Hello, holiday cookie season. We’re officially ready for you, thanks to pastry chef and recipe developer Erin McDowell’s easy-peasy caramel coconut macaroons. They’re our favorite new cookies, and that’s saying something.
“These sort of taste like the top of a Girl Scout Cookie, just without the chocolate and without the cookie,” the author of The Fearless Baker tells us. “They’re made with a very simple homemade caramel sauce—it’s just a few ingredients—that plays as the sugar in the recipe. But they’re not cloying; they have more of a burnt sugar flavor, which is nice around the holidays when everything else is so sweet. They’d even be great dipped in chocolate or finished with flaky salt.” Be still our caramel-loving heart.
“So they have that caramelly flavor on the inside, but then you also spoon a little bit of the sauce on the outside as they’re baking and it slides down the macaroon like a glaze,” McDowell continues, “but it loses its stickiness because of that time in the oven.” Read: They’re easy to pack into cookie boxes and pick up with your fingers. “They’re going to be one of my favorite cookies for around the holidays,” she tells us, “but really anytime…because they’re so delicious.”
Like we said, new favorite cookies.
⅔ cup (132g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (45g) heavy cream
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
3 large (106g) egg whites
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3½ cups (396g) shredded unsweetened coconut
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and 3 tablespoons (45g) water over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar begins to dissolve and the mixture comes to a simmer. Once it’s bubbling, stop stirring. If any sugar crystals have washed up onto the side of the pot, wash them away with a pastry brush dipped into cool water.
2. Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to caramelize. Do not stir the mixture, but you can swirl the pot slightly over the burner to help distribute the heat more evenly (this can be helpful if one side of your burner is hotter than the other). Continue to cook until the mixture is a light amber. Remove the pot from the heat and continue to swirl until it darkens a little bit more, 15 to 30 seconds.
3. Add the butter and cream, and stir to combine. The mixture will bubble up and steam (don’t worry, this is normal). Add the salt and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Pour ⅓ cup (91g) of the cooled caramel sauce into a large bowl, reserving the rest. Add the sweetened condensed milk, egg white and vanilla, and whisk well to combine. Add the coconut and stir to combine with a silicone spatula.
5. Scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets (2 tablespoons per cookie), staggering the rows and leaving at least 1½ inches between each cookie. Spoon the remaining caramel over each cookie (about ½ teaspoon for each). If necessary, warm the caramel in 15-second increments in the microwave to loosen it.
6. Transfer the baking sheets to the oven and bake until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely.