I’ve never been one for features here but this holiday season I found myself already baking more cookies than I had expect to. So I figured why not feature them all before Christmas? This gives me the incentive to post more and gives you the chance to see a few different cookies with time left to whip up a batch or two…or five.
The first recipe I bring to you this holiday season isn’t really a traditional Christmas cookie per se but is one more often associated with the Jewish holidays. No matter the religious or cultural association though, these cookies are damn good. And they are so incredibly easy to make! The cookies alone only have 5 ingredients (one of which is salt) and if you want to skip the filling, you certainly won’t be let down. The macaroons are simply perfect by themselves. The toasted coconut edges are fantastic with the sweet soft coconut centers. If you stick with the filling, you’ll add a nice complement of coconut creaminess to the mix but note that the filled sandwiches are considerably more substantial than the single macaroons so keep that in mind when you plan the setting you’ll be serving them in. Unfortunately, these macaroons were too good to stick around for very long but they will likely make a reappearance before our Christmas Eve festivities. I don’t expect they will stick around in your house for very long either.
You may have some issues finding these ingredients so let me help you out. I can’t seem to find unsweetened finely shredded coconut so I used sweetened shredded (by Baker’s) and reduced the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup (my changes are reflected below). The texture is probably a little different than Martha had planned it to be but it really makes no difference. I found coconut extract in Whole Foods but you can order coconut flavoring from King Arthur Flour (I don’t know if my local grocery store carries it because I didn’t check there). You can find cream of coconut in some larger grocery stores and probably liquor stores as well. In the grocery stores, check in the soda isle near the drink mixes; I found it both in a squeeze bottle and in a can. Martha highly recommends using this over the unsalted butter which obviously doesn’t lend any coconut flavor to the filling.
Coconut Cream-Filled Macaroons
source: adapted from Martha Stewart, Cookies, page 80
For the cookies:
- 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons cream of coconut, or unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- Make cookies: Stir together coconut, granulated sugar, egg whites, coconut extract and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Form heaping teaspoons of dough into balls; space 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Gently flatten to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges begin to turn golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.
- Make filling: Put butter, cream of coconut and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add confectioners’ sugar and coconut extract; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Assemble cookies: Place a heaping teaspoon filling on the bottom of 1 cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Transfer to a platter; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.