Richer — and Simpler — Than Traditional Macaroons
OK, technically these cookies aren’t macaroons (they don’t contain egg white). But they look like coconut macaroons, and their flavor is remarkably similar. So whatever you call them, your taste buds will get an exceedingly sweet treat.
Last year when I posted about Pfeffernüsse Cookies, I mentioned that for Christmas my mom would bake at least a dozen different types of cookies. The selection varied a bit from year to year, but there was always a nucleus of family favorites. One of these was Coconut Kisses, which she always baked on Christmas Eve. To make them even more festive, she’d divide the cookie dough and dye half of it red, the other half green.
These days, Mrs. Kitchen Riffs (the cookie baker in our household) skips the dye. Although I sometimes get nostalgic for the seasonal look of the red and green cookies, I must admit I prefer the way they look au naturel. Besides, that way you can serve them all year round, not just at Christmas.
A good thing too, because once you see the way kids — and adults — gobble these up, you’ll want to bake them often.
Recipe: Coconut Kisses (Macaroons)
My mother started baking these cookies in the 1950s (if not before), but the recipe didn’t originate with her. She probably found it printed on a package of flaked coconut or sweetened condensed milk (the two main ingredients). No doubt a food-company home economist developed it to sell loads of company product.
And it worked. This cookie was ubiquitous when I was growing up.
It takes about 5 minutes to mix the cookie dough, another two minutes or so to form the cookies on a baking sheet, and 10 to 12 minutes to bake each sheet of cookies. The recipe makes 4 to 5 dozen (depending on how big you make the cookies), so you’ll be doing several rounds of baking unless you have multiple ovens and lots of baking sheets. Figure a good hour or so total time for making a whole batch.
Leftover cookies store in airtight containers at room temperature for several days. You can also refrigerate them (but if you do that, allow them to come to room temperature before serving).
- 1 14-ounce package of flaked, sweetened coconut (5 1/3 cups; Baker’s Angel Flake coconut is traditional, although other brands work well too)
- 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (any brand works)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (you don’t want the artificial stuff; see Notes)
- maraschino cherries for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats (such as Silpat) or parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except garnish), stirring thoroughly to mix.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop rounds of dough and drop onto prepared baking sheets. Add a maraschino cherry to the top of each cookie if desired.
- Bake until done, about 10 to 12 minutes. Halfway through baking, reverse baking sheets from top to bottom, and turn from front to back. Cookies are done when the coconut is lightly browned.
- After removing a baking sheet from the oven, allow the cookies to “set” on the sheet for three to five minutes before removing them with a wide spatula. Allow cookies to cool before eating.
- These cookies tend to spread out a little when they bake, which I think adds to their charm. If you prefer a more compact cookie, make them smaller; the smaller ones don’t spread as much.
- If you don’t want to use a teaspoon to shape the cookies, a #60 scoop works well (each scoop is slightly over 1 tablespoon in size).
- I tend to prefer these cookies without a garnish, but the cherry is pretty. You can also dribble melted chocolate on the cookies — this is both pretty and tasty.
- Flaked coconut is coconut that has been dried, then shaved (flaked), and usually sweetened.
- Condensed milk is milk that has been reduced by boiling (thus removing the water content), and sweetened with sugar. Evaporated milk is similar, except it contains no sugar. Because sugar acts as a preservative, making evaporated milk requires more processing than does condensed milk. Condensed milk was first developed in France in 1820, but was subsequently “reinvented” in the US by Gail Borden, Jr. in 1853. Borden produced one of the first commercial brands of condensed milk in the US.
- The Borden company underwent a leveraged buyout in the 1990s and the company was eventually dissolved. Today Eagle brand is probably the most commonly found condensed milk in the US, but all brands are more or less the same.
- Good vanilla extract contains no sugar. So check the label on yours — you may be surprised at what you see.
- You want to use real (pure) vanilla extract in this recipe. Pure vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in a mixture of water and alcohol for several months. BTW, the FDA requires that pure vanilla extract contain at least 35% alcohol.
- If the label doesn’t say “pure,” that means it’s made from synthetic vanilla. The artificial kind is usually derived from the sapwood of several species of conifers — or from coal extracts!
- The flavor of some imitation vanillas can be nasty. You don’t have to spend a fortune on pure vanilla extract, but getting decent quality does mean spending a bit more for something that’s not loaded with sugar or imitation flavoring. Do yourself a favor and get the real stuff.
- You can also use vanilla beans, but for baking that’s a pain.
Mrs K R was scooping cookie dough onto sheets and busily baking. I was in the kitchen keeping
So I decided to have a cookie. Or four. Every time a sheet would emerge from the oven with freshly baked Coconut Kisses, we’d wait the barest amount of time for the cookies to cool (slightly) before picking them up and eating them, scorching our fingers and lips in the process.
“So why did your mom always make these cookies on Christmas Eve?” asked Mrs K R.
“Because of all the ones she baked, these had the shortest shelf life — they’d get stale a bit faster than some of the other varieties. She’d always make these along with Stollen, which also is best eaten fairly fresh.”
“Well, it looks like shelf life isn’t a problem around here,” observed Mrs K R.
“Guess I’d better slow down,” I said sheepishly.
“Only if you want to have some cookies left for pictures.”
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Your coconut macaroons looks delicious. I do have to agree with Mrs. Riff, and I have been trying to use less food dye. Lately, I have been using it for frosting. I like your gentle advisement's. So true with vanilla. Beautiful presentation!
I love the delicacy of your beautiful macaroons my friend :)
Choc Chip Uru
This is a family favorite here, too! We love coconut, love even more when it's topped with those super addictive cherries. (Which I can eat by the jar full on their own!) Okay, so now I want to bake some of these now.
This is a great recipe and I do them every year for Passover. I will also tell you that I make the egg white macaroon and these are the preferred variety because of the golden sugary bite that the condensed milk gives. I have added all kinds of things to them like chocolate chips and even cocoa for chocolate macs and they all turn out great!Thanks so much and also for the lighting tips!
That is such a simple recipe and your photos with the reflections are super amazing. I have been using quite a bit of coconut lately in all its forms - oil, butter, milk and cream as well as the flesh. It is extrememly versatile.
Those crispy edges look amazing. I am not a fan of condensed milk - do you think full fat coconut milk + a bit of sugar would work?
Everyday Maven, fancy seeing you here! These look fabulous...a perfect holiday treat.
I agree with Mrs Riff too... Natural is always beautiful :D
These cookies look wonderful and I can imagine the wonderful fragrance of coconut filling up your kitchen when you are baking these.
These cookies sound fantastic, John! Yeah, I can see how they'd quickly vanish. Although, I agree that natural coloring is the best, there's something to be said for nostalgia coloring, as well. :)
And your photography!!! I doubt anyone could have found a better way to present your cookies. Beautifully done!
"Allow cookies to cool before eating"?!! If only I could :-)
I can't believe I've never made these cookies. I never knew how easy they are! Thanks for the great recipe.
I used to make these as a kid. My favorite part was always the edges of the cookies, which got especially sticky and chewy during baking. ;)
I'd love to be a fly on your kitchen wall when you two are having these discussions. You're a riot.
I've always made traditional macaroons but these look so good! I'll have to try.
Hi Judy, I'm OK with using dye sometimes, but these really do look better without. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.
Hi Uru, if only you could taste one! You'd swoon. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kelly, aren't these good? And maraschino cherries are kinda addictive, aren't they? Sorry to stir up your baking urge! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, you're right that you can add all sorts of goodies to these. Chocolate chips sound wonderful. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Suzanne, those black acrylic photos are so much fun to do! And really easy, once you figure out how to handle your light. Coconut is good stuff, isn't it? Not as good as lemon, IMO, but pretty close! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Alyssa, those crispy edges really are quite nice. Interesting question re the full fat coconut milk - certainly worth trying. I'm wondering if you'd want to reduce it through simmering a bit, though, so the water content isn't so much? It'd be a fun experiment, that's for sure. Let me know how it turns out! Thanks for commenting.
Hi Shut Up and Cook, these really are great. Wonderful anytime, but perfect for the holidays. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Zoe, the aroma of these baking will drive you nuts! They're really great. Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, I really do prefer the natural look of these, but sometimes I do whimper for the red and green dyed one! Thanks for the very kind words, and the comment.
Hi Kristy, this recipe is totally easy. And I can't believe you've never made it either! Time for you to do so, don't you think? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, this is a good cookie for kids to make - really easy. And those edges are great, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, the traditional macaroons are certainly more grown up, but these are lots of fun. And Mrs K R and I do have a good time! Thanks for the comment.
I would love these cookies, but the rest of my family does not like coconut. I think it is wonderful that you carry on the tradition of making these cookies.
Hi Dawn, if your family doesn't like coconut, they really wouldn't like these - tons of coconut flavor. And carrying on traditions is fun, don't you think? Particularly when it means something yummy to eat! Thanks for the comment.
The cherry is definitely needed on top of these cookies, if not for the burst of color but for the burst of cherry flavor with the sweet coconut. These look SO good and I love the crispy browned edges. That's the best part in my book! :)
Hi MJ, isn't that cherry kinda pretty? And the flavor is even better than the way it looks. Those browned edges are wonderful. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I absolutely adore coconut macaroons! I love the idea of dying them green and red; perhaps if I give this good old recipe a go sometime in the near future (i.e. in time for the holidays), I'll dye them and post the pictures so you'll satisfy your nostalgia!
I grew with a lot of these, I love them, its easy to make and a really delicious treat
Hi Ala, if you dye them, you should definitely post picture! ;-) Aren't these a great cookie? Tons of flavor, and quite pretty, too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Raymund, if you grew up with these, you know how good they are! Of course anything with coconut is OK in my book. Thanks for the comment.
I haven't had these cookies in years...I love coconut.
I love coconut macaroons and yours look delicious. I would love for you to come and share your gorgeous pictures with us at foodepix.com.
I felt in love with macaroons 3 years ago and if it reminds it's taste, I'll try it :)
I love Coconut Macaroons and yours look heavenly! I've never made them myself so thank you for the inspiration and recipe.
First time looking at your blog. What a great cookie recipe and I love the pictures too!
Some strange things happens here: I know I was here yesterday, and I know I left a comment... Or I was just thinking to leave the comment? I am confused now...
As I said (or didn't) yesterday, shelf life of this cookies would never be an issue in my home! They look (on photo #3 from the top) like a little clouds of sweet happiness... :)
Now, let's hope this comment posts...
Hi Karen, I love coconut too! And if you haven't made these for years, might be time again, yes? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jo, aren't these nice? Thanks for alerting me to FoodePix - I'll make sure to check it out. And thanks for commenting.
Hi Marta, aren't macaroons (and their variations) so enjoyable? Really good stuff. Thanks for commenting.
Hi Nancy, these are really good! Excellent flavor, and easy to make. I hope you enjoy them! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Daniela, welcome! Isn't this a nice recipe? Thanks for the kinds words, and the comment.
Hi Marina, that's odd - I know I didn't receive a comment from you because all comments are emailed to me (in addition to appearing here). Might have been a Blogger glitch. Anyway, these absolutely didn't last around here. And they are kind of like little clouds of sweet happiness. ;-) Thanks for the comment (and I'm glad this one went through!).
Now all needed is one of your delicious cocktails! :)
What a tasty looking recipe!! I would love to add this to my Christmas cookie ensemble.
Hi Kristi, if you like coconut, this recipe is definitely worth trying, IMO. And it's so nice for Christmas! Thanks for the comment.
And that's the exact reason I tend not to make cookies...they get eaten much too quickly! :P I could definitely see myself loving this coconut and condensed milk are two of my favorite ingredients. They look gorgeous with the cherry garnish.
Your coconut macaroons look delicious, I love the idea of condensed milk in it...I am sure that the taste and flavor of this are super delicious. Very cute with the red, it really gives the "holiday" looks :)
Hope you are having a fantastic week!
Some may call it cookies or macaroons but the thing that draws me to this delightful treat is the coconut. Very attractive shot of that "cookieroons," John! :)
Oh, yeah...these are dreamy...and I could eat the whole batch myself!
OMG these are so incredibly simple with just 3 ingredients - what's not to love. In some ways they remind me of that bar cookie whose name escapes me that I even bake with chocolate chips and a crust. I love sweetened condensed milk, I love it plain in very small doses.
I'll have to try these and I'm sure your wife will make them just the way your mom use to make them this Christmas. I'm sure they won't taste like moms but her heart will be in it.
Sorry I've missed so many of your posts, I've been so busy with my classes that I've even slacked off on my own as well. I hope you are doing well and that you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by family and friends this year.
I love recipes with family history. Even better, this is a cookie recipe I can eat since eggs are never on my menu!
Hi Food Jaunts, yeah, that consumption thing can be a problem. ;-) These are great cookies, though, and well worth making occasionally. Just make them when you know you'll have company so you won't eat them all. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, the flavor of these is excellent. Of course anything with coconut is usually pretty good! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Ray, I like "cookieroons" a lot! Great name. And the coconut is wonderful. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, these really are addictive - once you get started on them, it really is difficult to stop eating! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, must be the busy season - I've been kinda swamped too. These are really delish and quite easy to make. And it's the rare person who doesn't enjoy them - well worth doing. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, if you avoid eggs, this is the type of macaroon for you! Best of all these really have a wonderful flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Okay you had me at macaroon, then you topped it with a cherry. I think I may have passed out. Must...make...now!
A wonderful Xmas treat! Macaroons are quite addictive. I love their texture and flavor so much that I cannot stop eating them...
Hi Kim, yeah, this dish is one I think you'd really like. Plus it's so easy to make! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosa, yes, I have problems when it comes to stop eating these, too! They really are so good. Thanks for the comment.
Ah, these seem much more doable than macarons! What a lovely recipe, and I just love me some condensed milk!
It's scary that I have all the ingredients listed (less the cherries) but I have never made a macaroons although I love everything in coconut flavor. Your vision looks absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Christine, condensed milk can really be a fun ingredient, that's for sure! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Yi, since you have everything, I guess we know what you're doing tonight. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
LOVE that these cookies bake up so quickly because that means I can eat them more quickly :) Also really glad you posted a coconut cookie because the hubster hates coconut which means I will not have to share these with him :) Happy holidays!
Hi Lawyer Loves Lunch, yeah, I pretty much was eating them as quickly as Mrs K R was turning them out (truth be told, she was too!). Hubster doesn't eat coconut? Time for you to make a double batch! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
These are one of my hubby's favorite....but he would only eat the ones that are dipped in dark chocolate. :P He's so spoiled!
Hi Amy, these go really well with chocolate! I like those too, but actually prefer the ones that are plain — plenty of other chocolate things at this time of the year! Thanks for the comment.
Woah! Amazing about the non-pure vanilla. We saw on one of those tv shows about how vanilla is made. Made us understand why those beans are so expensive. A whole lot of work!
Hi Laura, the artificial vanilla is something I've learned to avoid at all costs. And you're right that those vanilla beans are expensive! Lucky thing a little goes a long way. Thanks for the comment.
John...I can see how these can easily fly off the cooling rack! My father loved coconut macaroons and I think I inherited his love of coconut! I like these au naturel...and the cherry on top is the perfect touch! Beautiful cookie, one that I can't wait to try! : )
Hi Anne, if you like coconut, you'll love these! Such a delish cookie. And the cherry just adds extra flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
My fave!!! And such a easy recipe too.
Hi Natalie, isn't it easy? Not to mention delish. And good to see you again! Thanks for commenting.
I honestly didn't know macaroons are so easy to make. I first had this in a little cafe when I started studying abroad (here in the US). I got addicted to it and every coffee I buy I always buy one macaroon. I wish I knew back then how to make this at home, especially if it's simple and easy! I could save some fortune... considering how often I was there! lol.
Hi Nami, macaroons are pretty easy to make; macarons (the French cookie) are a bit more challenging. But they both taste good! And these little coconut jobs taste best of all, IMO. Thanks for your comment.
Macaroons are one my favorite "cookies". And your pictures make them look even more delicious. You are absolutely right you have to bake a lot of those. Well done.
Hi Frank, these go fast, so quantities are important! Thank for the kind words, and the comment.
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