My Big Secret

Photos by Laura Hobbs
For those who are familiar with these macaroons, you are going to be incensed as to how simple they are.

I’m reading this wonderful book called A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg. Molly writes the tasteful, minimalist, über-popular food blog Orangette, and is one of those lucky few food bloggers whose work became so celebrated and well-received that she got a book deal. (Ahem – WHYYESI’DLOVETOWHEREDOISIGN? – Ahem.) Molly’s book is a delightful mix of vignettes paired with wonderful corresponding recipes; her writing style is thoughtful, sensitive and eloquent, and I often find myself thinking, “I couldn’t have said it any better!”, or “Wow, you’re so cool”, or “Can we be friends?”

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Dipping Chocolate

Leftover Eggs

Scooping the Macaroons

Out of the Oven

I came across a story in Molly’s book that struck a nerve deep within, filling me with a sense of overwhelming shame and contrition. OK, so maybe it wasn’t that severe, but it did leave me reconsidering my ways. This particular story was about secret recipes, and Molly’s utter disdain for such a thing. According to Molly, the idea of a secret recipe

is sort of ridiculous… Recipes were made to be shared. That’s how they improve, how they change, how new ideas are formed and older ones made ripe. The way I see it, sharing a recipe is how you pay back fate… for bringing you something so tasty in the first place. To stop a recipe in its tracks, to label it a secret, just seems mean.

Ouch. Duly noted.

So this made me begin to reevaluate my death grip on my own secret recipe. You see, I’ve been holding on to my secret recipe for coconut macaroons for the better part of 10 years, unwilling to share it with anyone and greedily hoarding all to myself. I would oblige to make them for anyone who asked, but I wasn’t about to share the recipe itself, for fear of people discovering the simplicity and ease of the recipe, leaving the mystery of Laura and her Amazing Coconut Macaroons on the shelf to gather dust. Selfish? Yes. Arrogant? A little. Desperate? Well, this is embarrassing.

Molly expounds on the importance of sharing recipes by recounting the years of her youth when she was absolutely terrible at sharing: refusing to share her perfectly sharpened pencils with unprepared classmates just before a test, or her uneaten potato chips with a neighbor during lunch in the cafeteria. Molly’s tale of her struggle with sharing made me face my own demons: as an only child, sharing was foreign to me, and often not well-practiced. After reading Molly’s story and going through my own mini existential crisis, I made a decision: I’m going to share my secret recipe.

So here we are. While I don’t remember quite where my coconut macaroon recipe came from, I do know that I have perfected it over the years, and can probably make them with my eyes closed (yes, I’m that good – and yes, it’s that easy). For those who are familiar with these macaroons, you are going to be incensed as to how simple they are. There are four main ingredients: coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and egg whites, all folded together into a sticky, fluffy mess. I’m a big believer in the “bigger is better” doctrine here: I use an ice cream scoop to make monstrously fluffy mounds on a parchment covered baking sheet before I throw them in the oven.

There is one little issue that I’d like to address before I leave you to your devices: macaroon puddles. Yes, I said macaroon puddles. You see, some of the egg whites have a tendency to puddle out of the cookie and onto the parchment paper, creating a brown, melty looking puddle ring around the bottom of the macaroon. While the puddle is delicious, I think it’s unsightly; I tear my puddles off (photo), leaving them in a plastic bag for Hubs and me to munch on over the following days (or hours). You’re welcome to leave your puddles on, or tear them off. It’s like the over-versus-under toilet paper roll – to each his own.

Before I go, I just want to reiterate what a momentous occasion this is; I am sharing something that I have protected with a selfish ferocity for the past 10 years. It’s time to let go. It’s time to share. It’s time to get over myself. Without further ado, I give you Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

(makes 12)

Download this recipe

1 (14 oz.) bag of sweetened shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
8 oz. milk or dark chocolate

Bowl of Puddles

Just Dipped

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large bowl, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla together until well-combined. In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt at high speed until medium peaks form, about a minute and a half. Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Using an ice cream scoop, place the macaroons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone pad. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. (If you want to remove the puddles, this is where you do it.)

Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, 20 seconds at a time and stirring in between, until completely melted and smooth. Dip each macaroon in the chocolate and place on another piece of parchment paper or a silicone pad. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes until the chocolate hardens.

Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Photo slideshow

* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.

Laura Hobbs
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.