These homemade coconut macaroons without condensed milk (aka coconut rochers) are dense, chewy and incredibly easy to prepare!
What Is A Macaroon?
Macaroons are gluten-free and dairy-free cookies that are made of 3 main ingredients: nuts (generally almonds or coconut), sugar and egg whites. Some recipes will include sweetened condensed milk. They are usually dome shaped.
Where Are Macaroons From?
It seems macaroons originated in Italy. The word “macaroon” comes from the word “maccarone”, which is Italian for paste. Early records of macaroon recipes show that they were originally made with almond paste.
It is believed macaroons later became popular in France when Italian nuns introduced them in Nancy.
Macaroons Vs Macarons
Macarons are delicate French sandwich cookies which are usually filled with buttercream or ganache. You’re probably familiar with their colorful appearance, interesting flavors and their characteristic ruffled edges (feet).
Macarons are quite tricky to make and can intimidate even experienced bakers, unlike macaroons.
Macaroons and macarons are both composed of egg whites, sugar and nuts. But modern days macaroons will usually be made with shredded coconut while macarons are made with almond flour.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- One bowl: This recipe is really easy to make! All you have to do is mix the ingredients together in a bowl then shape the dough!
- No mixer: You just need a whisk or a spoon to mix the ingredients.
- Customizable: You can really have as much fun as you like with the recipe. Dip the macaroons in chocolate or drizzle some on top. Add a cherry in the middle. Flavor the macaroons with vanilla extract or citrus zest etc.
- No dairy or gluten: This recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free which makes it suitable for people with dietary restrictions.
- Perfect for the holidays: Kids can make the dough and have fun shaping it into little Christmas trees! Pipe a little bit of melted chocolate on the baked (and cooled) macaroons then decorate with sprinkles.
- Egg whites: The eggs will give structure to the cookies. They will also moisten the dough so that you can actually shape the cookies. If you don’t use enough liquids, the dough will just fall apart.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar to sweeten the macaroons.
- Honey: Egg whites have a tendency to dry out cookies. Replacing a small amount of egg whites with honey gives these cookies a nice subtle flavor and keeps them from drying out. Some recipes include instead a small amount of applesauce or apricot compote. The pectin present in the fruit retains moisture and keeps the cookies from drying out.
- Coconut: You’ll need unsweetened, desiccated coconut (aka macaroon coconut). This type of coconut is ground and will yield dense cookies. It is sometimes referred to as dried coconut. It’s best not to replace it with sweetened coconut as you would need to adjust the amount of sugar and liquids. Note: Desiccated coconut is not the same as coconut flour.
- Flavorings: They are completely optional and you can make delicious macaroons without them. I like to add a pinch of salt, to enhance all the flavors. You could also add a little bit of vanilla extract and lemon zest.
How to Make Coconut Macaroons
There are several ways to prepare the macaroons before baking them:
- Meringue: You first need to prepare a French meringue. The egg whites are whipped with the sugar until stiff before folding in the coconut.
- Heated: The ingredients are gently heated (usually over a double boiler) until the mixture reaches 49°C-54°C (120°F-130°F). You can then let the mixture rest a little, so that the coconut absorbs the moisture. Heating the mixture stabilizes the egg whites and gives the cookies a thin, crisp shell and a chewy center.
- Quick and easy (my favorite!): The ingredients are simply mixed together in a bowl then shaped as desired.
I used the same recipe and tried all three methods. There were a few notable differences:
- Flavor: The more air was whipped into the mixture, the less sweet it felt. The coconut flavor was also milder. This was the most obvious when making the French meringue.
- Shaping: The dough made by simply mixing the ingredients was very easy to shape. The more the eggs were whipped, the softer the dough was. The cookies made with French meringue were spooned onto the parchment paper, not shaped.
- Texture: The meringue method produced the lightest and airiest cookies. The easy method made by simply combining all the ingredients yielded the most dense and compact cookies. Those cookies also had a slightly more uniform texture throughout. The other two types had a more obvious outer crust.
Today we’ll be making the easiest method which is just perfect for holiday baking or last minute cravings!
Preparing the dough
- Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until white and creamy and the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. It’s okay if you can still feel a little bit of sugar. Tip: Make sure you are using room temperature eggs so that the sugar dissolves more easily.
- Add the honey and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. If using citrus zest, you can add it now.
- Add the coconut and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will start to thicken and come together.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, conventional setting) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Shaping the dough
- Scoop about a tablespoon of dough and shape as desired then place on the baking sheet. The dough should be sticky but easy to handle. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. I divided the dough into 12 pieces, each about 25 g (0.9 oz.) and rolled them into balls.
If you find the dough too sticky, you can either: 1) wet your hands slightly before shaping, 2) wait a bit longer or 3) add more coconut.
Maraschino cherries: I love adding a cherry to the macaroons before baking them, for even more sweetness and color! To do so, shape the dough into a ball then gently flatten it. Place the cherry in the middle and press it down lightly. Smooth the dough around the cherry to prevent cracks.
Baking coconut macaroons
- Bake on the middle shelf for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. If you prefer dark macaroons, bake them for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool briefly on the baking sheet (about 10 minutes) before transferring to a wire rack. Enjoy warm or cold!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
You might not have used enough liquid or the dough wasn’t properly shaped. Try squeezing it more next time so it holds together after baking or add a little more liquid (e.g. egg white).
The most likely reason is that they were baked for too long. Bake until lightly golden.
Baked macaroons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days or in the fridge for a week. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Coconut macaroons are soft even straight out of the freezer and don’t need to be thawed.