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~ Melanie's "Original" Secret Signature Macaroons ~

PICT1581No folks, I am not the inventor of the macaroon, but, neither is anyone else.  Food historians say they first appeared around 1533 in an Italian monastery.  These crispy cookies were made without flour or yeast, contained egg whites and almonds, and, were flavored with amaretto.  My original and authentic American recipe (right up until the moment I will reluctantly push publish on this post tonight) has remained a pretty well-guarded family secret and dates back to my grandmother and her sister. They were both superb bakers and they both loved coconut.  My grandmother was known for her large coconut-almond macaroons while her sister was known for her four-layer fresh coconut cake.  I got both of my recipes from them, and I can tell you, while recipes are in cookbooks and on the internet for both, no random search will produce anything even close to as good as either of these recipes.  Trust me, I know, I am a recipe developer!

RandommacaronsBefore we go any further, I am making American macaroons, not French macarons. While both recipes are gluten-free by default and are made using egg whites, they are two entirely different cookies.  The French macaron is a sandwich cookie, similar in texture to a meringue.  Our Southern-American coconut macaroon is a heavier textured, chewy cookie.  The macaron requires a bit more skill to make, but, if you love to bake, it is a process well worth the effort (and a separate blog post)!    

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut-Almond Macaroons #3 (For Sale at The Philips Hotel)A bit about my macaroons:  Over the years, my family, friends, neighbors and colleagues all look forward to their Christmas gift of Mel's macaroons.  Each year, they receive them delivered in a basket or a tin.  The "deal" is, if you return your basket or tin to me, it gets refilled next Christmas.  This tradition started 14 years ago when we moved to Boalsburg, and, to date, I've never NOT had a basket or tin returned.  I've taken them to my girlfriend Trish's cooking exchange parties, served them at my daughter-in-law's bridal shower, and, when asked, make them for local restaurants for fancy, upscale events.  Last February, I made over 200 of them for The Philip's Hotel to sell (the owner sent me this photo)!

The method for making macaroons is pretty universal, but it's my ingredients list and the proportions that produce the perfectly cooked, soft, chewy texture.  And lest we forget, it's baking, as opposed to cooking.  Baking is all about precision and timing. In baking you weigh and measure... we're not making mashed potatoes folks, we're making macaroons, and, unless you've got a well-proportioned ingredients list to start with, you don't have a prayer.  That being said, the size of the scoop matters too.  If you've eaten my macaroons, you've probably guessed it's a large ice-cream scoop that produces the perfect, round, dome-shaped cookie!

PICT1492I started dipping my grandmother's macaroons in chocolate, oh, I'd say 25 years ago.  Our beloved local O.W.Houts & Sons store was still in business back then and Julie (who ran an exceptional gourmet grocery department) ordered about six different brands of upscale chocolate for me to experiment with. I settled on Swiss Lindt. EVERYONE who knows me knows I swear by Lindt chocolate, and, use it exclusively in all of my baking.  From that standpoint, my choice of chocolate has never been a secret, it has been a mandatory requirement and I've passed it on to many over the years!

PICT1603Yes folks, the recipe I am about to share with you is very special indeed, and has been close to my heart for years, so, with Valentine's day approaching (and for one other personal reason), I decided to spend this dreary January day in Central PA revealing my secrets to macaroon making with you.  I am certain this is one you and and all of the coconut macaroon lovers in your world are going to adore!

The personal reason:  Over the years, 3 of the 4 colleagues and confidants I have shared my recipe/ingredients list with have been most professional about abiding by my wishes:  "please do not share or publish, as, I have not done so yet."  Secret keeping is a hard thing to do in this day and age, and, as any lawyer will tell you, recipes can't be copyrighted, they just get outright stolen... some salt here, an egg white there... voila, it's yours.  It is time to let my 3 dear friends off the hook, and, for me to let go.  As for the one of you that took it upon yourself to go astray this week: I do wish you well (not really), and, hope you'll enjoy the money you will make selling macaroons from a poorly-disguised knock-off of my recipe, which you fully-credit yourself for and published in our local newspaper this past Saturday.  You no longer have Mel to rely upon to help with your culinary quandaries and give you unconditional support... you've got the internet!

On behalf of my grandmother's kitchen, Melanie's Kitchen and Kitchen Encounters I now present my family's signature recipe for macaroons, the one so many of you have been asking for for many years. To my loyal friends and readers, feel free to share and enjoy:  

My recipe is officially yours now!














5  cups sweetened, flaked coconut (3 cups toasted with the almonds)

1  cup sliced, unsalted almonds, with or without skins

1  14-ounce can sweetened, condensed mik

1  tablespoon pure almond extract, not imitation

4  large egg whites, at room temperature

2  tablespoons sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

3/4-1  pound Swiss Lindt chocolate, bittersweet or milk chocolate, your choice, broken into pieces

PICT1499~ Step 1.  In a 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan, combine 3 cups of the coconut with the almonds.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes, stopping to toss with a spoon about every 5-8 minutes.  Watch carefully during the last few minutes, as coconut and almonds can and will go from browned to burned quickly.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.

PICT1503~ Step 2.  In a large mixing bowl, place the toasted and cooled coconut/almond mixture with the remaining 2 cups of untoasted coconut.  Stir the almond extract into the condensed milk (you can do this right in the can).  Using a large rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly, fold the condensed milk mixture into the coconut mixture. Note:  Avoid smashing or breaking up the almonds.

PICT1516~ Step 3.  In a medium mixing bowl, on medium speed of a hand-held electric mixer, beat together the egg whites, sugar and salt, until frothy.  

Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture, until thoroughly incorporated.



~ Step 4.  Using a 2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place firmly-packed balls of dough, slightly apart on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Do not flatten balls.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, until set and lightly golden brown, about 15-16 minutes.  Do not over bake...

PICT1546... Remove from oven.  Using a thin spatula, gently transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The macaroons are now, technically speaking: done.  If you want to chocolate dip them, proceed as follows:

~ Step 5.  Return macaroons to the parchment lined pan.  Refrigerate for an hour. Chilling prior to dipping avoids that unsightly, chocolate-bleedout at their bottoms.

PICT1558~ Step 6.  Place about 3/4" of water in the bottom of a double boiler and bring to a boil over high heat.  Place the chocolate pieces in the top of the double boiler.  Insert the top of the boiler into the bottom (containing the simmering water) and stir constantly, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.



~ Step 7.  Dip the bottom of each cold cookie into the melted chocolate and place, chocolate side down, onto still-cold parchment-lined baking pan.  Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the tops of the macaroons (a squeeze-type bottle, the kind used for vinaigrette, works well for this). Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator and return to room temperature 20-30 minutes prior to serving:

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut-Almond Macaroons #1Melanie"s "Original" Secret Signature Macaroons:  Recipe yields 22-24 large cookies.

Special Equipment List: 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan; large rubber spatula; hand-held electric mixer; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper' 2" ice-cream scoop; thin spatula; cooling rack; double boiler

Cook's Note:  This recipe can be doubled, to make twice as many, and that works quite nicely. That being said, if you want to make large quantities, like I made for The Philips Hotel last February, you'll want mix them in separate, double batches.  I do not recommend tripling the recipe.  Why?  Well, the aerated egg whites tend to break down, or loose their volume over time, which can cause your macaroons to be at bit gummy, rather than chewy in texture!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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Teresa. Ah, yes, it was quite infuriating on a couple of levels. Betrayal is unforgivable. On a happier note, I hope you will try my macaroon recipe, as, I know in my heart you're going to love them!

Beautiful! What generosity for you to share this family heirloom, Mel. How sad that your "colleague" decided that selling you out was more valuable than your friendship. Integrity is in short supply for those who lack self-respect. Their loss. xx

Lyla! I'm certain you and yours will enjoy these Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Almond Macaroons!

I really would like to try to make gluten free almond macaroons. My daughter has Celiac Disease and I try to do as much gluten free stuff as I can. Thanks for the recipes!

Thank you Jeanne! You are indeed one of my dear and loyal colleagues and confidants! ~ Mel.

Mel, this is a beautiful blog! I am so glad you posted the recipe, I have enjoyed these macaroons so many times over the years, now thousands more will have a chance to taste what they have been missing!

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