I have found most people have a love-hate relationship with coconut. Either they crave it and can't live without it or they want nothing to do with it. I am a coconut lover, when I was little my family used to go to the beach every weekend- and I mean every single weekend. We had coconut trees at our beach house and fresh coconut water consumed through a paper straw was the drink of choice. But, for me the best part was getting a baby coconut, drinking the water, then having it split in half and scooping out the still gelatinous coconut meat inside. In my world of food, there is not much that can top that.
So until we moved to the United States, for me coconuts were always fresh. There is nothing like a fresh coconut, but in baking there isn't that big of a difference. (Well, aside from the coconut candies, but that's a whole other story!) I have recently found unsweetened coconut which is frozen, I like to use it in cakes and custards because it doesn't add extra sweetness- and I don't like my desserts to be too sweet. But for these macaroons, I used the widely available sweetened flaked variety.
Coconut Macaroons with Orange Zest
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 14 oz bag sweetened flaked coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon Orange zest
3 egg whites at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 F
1. In a large bowl combine coconut, condensed milk, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix well, then set aside.
2. Beat egg whites with a mixer or by hand until medium stiff peaks.
3. Fold egg whites into coconut mixture until egg whites are almost all the way incorpoarted. Do this gently so as to not completely deflate egg whites. I sometimes do it by hand so I control it a bit better.
4. With a cookie scoop (about 2"in diameter), scoop out spoonfuls of coconut mixture and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Store covered, at room temperature.