I first made these as a Passover dessert and they were just right: free of wheat and leavening, as foods for Passover must be, and familiar as a play on the popular-for-Passover coconut macaroon. And then, after Passover ended, I kept the recipe on the top of the pile to make for friends who were on gluten-free diets.
The cookies themselves, really macaroons, have just four ingredients: almonds, coconut, sugar and egg whites. Made in a food processor, they come together in 5 minutes. Roll the dough between your palms to form little balls, press an indent in their bellies and pop them into the oven, then decide what you’d like to fill them with. I like them with a thick chocolate ganache, but they’re wonderful with jam (the traditional filler), Nutella, cookie spread,
peanut butter or citrus curd. If you fill them with chocolate and they remind you of Almond Joy, I’ll understand.
A word on the almonds and egg whites: To get the best texture, start with sliced (my preference) or slivered almonds and grind them in the processor. If you use almond flour instead, the macaroons will be heavy and their texture won’t be nearly as interesting; when you use the processor, you get a somewhat uneven mix. It’s nice to have a few larger pieces of nuts here and there. As for the whites, I can’t give you an exact measurement for them. In all likelihood, you’ll need both whites, but just before the last bit goes into the processor, pinch the dough: If it holds together and feels as though you’ll have an easy time rolling balls between your palms, call it quits.
Adapted from DORIE’S COOKIES
MAKES ABOUT 30 COOKIES
FOR THE MACAROONS:
2 cups (200 grams) sliced or slivered almonds (blanched or unblanched)
1 cup (120 grams) shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
2 large egg whites
FOR THE CHOCOLATE FILLING:
3 ounces (85 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Use an insulated baking sheet or stack two regular baking sheets one on top of the other. Line the (top) sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
TO MAKE THE MACAROONS: Put the almonds, coconut and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are ground. There should still be a few larger pieces of nuts scattered throughout the mix. Pour the whites into a small bowl and stir them with a fork just to break them up. Add a bit of the whites to the processor, pulse to incorporate them, and then keep doing this until you’ve got a dough that holds together when you squeeze it. You’ll probably use all the whites, but you might need a tad less. Keep in mind that it’s better to have a moist dough than a dry one. Remove the bowl from the machine and the blade from the bowl.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto the baking sheet, or use a small cookie scoop. Shape each mound of dough into a ball between your palms, pressing so that the ball is compact, then make a small indentation in each cookie, using the knuckle of your index finger, your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon – steady the cookie with one hand while you’re pressing into it with the other so that it doesn’t crack too much. (It will always crack – it’s unavoidable – but if you stabilize the cookie, the cracks won’t split it in two.)
Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the pan at the midway mark, or until they are firm and golden brown on their bottoms; they won’t color too much elsewhere. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack.
TO MAKE THE FILLING: Put the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and heat them in the microwave until the chocolate melts; stir to smooth the ganache. Alternatively, you can heat the chocolate and cream together in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
TO FINISH THE COOKIES: Using a small spoon, fill each macaroon with enough chocolate to come level with the top of the cookie. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature. (The chocolate will never be hard – a good thing.) If you’re in a hurry, you can pop the macaroons into the refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes to set the ganache.
STORING: Kept at room temperature in a covered container, the macaroons will stay delicious for up to 3 days. After that, depending on your climate, they’ll either become soft (nice) or hard (okay); in either case, they’ll still be good.