I don't bake very often but when I do, it's usually Macaroons I'm pulling out of the oven. Over the years, after bringing countless plates full of the little buggers to parties and events, they've somehow become my signature cookie.
(Sideline trivia: When I was a wee Bobby Soxer, the very first organized softball team I ever played on was called the Macaroons. You know, because our jerseys were maroon. I never really understood that name because I had never eaten a Macaroon at that point in my life. I think someone brought a plate of Macaroons to our final game, but by then I had already parted ways with any concern I had for our team's name; that pitch had long been fouled off by then. Early in the season my Dad had suggested we go with the name Crimson Tide, but since Alabama's a long way from Southern California -- and because sixth-grade girls prefer chanting softball songs that include cutesie names -- that one never took flight. Either way, they were both confusing to my sheltered 12-year-old mind.)
Anyway, I'm asked so often for the recipe to these fabulous Macaroons that I thought it would be a great idea just to have it up here on the blog for all to see and reference as needed.
Full disclosure: This recipe, wonderfully straightforward in its simplicity, is not my own -- nor did it get passed down through the generations in my family. (I've got those, too, thankfully.) No, this one comes from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ms. Ina Garten. And all you gluten-phobes will be happy to learn that it contains absolutely zero flour. But, oh, the sugar!
(My notes, in red, are tips I've used to improve the recipe over the years.)
14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature (really, they need to be at room temperature for best results)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (make sure it's kosher)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl, then add the coconut to the mixture. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. (Be delicate with your folding; overdoing it will break down your whipped whites.)
Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper (an absolute must if you want to keep your cookies from burning), using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.
Thanks to Jenn, who had the great idea to share holiday cookie recipes around the world by hosting the First Annual Virtual Cookie Exchange, and to Shannon for letting me know about it.