Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sugar-free coconut macaroons, two ways

Macaroons are a very popular Passover dessert, as they do not require any flour or other forms of chametz. Passover is still a month away, but I had a craving for coconut so I figured I might as well make them now!

There are two basic categories of macaroons. There are dense, chewy macaroons (like the canned Manischewitz variety), and there are also airy, fluffy macaroons, almost like a coconut meringue. Chewy macaroons are more familiar, but I definitely preferred the fluffy ones. They were soft, moist, and reminiscent of angel food cake. Plus, the copious amount of whipped egg whites volumized the batter and thus there are less calories per cookie. The chewy ones were excellent as well, and probably closer to what guests would expect.

Chewy on left, fluffy on right.

Macaroons come in many varieties, including toffee crunch, rocky road, and cappuccino chip. Personally, I like mine with a hint of almond, so I added pure almond extract along with some finely-ground blanched almonds. You can also dip these in dark chocolate if you'd like, making something vaguely reminiscent of an Almond Joy.

Top left: chewy macaroon with the bottom dipped in chocolate.
Top right: chewy macaroon, left plain.
Center: chewy macaroon, half dipped in chocolate and rolled in sliced almonds.
Bottom left: Fluffy macaroon drizzled with chocolate.
Bottom right: fluffy macaroon, left plain.

Choose whatever you'd like!

The fluffy macaroons are comprised of stiffly-beaten egg whites, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sugar-free almond syrup. I made my own syrup, but you could always use Torani.

Formulating a recipe for chewy macaroons was slightly more challenging. Pre-sweetened coconut provides a lot of intrinsic chewiness. Real sugar gets sticky and syrupy and keeps the coconut very moist; sugar substitutes simply don't work the same in that regard. I've come across recipes which use sweetened condensed milk or coconut cream (the sweet, thick, sticky kind, like Coco Lopez). This seemed like it might be the key, so I made my own coconut cream. I added additional sweetener (stevia for me) to the batter as well. You could alternately use it to make Genaw's angel coconut. I'm not sure that it would make a difference, though, as she said it was wet rather than sticky. If you do this, use half of the coconut to make angel coconut and leave the rest as-is. For some reason, even though I used the same amount of almond extract in the chewy recipe as I did in the fluffy recipe, it tasted less almond-y and next time I will use more. 

Makes about two dozen
  • 8 oz package shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 6 fresh egg whites (NOT pasteurized)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (probably optional)
  • 2 oz (weight; about 1/2 cup) finely-ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1 recipe sugar-free almond syrup (recipe follows) or 1/2 cup storebought sugar-free almond syrup such as Torani
  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 350 (next time I think I will bake them at 375 to get more brown, you could try it if you like)
  2. Beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  3. Stir together the coconut, ground almonds, and almond syrup. Fold the mixture into the egg whites.
  4. Drop the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, one rounded tablespoon at a time. You may need to use two sheets. Use your fingers to create a point at the top. Alternately, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to create the macaroons.
  5. Bake until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking.
  6. Let cool and serve.

  • 1/4 tsp flavorless oil
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup erythritol, powdered in a spice grinder
  • 1 dropperful (about 28 drops) vanilla-flavored stevia such as Sweetleaf Vanilla Creme OR 2 packets stevia + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract OR 4 tsp additional erythritol + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  1. Pour the oil in the bottom of a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over it, and stir with a fork to combine. Add the coconut oil and microwave on high for 40 seconds or until the fat is melted. Stir again to combine.
  2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken. Syrup will thicken as it cools.

Makes about two dozen

  • 1 recipe sugar-free coconut cream (recipe follows)
  • Sweetener of choice to equal 6 Tbs sugar (for example, 1/4 tsp pure stevia extract or 9 packets of SweetLeaf stevia)
  • 3 fresh egg whites
  • 1 tsp almond extract (I might bump this up to 1.5-2 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp honey or agave nectar (probably optional, but I think it helped the texture. I used agave because I had some on hand.)
  • 8 oz package unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 oz (weight; about 1/2 cup) finely ground almonds or almond flour
  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2.  Whisk together the coconut cream, egg whites, sweetener, extracts, syrup, and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut and almonds until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with a rubber spatula. 
  3. Chill the batter for 15 minutes.
  4. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers to push each one so that it is pointed at the top.
  5. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking.
  6. Let cool and serve.
Makes about 1/2 cup. Use it in any recipe that calls for coconut cream!

  • About 2 oz powdered coconut milk (I used a 1.76 oz packet)
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 4-6 tsp erythritol (you can use a different sweetener, but erythritol seems to work best for syrupy-textured recipes. Start by adding the 4 tsp, then taste and add more if desired. I used 4 tsp erythritol + a Sweetleaf stevia packet.)
  • 1.5 Tbs coconut oil
  • Pinch salt
  1. Put the water in the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Immediately stir in the coconut oil until melted.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, whisking well or beating with a fork until totally smooth.
  3. Microwave for an additional 15 seconds or so, then beat the mixture again.


Joob said...

holy cow. Those look absolutely delicious. If I could eat them right now... I absolutely would. Just saying.

Erica said...

Haha, well hopefully your next bulking phase coincides with Passover, macaroons are everywhere during that week!

Anonymous said...

Is there an alternative to the coconut cream in the chewy recipe? Could I use the thick stuff that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk?

Thanks for the recipes!

Erica said...

Anon, I would *guess* that 1/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk mixed with the sweetener called for in the coconut cream recipe would work. That is just a guess though, I can't give any guarantee as I haven't tried it myself.

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