I think I’ve tested about 12 versions of vegan macaroons for this post. Seriously. For a bite-size dessert that should be really simple to make, that’s a lot of trial and error. Here’s what’s kept me up at night with this recipe: replacing the eggs. Now for most baking recipes, it’s pretty easy to replace eggs. Applesauce, flax, aquafaba, powdered egg replacers…each are perfectly acceptable substitutes and work well in specific types of baking. For instance, applesauce is a great substitute in muffins, as is flax. Aquafaba is a dream in things like brownies or even cookies, and powdered egg replacers make cake-baking a breeze. But macaroons are a different case.
They are light and delicate and unlike the other baked goods mentioned above, they have very little holding them together other than the egg binder. Most baking recipes call for flour – and a good amount of it too – along with a certain amount of liquid, and that helps hold everything together. Its like the base of each recipe. Macaroons rely on shredded or desiccated coconut (desiccated coconut is a drier and more finely ground version of coconut than its shredded counterpart), and coconut is not very binding. (Which led me to another revelation: macaroons NEED some sort of flour. Almond or coconut – or even all purpose if you’re not making these for passover. Asking shreds of coconut to stick together with nothing but a bit of liquid is a tall task.)
The other thing about coconut macaroons is that they are very distinctly coconut flavored. And egg whites (which are typically used in macaroons) are very neutral in that they don’t impart flavor. So I needed something neutral – or something coconut.
I’ve read a lot on the internet about using aquafaba for macaroons. I’m a huge fan of aquafaba, so I tried it. I tried it whipped, whipped with sugar, whipped with cream of tartar, whipped with both sugar and cream of tartar. Then I tried it straight out of the can. I tried it with a little bit, and with a lot. And after all that trying I have to say, I’m not sold on it. While aquafaba has worked well for me in the past in recipes like my super-chewy fudgy brownies, they just didn’t cut it here. In my experiments, aquafaba either didn’t bind the coconut mix together enough, leaving it very crumbly to the touch, or it made the mix too wet and mushy after being baked.
So I had a thought: if it’s coconut macaroons I’m making, and I want real coconut flavor, what about coconut milk? It’s thick, rich, binds well with flour and is full of coconut flavor. The trick (as I learned through a few test runs), is to be very careful about the amount. Too much coconut milk will leave the macaroons very wet and keep them from getting that golden, toasted crust. But the right amount (which for this recipe is 1 cup), combined with shredded coconut and almond flour, creates the perfect tender-chewy macaroon cookie. Finally!
To get your macaroons perfectly chewy on the outside and soft but not under-baked on the inside, use a 1 inch or 1.5 inch cookie scoop packed really well for each macaroon. Packing them keeps the cookies’s shape and the small size helps them bake evenly and thoroughly. Trust me on this…I put every size cookie scoop I own to the test on this one.
So there you have it: the perfect little vegan coconut almond macaroon. With a chocolate drizzle to top it off, because why not?
Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons
3 cups shredded or desiccated coconut
1 cup coconut milk (full fat, not light)
1/3 – 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup liquid sweetener of choice (I used #NoBees vegan honey, but agave or maple syrup works just as well)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine coconut, coconut milk, 1/3 cup almond flour, almond and vanilla extract, sweetener of choice, sliced almonds and salt. Stir well to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes for mix to absorb coconut milk.
If after 5 minutes, the mix is a bit too liquid, add 2 more tablespoons of almond flour and mix well.
Using a small (1 inch or 1.5 inch) ice cream scoop, pack scoopfuls of dough really well and place gently onto lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bottoms are golden and tops are lightly toasted. Cool completely on rack.
Transfer to wire rack (with a lined baking sheet underneath to catch drippings). Melt chocolate in the microwave in :30 increments, stirring after each interval, until melted. Stir in coconut oil (this will make the chocolate shiny and easier to drizzle).
Using a spoon, or squeeze bottle if you have one, drizzle chocolate over macaroons and allow to set.