May 31st is National Macaroon Day. Here, David Lebovitz, renowned pastry chef, blogger and author of cookbooks, shares his recipes for chewy, chocolaty macaroons.
First, some macaroon history:
MAC-A-ROON is the English name for the Italian almond meringue cookies (maccarone, mah-cah-ROW-nay) first made by monks, possibly in the 13th century. They most resemble today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior, developed at the court of Savoy in the mid-17th century. Since almond flour made them kosher for Passover, Italian Jews embraced the recipe.
COCONUT MACAROONS were developed in the Jewish community as a variation to the original recipe. They became a popular year-round cookie outside of the Jewish community as well.
MAC-A-RONS are the French version, delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with buttercream, ganache or jam. They were created at the beginning of the 20th century by Parisian baker Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, had the idea to join two meringues and fill them with ganache.
All three versions are gluten-free.
Who first thought to dip coconut macaroons in chocolate? It isn’t known, but we thank them.
Here’s a detailed history of macaroons and macarons.
RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-DIPPED COCONUT MACAROONS
Be sure to use unsweetened coconut (medium shredded coconut or coconut flakes), which is available at most natural-food shops and online.
You can prep the dough up to a week in advance, or freeze it for future use.
Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 25 minutes.
4 large egg whites
1-1/4 cups sugar (10 oz./315 g)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2-1/2 cups (9 oz./280 g) unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/4 cup (1-1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (60 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
Ingredients For About 30 Cookies
1. STIR together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour in a large fry pan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir. When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom…
2. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. At this point the mixture can be chilled for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months. When ready to bake,
3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a spoon and your fingers, form the dough into 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) mounds and arrange them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
4. LINE a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Dip the bottom of each macaroon in the chocolate and set the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, 5 to 10 minutes.
 Dipping in chocolate. Who gets to lick the bowl? (photo courtesy David Liebovitz).  A Silpat baking sheet protects the macaroons from over-browning (photo courtesy Silpat).  Bet you can’t eat just one (photo courtesy Burdick Chocolate).  Dipping the tops in chocolate may cause drips, but there are no sticky fingers from holding a chocolate bottom (photo courtesy The Fosters Market Cookbook).