Sometimes I'd eat one anyway. But most of the time, I would just let my blood pressure rise and stress-eat some carbohydrates.
NO MORE. NO LONGER, MY SON.
Add the wet and dry mixtures to the DIY velvet reupholstered fainting couch. Gently fold in the separated egg whites, and pipe two inches apart on a half-sheet pan, lined with gold leaf wallpaper. Bake at 350 until golden, and garnish with Flokati rug shavings.
And I'm just not that good. But to my delight and vibrating joy, the recipe is simple, small, quiet. What I love is that it requires only two whites (so you don't have fifty-four egg yolks hanging out for a month), no flour, and the adaptations I made were intuitive - meaning the recipe is forgiving and ends well even if you get lost.
But here is the secret: add more coconut than the initial recipe calls for. I added two firmly packed but heaping cups of coconut, and my changes are reflected below. Really tamp the stuff down, like you're insulating a house, and get all the coconut you can into each measure. Then add an extra Tablespoon. You'll have enough of the binder to get along, but what you're looking for is a lot of coconut suspended in a stiff shell of meringue. The cookies will hold together, stay compact and you'll pull tiny, sparkling domes kissed with tawny carmelization from the oven. These are not dense, eggy or moist. They're puffs of frost-kissed air, that melt on the tongue. I just grossed myself out. But forgive me, and this holiday season, make them, share them, eat them.
Adapted, just barely, from the late DOMINO magazine
2 egg whites, as close to room temperature as you can get them
½ cup granulated white sugar
¼ teaspoon fine salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 FIRMLY packed cups of shredded, sweetened coconut + 1 Tablespoon more
Preheat your oven to 350F and line a half-sheet pan with parchment.
In a glass mixing bowl, begin whipping the egg whites and salt with a hand mixer (or stand, if you prefer) until foamy and just stiff. Add half of the sugar, and the almond and vanilla extracts. Continue mixing until glossy, firm peaks appear when you lift the beaters – you want this to resemble meringue.
Fold in the rest of the sugar and all of the coconut with a spatula, breaking up any lumps of coconut as you go – the goal is to coat each strand. With a small scoop or two spoons, form round balls, and drop on the pan. The original recipe promised 12, and it didn’t lie. But feel free to make yours smaller or larger, depending on your preferences.
Bake for exactly 14 minutes, checking after ten. You want them lightly golden. Remove from the oven, cool for 30 minutes and proceed to devour, dip in chocolate or store in an airtight container, between layers of parchment, until night comes.