Salted Caramel Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

IMG_4376I have to hand it to you Internet: ask for clear my cabinet requests and dedications and you deliver!  There was a resounding cry for Nutella themed varietals – Pie!  No-bake cookies!  Nutella caramel cookies with coconut creme centers!  Anything! – which just makes my heart sing because it means I’ve found my people.  My “if you can’t eat it with Nutella, why eat it at all” people.  Rest assured my fellow Nutella-lites: I am on it.

On a different theme, a dear, longtime friend (for those of you keeping up at home, an old camp friend now married to the former “fastest boy in camp” featured here) called for coconut macaroons and “something with those caramels.”  A brilliant and faith-ridden suggestion, particularly since, the last time we were together, I made her endure a 15 minute diatribe about the universal relevance of ranch dressing.  It seems only fair that I repay the favor with some perhaps more refined culinary opinions.

My first attempt at macaroons was combined with another first: the first baby shower I ever attended.  I’d been working in the ICU for a few months and, in the spirit of making friends in a new city in which I knew next to no one outside of work and ingratiating with new co-workers I respected, enjoyed and who thus far had so gracefully accepted me in my newness and naiveté, I went ahead and RSVPed to the general listserv invite.  I didn’t know the rules of baby showers.  Still don’t.  Do you bring a present if you’ve already contributed to the group gift?  (I took a baby bathtub.  Check!)  Do you dress up?  (It was Seattle, so I was in the clear.  In North Carolina, not so much.)  Do you bring food if the hostesses are making brunch?  (I assumed cookies were always welcome.)  Enter macaroons.  The problem was that, at the time, I didn’t know the difference between wax paper and parchment paper, lined my baking pans with the former and almost caught my kitchen on fire.  Billowing smoke coming out of oven, frantic fire extinguisher search aside, they turned out pretty well for a first attempt.  The bigger victory was that the mom-to-be was enamored with them.  They were a big hit all around, but as it turns out, chocolate coconut macaroons are a big hit for pregnant women.  How’s that for a baby shower rule?  I credit much of my ICU success over the next 4.5 years to that first batch of smoky macaroons for getting my foot in the social door.

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These gems combine three of my favorite things: salted caramel, coconut macaroons and chocolate.  For the sake of cleaning out my cabinets (and thus saving the environment, right?  Right?!?), I cast aside my homemade salted caramel founded morals and melted down the individually wrapped caramels I had in stock into caramel sauce with the help of a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream that was also lingering in my fridge.  They are every bit as gooey in the center as they sound and crispy on the outside as they look.  It takes a while for them to cool to the point where you can pick them up in one magnificent, sugary piece, so they’re an exception to the general cookie rule in that they’re best when eaten the next day.  The only disappointment was the quality of the photographs which only means one thing: they must be made again.  What a terrible shame.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

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Yield: 16-18 macaroons

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup salted caramel sauce or the impromptu version (described in the Notes section)
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut flakes
  • 10 oz chocolate, chips or coarsely chopped bars

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the caramel sauce, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla together in a large bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl, briskly whisk egg whites and salt for 2-3 minutes and add to the large bowl.
  4. Stir in coconut, mixing until the coconut is thoroughly coated and evenly mixed.
  5. Press the mixture tightly into a 1 inch cookie scoop and drop onto a pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes, until tops become golden brown.
  7. Allow to cool completely.
  8. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons one by one into the melted chocolate or smooth on with a knife.
  9. Return to the pan, chocolate side down and allow to cool several hours or overnight.

Notes

  • What’s that you say?  Don’t have the time or courage to make homemade caramel sauce?  You’re forgiven on a single occasion.  Melt ~25 individually, unwrapped (crucially important) caramels with 2-4 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream over a double boiler.  Add more cream to thin out the caramel.  You’re aiming for thick, but able to poured from the saucepan.  Once melted, stir in 1/4 tsp sea salt.
  • The higher the quality and the darker the chocolate, the better the melt and the easier it will be to dip the macaroon.  These were done with semi-sweet chocolate chips, but round 2 will be made with dark chocolate.  Mark my word.  No matter your chocolate preference, if you don’t let the macaroons cool completely before sinking in chocolate, the chocolate won’t stick.

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