The month of December is practically dedicated to cookies. You can't turn around without bumping into a tray full of frosted sugar cookies, chubby gingerbread men, or sugar-coated bourbon balls. And if you're a cookbook obsessive, you probably already have a good handful of cookie books that you turn to every December. Do you really need another one?
From time to time a cookbook comes out, and I know just by reading through it that the author is a kindred spirit. Cookie Love is one of those books. I’ve never met Mindy Segal, but I can tell just from reading her recipes that we would get along famously. Her recipes are playful, and the cookies they produce are nothing short of spectacular. My favorites are perhaps the ones that are the most unassuming. There’s a lot of perfectly-executed subtlety in this book.
For instance, one of the first recipes I tried from the book was Goat Butter Shortbread. It’s a pretty simple shortbread recipe, but the combination of flavorful goat butter with a touch of toasted wheat germ and whole wheat flour is just perfection. Another good example is the recipe for Dream Bars. It’s just a buttery vanilla cookie topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate and a layer of brown sugar meringue. It doesn’t look like much. But the flavor is beyond words. I would almost say they’re too delicious if that were a thing (it’s totally not).
I’m prepared to say that Mindy is the master of the cookie art form. I humbly bow.
There's even more to love about this book. For one, her recipes contain enough salt. One of the best things about a great dessert is the balance of salty and sweet. If something doesn’t contain enough salt, it lacks balance. I often increase the salt in baking recipes automatically to compensate for this, but Mindy’s recipes are well balanced right out of the gate.
Further, every recipe in this book is thoughtful. As the title suggests, it's clear that a lot of love went into this book. Every recipe I’ve tried from it has not only worked, but has worked perfectly with excellent (and even surprising) results. I have a baker’s dozen of recipes flagged that I intend to make this December—Lemon Goat Butter Tea Cakes, Smoked Chocolate Sablés, Fleur de Sel Shortbread with Vanilla Halvah, Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam...they’ve got me hook, line, and sinker.
But I chose this recipe to share with you because it's subtle. Just when you thought nothing more could be done with the classic coconut macaroon, Mindy changes a couple little things and makes an extraordinary cookie. Instead of the usual sweetened condensed milk, she calls for cream of coconut, and she uses both shredded and flaked coconut for better texture. I don’t hesitate to say that these are the best coconut macaroons I’ve ever had, and the recipe is incredibly simple.
Mindy Segal's Coconut Macaroons
Makes 20 cookies
Reprinted with permission from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal (Ten Speed Press). Copyright © 2015.
Author’s headnote: When looking to create a macaroon that resembled a Mounds bar, I deviated from classic coconut macaroon recipes in a few significant ways. I used two kinds of unsweetened coconut—shredded and flaked—for textural variation. (You can find both kinds in the bulk bins at the grocery store.) Instead of condensed milk, I opted for cream of coconut for sweetness, which is pretty much the condensed milk version of coconut milk. Finally, to give the macaroons a cool shape, I chilled the batter and then packed it into rectangular cookie cutters. Once baked and cooled, I like to dip the bottoms of the macaroons in an array of chocolate, melting ½ cup each (in separate bowls) of bittersweet, milk, and caramelized white chocolate wafers for variety.
To make this cookie, you will need a 1 by 2-inch cookie cutter or a 2-inch square cookie cutter. (Full disclosure—I seem to have misplaced my collection of cookie cutters, so I made them in a traditional mounded macaroon shape, but if you have a square or rectangular cookie cutter, I would try Mindy’s method.)
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 ½ cups flaked unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon salt
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
6 ounces chocolate of your choice, melted, for dipping
1. In a bowl, use your hands to mix the shredded and flaked coconut with the salt. Mix in the egg white, followed by the cream of coconut. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, giving the coconut enough time to absorb some of the liquid, at least 2 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Have a nonstick pan ready or line a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Put a 1 by 2-inch (or 2-inch square) cutter on the prepared pan. Spoon some of the macaroon batter into the cutter and pack down slightly to create a rectangle. Leave the top spiky. Repeat with the remaining batter, evenly spacing the cookies on the pan.
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more, or until the tops are golden brown. Let the macaroons cool completely on the pan.
5. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dip the bottoms of the cookies into the melted chocolate, shake off the excess, and place on the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set.
6. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.