First off, let me say that I don’t believe in diets. I’ve watched my family and friends battle with fad diets and food crazes (including the particularly disgusting cabbage soup diet), and I’ve declared myself non-eligible. That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about health or weight; I just prefer to take everything in moderation and eat a variety of different (healthful) foods each week. Yeah, yeah, it sounds like a press release from the USDA, but it works. And since I started watching what I ate more closely about two years ago, I’ve lost 10 pounds a year, and I plan on losing another 10 this year.
What really keeps me from fitting into my high-school jeans is my obsession with dessert. In another life I’m going to come back as a French pastry chef so I can sample desserts all day long, every day, and shout “Oui, oui! C’est merveilleux!” after each tasting. In the meantime, I’m going to attempt to regulate my daily dessert intake (although I admit to eating ice cream almost every night—thanks for the ice cream maker, Douglas!).
So, what better way to start off the year than with a light and airy dessert, one that doesn’t pack too many calories per serving (76!) and happens to be gluten-free? I made these for Bart’s graduation party a few weeks back and had completely forgotten that we had guests with gluten allergies. I was so excited when I realized I had chosen a gluten-free macaroon recipe. Score 1 for the Kitchen Bitch, 0 for gluten!
Coconut macaroons are made with only five ingredients—egg whites, salt, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and coconut—and whoever made these things up is a real genius. The batter is quite sticky, but the resulting cookies are crunchy on the outside because of the coconut and light, and fluffy and chewy on the inside because of the beaten egg whites, one of the workhorses of the pastry kitchen.
If you’re on a diet but still want something to satisfy your sweet tooth, then coconut macaroons are a good bet. And if you really want to be naughty, drizzle the macaroons with some melted bittersweet chocolate—I heartily recommend Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips. I’m guessing the melted chocolate adds an extra 25 calories or so to each cookie, but I think it’s well worth it. Hey, everything in moderation right?
Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzle
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. Depending on the size you make these, this recipe makes between 40 and 80 macaroons. Click here to download a copy of this recipe.
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 (14-oz) bags shredded sweetened coconut
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli brand recommended), if desired
Make batter. Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes. Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold in coconut until well combined.
Form cookies. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using a teaspoon and your fingers, form macaroons into 1 1/4-inch mounds about 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies. Bake until macaroons are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a cooling rack; let cool completely.
Garnish if desired. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler set over gently simmering water, or in the microwave by heating on 50% power for 45 seconds, stirring, and then heating it again at 15-second intervals at 50% power, stirring between each interval, until chocolate is melted. Drizzle melted chocolate over macaroons and allow it to cool and harden. Store macaroons in an airtight container for up to a week.