Coconut Meringues with a surprise inside

When I was a young girl just learning how to bake, my Dad always wanted me to make coconut macaroons. I tried several different recipes. Although my Dad was so good at giving me plenty of positivie feedback, when it came to macaroons, he definitely knew what he wanted. His preference was a cookie that had paper thin meringue shell that cracked when he bit into it. Once his teeth crumbled the the thin  crust, they met a soft, chewy center loaded with sweet coconut. So, with each bite, there was crunch, melt-in-the-mouth meringue, and soft, chewy coconut.

My Dad has been gone for many years. I haven’t made coconut macaroons in probably that many years. But, when I made a baked pasta dish for my newspaper column this week, I used six egg yolks. That meant I had 6 egg whites in a jar in my refrigerator. I just can’t throw them out.

I pulled out a recipe I got from my friend, Helen. Each holiday season she makes fancy little meringue cookies with a chocolate kiss hiding inside every cookie. She flavors them with peppermint and dusts each cookie with holiday-colored sprinkling sugar. They are pretty and delicious.

I decided to use Helen’s recipe as a base and make an addition of lots of coconut. I was feeling quite melancholy as I beat the egg whites, adding the sugar a little at a time. Rather than mint flavoring, I used vanilla to flavor the meringue. Once the mixture formed stiff peaks, I gently folded in 3 cups of coconut. I use coconut I buy at my local food co-op. It is unsweetened and chopped to a fine texture. Flaked coconut from the grocery store will work just fine. Just chop it up a little before adding it to the meringue mixture.

I find parchment paper is a good way to go for baking the Surprise Coconut Meringue Cookies. They won’t stick and it makes clean-up very quick and easy.

I’m sure my Dad would have loved these cookies. A thin crunchy crust on the outside, chewy coconut-laden inside. I know he would not have appreciated the chocolate surprise in the middle, though. They would be just as wonderful without chocolate. But for a chocholic like me, the kiss in the middle is essential.

What’s your favorite way to use up egg whites? These are a couple of mine, but I could use some more ideas:

  • egg white omelette
  • whisk egg whites a bit with a tish of water before rolling balls of thumbprint cookie dough into the mixture and then into chopped nuts or coconut. The egg whites work as glue to hold the nuts to the dough before baking.

Surprise Coconut Meringue Kisses

  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 bag milk chocolate kisses
  • Sprinkling sugar

In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer), beat egg whites with vanilla, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until very stiff peaks form. Gently fold coconut into the meringue. Drop mixture from a tablespoon 1 1/2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press a chocolate kiss (Helen says to give them a twist as you push them through the meringue) into each mound of meringue. With knife or narrow spatula, bring meringue up and over the chocolate kiss to cover completely. Swirl top. Sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake in preheated 275-degree oven for 30 minutes or until set. Immediately remove cookies to cooling rack.

  • You can definitely cut this recipe in half. I had 6 egg whites to use up, though. On Helen’s recipe, she notes that when using just 3 egg whites, you will get about 44 cookies.

 

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