I was  twelve when I had my first coconut macaroon. My dad had taken me to Mexico. When traveling with my father you have to be comfortable with the unknown. The taking the long way. The adventure. We didn't simply fly to a resort and experience the cookie cutter Disneyland-esque vacation. Instead we flew to a semi known area and took a bus deep into an even lesser known area.
To hotels where we had no reservations.  Eating whole, eye intact fish from street vendors; buying both churros and huaraches from three story fresh air markets; walking into every Mexican bakery we could find. It was in one of these bakeries I had the sweet, chewy, caramely coconuty goodness known as a coconut macaroon.

Coconut macaroons are still one of my Dad's favorites. I make them a few times a year. Usually for his birthday {which just happened to be yesterday}.

I love this recipe for many reasons. They're gluten free.  They are made with only two ingredients. They are so easy.

Gather  your ingredients

One 14 ounce bag of sweetened shredded coconut (equal to about 5 1/3 cups). One 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. That's it.
BUT, you can also add 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Totally not required, though.

Pour the condensed milk into a large mixing bowl. 

If you are using vanilla and salt, add those to the condensed milk and stir.

Add the shredded coconut and mix until combined.

Cover and refrigerate at least an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

The parchment paper makes things much easier, but I have made these many times sans parchment. Just grease the baking sheet. The bottoms will come out slightly darker and your sheet will be messier, but it will be okay. 

After at least an hour of chilling, scoop tightly packed spoonfuls of the coconut mixture onto your baking sheet.

I like to use a tablespoon sized ice cream scoop.

These cookies only spread a very minimal amount so you can crowd the pan. I use a full size sheet pan and the entire batch fits on one pan.

Bake until golden brown. About 16-20 minutes.

 Remove immediately onto cooling racks.

Eat. Or package up and share with your father.

Customize It!

You can dip the bottoms in melted chocolate (good way to hide cookies that perhaps were cooked without parchment and got a little dark. just sayin.)

You can add mini chocolate chips or chopped almonds (or both!) in the mix before baking.

You can drizzle with chocolate or colored candy melts to fit any occasion.

You can add a tablespoon cocoa powder to the sweetened condensed milk.

You can substitute almond, coconut, banana or any extract you like for the vanilla extract.

You can blend up a handful of fresh raspberries, or half a banana and add to the sweetened condensed milk (add more coconut to soak up the extra liquid).

Coconut Macaroons

recipeby Tristin Rieken at ONEarmedMAMA.com

  • 1 14 ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut (about 5 1/3 cups)
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 T vanilla (optional)
  • 1/8 t salt (optional)
  • Stir vanilla and salt into condensed milk in large mixing bowl
  • Add shredded coconut and mix until combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate mixture at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit.
  • Drop chilled mixture by packed spoonfuls onto greased parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  • Bake until golden brown. About 16-20 minutes.
  • Transfer immediately to wire racks to cool.
Yield: 24 cookies. 

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