Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons


My late grandfather (known affectionately to us all as "Nonno") was always the center of any family dinner. Whether we realized it or not, my mother and I would always gear our menu towards Nonno's tastes, always eager to impress -- an excellent cook himself, a compliment from him was high praise. Before any Father's Day or Christmas or Easter dinner, we would make sure that the house was spotless. We would prepare at least 3 different appetizers (Nonno loved to start the evening with a glass of wine and a bruschetta,) the beef tenderloin or turkey had to be perfectly cooked, and dessert usually had to include one of Nonno's favorite ingredients: pecans and/or coconut. We made him everything from chocolate coconut pecan pie to coconut cheesecake to coconut layer cake, not to mention this Inside Out German Chocolate Cake, which Nonno ate with gusto, bringing home the leftovers to share with his golf buddies (the cake was extremely difficult to make for my 13 year old self and I couldn't have been more pleased with his reaction). 

Apart from being the king of all family gatherings, Nonno was the supplier of our annual Christmas lasagna, one of the best things I'll ever eat and will probably never be able to completely replicate. He could make fresh pasta from scratch, whip up a pan sauce in the blink of an eye, and was the king of ragรน. His house always smelled like something good was cooking -- and even today when I smell olive oil heating in a pan, or sauce simmering on the stove, I think of my Nonno. He was an incredible golf player, a cheese and wine enthusiast, and the organizer of my very first trip to Italy, back in 2003, which proved to be life changing for me.

When Nonno passed away in October 2013, we were all at a bit of a loss. My family had their first Thanksgiving meal in a restaurant, and Christmas just wasn't quite the same. Over the years we have slowly but surely started to construct our family gatherings without Nonno, though he is never far from our thoughts and I always -- even three years later -- expect to see him walk through the door with my grandmother, bottles of wine in tow.

The minute I saw this recipe for Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons I thought of my Nonno. We would've made batches of these for him, and he would've scarfed them down at an alarmingly fast rate (my grandmother would've probably scolded him and then hid them). But with good reason -- these are incredibly chocolate-y and fudge-y and almost brownie-like thanks to both melted chocolate and cocoa powder, which perfectly balance the sweet coconut. They are soft and chewy in texture, not to mention extra pretty with a dusting of powdered sugar over the top (don't leave this out!) Bonus: these are also incredibly easy to make -- the recipe is just a matter of blending the ingredients together in a food processor, no electric beaters or softened butter required. Make them for someone you love and enjoy. 

DARK CHOCOLATE COCONUT MACAROONS

Ingredients:
1 (14 ounce) bag shredded sweetened coconut
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (about 1/3 cup) unsweetened chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
Powdered sugar for decorating

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, blend the coconut for one whole minute, until it is finely chopped. Add in the cocoa powder and sugar and process again for another minute. In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg whites, and salt. Add to the coconut and cocoa mixture in the food processor and blend again until well combined. Add the melted, cooled chocolate to the coconut mixture in the food processor and blend again until combined.

Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, portion out the coconut mixture in 1 inch mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until the macaroons are shiny and just set. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the cookie sheet. Let cool completely and dust with powdered sugar. Makes about 48 small cookies (if you use a tablespoon) or about 25 larger cookies (if you use a standard ice cream scoop, like I did). 

Recipe from www.smittenkitchen.com




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