Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

February 18, 2011 at 5:23 am 74 comments

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

This morning I woke up with an inexplicable craving for bubble tea.

Instead I ate a bowl of cereal and made it to class barely on time. I took notes, asked questions, and when I walked out the door, it felt like October instead of mid February. The temperature flirted with the low 40s. Cause for celebration! I wore a flowery skirt, smiled at strangers, and I still wanted bubble tea.

I didn’t even drop off my bags. I walked straight from the classroom, down the street into Boston’s Chinatown, knowing exactly what I was looking for.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

A few weeks before Halloween, when I was still in the process of making friends in a big new world, my floormate M- and I decided to get lunch. We’re both half Asian, and we both missed Chinese food, so we headed into Chinatown together.

Chinatown is squeezed between Downtown Crossing and the South End. It’s small, but dense, stuffed with grocery stores, jewelry shops, and narrow brick alleyways. Heaps of snow stay frozen solid in the shadows of tall buildings pressed close together. Cars honk. The edges of sidewalks are congested with scraps of packaging and cigarette butts, and you can’t see what’s around the corner until you actually turn, but what can I say? I love Chinatowns. They’ve got a character you can’t quite capture anywhere else.

M- and I didn’t know where to get good food, so we explored until we found a tiny but promising café. There were no tables, just a laminated menu taped to a counter and a long line. We ordered rice, barbeque chicken, pork buns, and why not – two coconut bubble teas.

Flaked Coconut

The food was good, but the bubble tea was the star of the meal. Thick and fragrant, it used coconut cream, not powder. Every sip tasted tropical and real – like a spoon scraped against the white walls of a split coconut – as opposed to the suntan lotion taste of most imitations. It was good enough to remember months later.

I could recall the bubble tea fairly well, but I had no idea how to get there. I wandered into Chinatown and made lefts and rights at random, ending up on crooked side streets lined with shops like uneven teeth. Just when I was about to give up, I recognized the sign, innocently tucked between a row of restaurant windows. I ran through a puddle of melted snow and across the empty street, yanked open the door and bought myself a bubble tea.

It didn’t even survive the trip home. Not a big surprise, considering I got lost on the way back. I’ll have to adventure into Chinatown walkabout-style every time I want to rediscover this bubble tea, but I think it’s a worthwhile experience.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Back when I worked at Seastar Restaurant, with chefs all around me baking chocolate molten cakes and slow-cooking cedar plank salmon, coconut was my favorite smell in the entire restaurant. We’d spread flakes of coconut on a baking sheet and toast them, later to be sprinkled over the white chocolate coconut cream pie. After mere minutes in the oven, the most seductive smell wafted down the line. No matter what I was doing, I’d start to work in a daze, dreaming of paradise.

I can’t understand when people say they hate coconut. I can, however, see why some people don’t like coconut macaroons. Too often they’re over-the-top sweet and gluey.

But when you find a good macaroon you get something special. The cookie is light and chewy, with toasty crisp edges. The coconut flavor is pure, not masked by sugar. A dip in dark chocolate adds richness without cloying sweetness. It’s dynamite. How could you not want more?

[Writing, baking, photographing. Blogging. Waitressing. Radio-ing. A second job with the admissions office at my school. Homework. …Sleep? I don’t know how I managed to make second semester even busier than my first, but I’m really trying. Thanks for sticking through with me!]

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Another good thing about macaroons – they’re one of the easiest desserts to make on a whim. They only require a few ingredients and a couple of steps. The most time consuming part of the process was forming the pyramid-shaped macaroons, but it’s minimal effort to push the edges of coconut up into a triangle.

Also, don’t overlook the almond extract. It’s strong stuff, to be used in small doses, but it adds a special something to an already wonderful cookie.

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Orangette
Makes a dozen large macaroons

3 cups lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup egg whites (about 5 or 6 large whites)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Combine the coconut, sugar, and egg whites in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat for about 10-12 minutes, or until the mixture is pasty but not dry. Over time, the mixture gets somewhat creamy, then begins to dry out – remove from heat when it is no longer creamy, but sticky rather than dry. Mix in the extracts. Spread the coconut mixture into a thin layer on a sheet pan and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Pack the coconut mixture into a 1/4 measuring cup or scoop. You can pack them into domes, or use your fingers to press them into pyramids. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it steams. Remove the pan from heat and add the bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Dip cookies in the chocolate (or spoon chocolate over them) and set on a parchment-lined sheet. Chill in the fridge until the chocolate sets, about 2 hours. Then store the macaroons in the fridge in an airtight container.

Printer-Friendly Recipe – Coconut Macaroons

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The Kitchen Generation Coconut Pecan “Why Not” Pie with Walnuts and Toffee

74 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Twinkle  |  February 18, 2011 at 5:53 am

    These look delicious =) I absolutely love coconut!

  • 2. Liz @ Blog is the New Black  |  February 18, 2011 at 7:06 am

    One of my fav cookies!

  • 3. Mishelle  |  February 18, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I haven’t bubble tea before but I have a friend who lives in BC who loves it, he was intro’d to it when he lived in Australia and wants me to try it. Coconut bubble tea sounds good though, I love coconut and hope to try your recipe soon.

    Good luck in class!


  • 4. xin yuan  |  February 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

    hello elissa!
    you should totally come to singapore! there’s too many good asian food and loads of bubbletea shops over here!

    good luck in school and please update more. love reading your blog (and kitchen gen)!

    xinyuan from singapore
    p.s. we’re same age! ;)

  • 5. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  February 18, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Now I want bubble tea!..and these macaroons. At least I can make one :)

  • 6. hannah @ pickled sweets  |  February 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

    while I very much prefer macarons french style, I wouldn’t pass up a plate of these. They look divine!

  • 7. Sharlene  |  February 18, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Beautiful as always, Elissa! Hope your second semester is going well and you’re taking time to breathe!

  • 8. linda  |  February 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

    i never heard of bubble tea…so i just googled …(no… i do not live under a rock!)
    & since we love tea…bubble tea will be added to our repertoire…& i love coconut…so i am in!
    we know that you are extremely busy & will visit any time you post…no stress…just enjoy each day!
    btw: love the kitchen generation: success!

  • 9. Allison  |  February 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Oh how I love macaroons; and really any food with coconut in it for that matter. I’ve been looking for the ultimate macaroon recipe, I will have to give this one a try!

  • 10. Allix  |  February 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    These look delicious! I’ve actually been thinking about making coconut macaroons… Thanks for the recipe! :)

  • 11. Sue  |  February 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Of course your loyal readers will stick with you. I, for one, am expecting you to do amazing things! Love the Kitchen Generation! And please take some time for yourself this semester. Spring in Boston is wonderful!

  • 12. KnitPastis  |  February 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I was so happy when I saw you put this recipe up! I want one right now:) Have all ingredients but the heavy cream. You think yogurt or buttermilk might work in place of heavy cream?

    I know what I am going to have if I ever visit Boston. Bubble Tea! It’s been years since I have had one. I have only tried the green tea bubble tea. Would love to see photos of Boston’s China town the next time you are out there. Especially the small cafe where you had your coconut bubble tea!

    • 13. Elissa  |  February 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      KnitPastis – I don’t think yogurt or buttermilk would really work in the ganache. You could try using milk or just leaving it out completely. Both will make the chocolate a little different to work with, but it should still taste good.

  • 14. Jordan  |  February 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    These look delicious – I can’t wait to try them out myself! Do you happen to remember the name of the place where you found such delectable bubble tea in Chinatown?

  • 15. Kocinera  |  February 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Coconut macaroons are the best!! I can still remember eating one for the first time years and years ago (chocolate-dipped, too). I guess that just goes to show you just how great these little beauties are! :D

  • 16. Sheena  |  February 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I’ve still never tried a macaroon, they look like such a simple and wonderful cookie, and I Iove the sound of an almond flavoured one. I love coconut bubble tea, but my favourite is taro milk tea after a friend introduced me to it. As always, I really enjoyed your post, Elissa :)

  • 17. Kristen  |  February 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I do love coconut and coconut macaroons. I go for the condensed milk variety, but they’re not overly sweet because I don’t add any other sugar… I also cheat and add a little bit of flour.

  • 18. jacquie  |  February 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    do you think unsweetened cocounut would work? i don’t tend to like the sweetened – it’s just too sweet. or is there something in the sweetening process that changes the texture or consistency of the coconut so it wouldn’t?

    • 19. Elissa  |  February 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      jacquie – I think unsweetened would work without having a huge effect on the texture! Just add some more sugar (or don’t, if you like your macaroons on the not-sweet side.)

  • 20. Nina  |  February 19, 2011 at 1:55 am

    these look amazingly delicious….beautifully done! What a spectacular use of coconut. Gorgeous photos, as always.

  • 21. Michelle  |  February 19, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Hi there!!! I follow your blog but i don’t comment often but I’m a Bostonian too and this post struck me!

    I’m going to Tufts for dental school, which is RIGHT in CHinatown so girl, if you EVER need any recommendations for Chinatown restaurants, please feel free to use me!!! Seriously, I think i’ve been to 70% of the places/eateries and bakeries there and I’ve reviewed almost all of them on Yelp! :) If you like taro, the taro bubble teas area AMAZING at Pho Hoa II!!! And if you haven’t been to dimsum at Hei La Moon it is THE place to be on weekends! Their dimsum is actually quite delicious, compared to the ones I’ve had in Hong Kong growing up!

    Good luck with school and everything else. I love your pictures….I’m no fan of coconut (the shredded kind) so I’m gonna be awaiting your next recipe. :P

  • 22. Geni - Sweet and Crumby  |  February 19, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Coconut and dark chocolate are my favorite flavor combination…better than any famous couple in history. Your macaroon looks perfect. Too me, much better than a French macaroon. Now I feel I must try bubble tea. I live in Los Angeles and will possibly head to China Town today with my daughter. Thanks for the tip! :)

  • 23. Ann Flora  |  February 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Thanks for bringing back fond memories of the scent of toasting coconut at the bakery/cafe where I used to work. We used it to garnish coconut cream pie, too. And we made macaroons dipped in chocolate. Yummm.
    Thanks also for sharing the link to instructions for the super cheap light box. It inspried me to make my own. Someday soon I hope to have photos as lovely as yours.

  • 24. Samantha  |  February 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    What gives with the removal of the popular recipes bar on the homepage?I liked being able to find them quickly like that!Please bring it back, pleasepleaseprettyplease.

    • 25. Elissa  |  February 20, 2011 at 1:28 am

      Samantha – Total honesty. I deleted the popular posts section because I thought nobody used it, and it was taking up space on the side bar. Looks like I was wrong. :) Just spent 20 minutes sifting through old posts and picking out my favorites for the new and improved Popular Posts 2.0 section. This time it’ll stay up for good!

  • 26. Margarita  |  February 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Your posts are always so lovely. I feel so fortunate to be able to see those beautiful pictures you take. Sometimes I feel like I’ve entered a magical vault of beautiful treasures when I open your posts. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Please keep them coming whenever you can. I love macaroons, mmmmmmmmmmm.

  • 27. Livin' in the Kitchen  |  February 20, 2011 at 2:01 am

    These look delish!
    Thanks for sharing : )

  • 28. asugarcoatedink  |  February 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I absolutely love bubble tea, I get those cravings occasionally. The unflavored milk tea is so delicious itself that I have a hard time ordering other flavors, but I may have to try coconut. Agh, the cravings are back.

    Those are interesting macaroons. Very fresh and pure looking.

  • 29. Rachel  |  February 20, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Hey there!

    I didn’t know what bubble tea was either until I googled it. It looks fantastic! Just like these macaroons! :)

    Btw, I’m trying really hard to find a great fondant recipe. Nothing I’ve tried so far is good enough to eat very much of. I figured you of all people might have some good insight. Have any good recipes?

    And if you get a chance, like always, it would be awesome if you could check out my blog: http://rachie–

    <3 Rachel

  • 30. Samantha  |  February 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Yay! Thanks Elissa, I was kind of making my way through the list. I’ve made Raspberry Ganche Cake and I will be tackling Chrysanthemum cupcakes and tiny peanutbutter chocolate buttons next.AWESOME!

  • 31. Aundrea L.  |  February 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    When I woke up this morning I went onto your blog and the first thing that popped up were these delicious coconut macaroons. Now I have been craving something with coconut and edge for baking! Thank you for blogging!

  • 32. Lauren @ L-Mo Cooks  |  February 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    These are my favorite cookies ever. I’ll have to try this version soon!

  • 33. megabite  |  February 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Now I want to go get some steamed buns in Chinatown with bubble tea.

    P.S. These cookies are lovely!

  • 34. Håndmadder  |  February 23, 2011 at 3:08 am

    So simple, but so tastfull! I loove these..

  • 35. Alessandra Zecchini  |  February 24, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Hi, first time here, lovely blog you have. Brava!

  • 36. Delishhh  |  February 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Just saw that you are now in Boston. I moved from boston to Seattle. Love both cities both have pros/cons. Love your blog. And the macaroons are some of my favorite desserts.

  • 37. Amanda  |  February 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I love ready your blog and how you describe the food in such detail that it makes me want to try these new foods. I have never heard of bubble tea but it sounds great and i will definitely try it soon!

  • 38. Carolyn  |  February 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I love this sentence!

    I wandered into Chinatown and made lefts and rights at random, ending up on crooked side streets lined with shops like uneven teeth.

    Mostly because I am a writer, and a soon to be dentist. :)

  • 39. jessncanfield  |  February 26, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Looks yummy! They are my moms favorite cookie and will be on my to make list this weekend!

  • 40. i heart salt  |  February 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    The reason I hate coconut is that coconut tasted like sun tan lotion smells! Blech!! But my mother LOVES it, so I faithfully make her various coconut desserts. She claims this is the definition of love. I will give this recipe a whirl!! Thansk!!

  • 41. Pudding Pie Lane  |  February 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I also now have a massive craving for bubble tea :)

    I like the coconut recipe, I always think it’s under appreciated in the baking world :)

  • 42. Heather H.  |  February 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I love when you talk about Boston and your college life! I eagerly await college, and I may end up in Boston as well! You should really consider opening up your own cafe or restaurant in the area. There are plenty of your recipes that I would love to try!

  • 43. Jasmine M  |  February 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I absolutely love coconut too!. I love how you always tie the food in with your life in some way in your writing.

  • 44. Stephanie  |  February 28, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Looks so tasty!

    I love bubble tea.. when I was living in Vancouver I had either green apple green tea with pineapple jelly or just milk tea with pearls every day

  • 45. RWS  |  February 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    When you’re as old as I am, and you’re teeth are as bad as mine are, then you too will hate coconut…..

    Those do look good though.

  • 46. Lauren B.  |  February 28, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    What I love most about your blog is that you are able to share stories and your experiences with different foods in a way that makes them sound delicious. After reading this post it makes me want to start making coconut everything!

  • 47. ashley  |  March 1, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Those look delicious and I definitely want to try them sometime. As always I love reading your posts, because of how you tie your life into the recipes.

  • 48. Kellie  |  March 1, 2011 at 4:19 am

    You’re writing is so descriptive; I can picture everything in my mind as I read!

  • 49. annakristina28  |  March 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

    My husband and I were just in (Boston’s) Chinatown last weekend to try out the relatively new “Dumpling Cafe” – we’d been searching for a place that would have something like the juicy pork dumplings we ate at Din Tai Fung in Singapore. And it was a success! Your description of the coconut bubble tea makes me want to go back this weekend. I love coconut.

    As always, your writing and photography is just lovely, and I’m happy to read whenever you have time to post, even if it isn’t often!

  • 50. plandeki  |  March 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I like your post m8 3) I’ll surely be peeping into it again soon! ;)

  • 51. Lea  |  March 3, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Just wanted to let you know that I LOVE your blog!
    Your goods look all so delicious, everythink looks so yummy the way you photograph it, and I’m sure everything is!
    Coconut and chocolate is a wonderful combination. I just want to eat it when I look at it!
    Keep on! :)

  • 52. Amaranthian  |  March 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I grew up in Boston, and seeing you talk about Chinatown really brings me back. My friend and I used to go to this little streetcart that sold the best banh mi. We had to find it the same way you found your bubble tea, by just walking around until we eventually stumbled upon it. The stumbling was definitely an important (and fun!) part of the experience.

    I’ve always hated coconut, mostly a texture thing. Lately though, I’ve been getting into it more, and I can’t wait to give these a try. They look simply delicious. Thanks!

  • 53. Tanya  |  March 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I just stumbled on your blog, and let me just say, I’m enjoying every post! I’m also a half-Asian, Boston-dwelling, West-Coast transplant who started baking early and never stopped. I knew there had to be more of us out there! ;)

    These macaroons remind me of one of my favorite brownie recipes– Alice Medrich does a fabulous coconut-topped brownie that I haven’t made in ages, but I may just have to break out the good chocolate and try a batch…

    (And as for bubble tea, I tend to get mine at the tiny banh mi shop, “163 Vietnamese Sandwich.” They also do fruit smoothies!


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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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