When my friend Ansh chose Holi, the festival of colors celebration, as the March Progressive Eats theme, I thought I would be too busy to join in the fun. This year at least, Holi coincides with Passover. I couldn’t imagine how I would fit a Holi-themed dish into my Passover preparations. But then, I dreamed of Colorful Passover Coconut Macaroons. These morsels are not only a perfect culinary mixed marriage, they also allowed me to join the Holi-themed party and prepare for Passover at the same time.
Holi celebrates the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. Although it began as a Hindu religious holiday, Holi is now widely celebrated by other communities as well. Holi’s significance goes beyond the bright colors that are its trademark. Still, the colors are what are most notable in many descriptions of the holiday that I found.
Passover also celebrates Spring and the triumph of good over evil. The holiday traces the Jewish slaves’ escape from Egypt. The Haggadah, which guides celebrants through the Passover meal or Seder, tells that story through prayers, songs, food, and ceremonial glasses of wine.
I cook and bake like crazy as the holiday approaches. From Passover rolls, to charoset, to Passover-friendly desserts, I am all about the food of this holiday. My macaroons are never store-bought and often slightly off-beat. I’ve done nut-free macaroon pyramids and coconut almond macaroons that my daughter called Meringuroons.
So why not marry the color theme of Holi to the traditional coconut macaroon of Passover? Adding another macaroon recipe to my repertoire seemed like the perfect solution. And so I created Colorful Passover Coconut Macaroons, my fun and delicious Holi Passover sweet.
These macaroons celebrate both holidays, but you can enjoy them without celebrating either one. In fact, you can make them just because they make you smile.
Before we get to the recipe, a few tips on colorful macaroon-making.
How to Make Coconut Macaroons with Sprinkles
- What are macaroons? First of all, macaroons are not macarons. Although both are delicious cookies, macaroons are typically round or at least tall sweets made of coconut and/or chopped nuts. By contrast, macarons are ground almond sandwich cookies with a buttercream filling. For a history of these cookies and how they developed, see this fascinating article.
- The macaroon base. Most macaroons use beaten egg whites as their base. Some recipes also call for sweetened condensed milk, while others require just coconut, egg whites, sugar, and flavoring. I took a middle route with this recipe. Although most recipes that use sweetened condensed milk call for an entire 14 ounce can, I use only half that amount. I use 3 egg whites, not 2 like the recipes that use a full can of condensed milk do.
- The egg whites. In recipes that call for whipping or whisking the egg whites to stiff peaks, incorporate them into the batter gently, by folding the egg whites in batches. The aim is to mix them in without deflating them too much. Have patience when you beat the whites. And stay at the lower end of your electric mixer’s speed range. While a higher speed may whip them more quickly, they will be less stable than if you do it more slowly. I started at speed #2-3 on my stand mixer and never got above speed #6.
- The coconut – Like all Jewish foods, there are infinite variations on macaroons. How your macaroons turn out depends to a large extent on which type of coconut you use. You can find recipes that use sweetened or unsweetened, flaked or shredded, toasted or not, and plenty of combinations. I chose to toast half of my sweetened, shredded coconut. The toasting lends a deeper more concentrated coconut flavor to the macaroons. But that step is totally optional.
- Adding sprinkles – The color in sprinkles has a tendency to bleed. To minimize that bleeding, add them as a last step and do not over mix the batter once you have added them. I used homemade chocolate sprinkles (yes, it was crazy and I’ll probably never make them again) and wildly expensive decorations that included stars as well as straight sprinkles because they were the only colored sprinkle-like topping I could find on short notice. Next time, I’ll plan ahead and order Dutch sprinkles of various types. Sweet alert – they’re delicious for non-Passover snacks and breakfast with bread and butter too!
Macaroons are easy to make. With just a few ingredients and a bit of mixing, you get an impressive result. This version uses sweetened condensed milk and a combination of types of coconut. I like an intense flavor, so I toasted some of my coconut. If you’re pressed for time or don’t care about highlighting the coconut taste, skip that step.
As a confirmed chocoholic, I added chocolate sprinkles to the sprinkle mix and coated the bottom with chocolate. I even drizzled a bit of chocolate on the tops of several. Of course, they would still be delicious without the chocolate. Normally I’m all about being non-judgmental. Still, I consider skipping chocolate in this case to be both foolish and unwise. But hey, they’re your macaroons.
A side note – I went completely crazy and made homemade chocolate sprinkles. Although they taste incredible, the process led to unbelievable kitchen chaos. If you are sane and buy yours, treat yourself to Dutch real chocolate sprinkles. The difference between real chocolate sprinkles and the plastic stuff is considerable.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is a Holi Celebration – Celebrating The Festival of Colors, and our host is Ansh who blogs at Spiceroots.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. The host for the month chooses a theme and members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party. Then you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious fiesta inspired dishes!
- Spiced Mango Drink (Aam Panna) – The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Strawberry Lassi – Shockingly Delicious
- Thandai -Aromatic Almond Milk – Spiceroots
- Colorful Chewy Coconut Macaroons – Mother Would Know (you’re here)
- Strawberry Meringue Cake – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Colorful Passover Coconut Macaroons
These are crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and joyfully colorful throughout.
- 14 ounces sweetened flaked coconut 396 g (See note if your coconut is unsweetened.)
- 5 fluid ounces sweetened condensed milk 1/2 of a can that is 14 ounces by weight or 148 ml. (See note about ounces - fluid vs. ounces by weight.)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (a bit less if you use table salt)
- 3 ounces dark chocolate 87 g
- 1/3-1/2 cup sprinkles or sprinkle-like decorations
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Toast about half of the coconut on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F/180 C for about 8-10 minutes, tossing frequently until light brown. Then mix that half with the untoasted coconut. For a crunchier macaroon, pulse some or all of the coconut in a food processor to chop it and achieve an almost shredded texture.
Mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla together in the large bowl until well combined. Set aside.
Separate the eggs and beat the whites and the salt, preferably in a stand mixer, at low speed. Once they have begun to foam, raise the mixer speed slowly and beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Be patient, as the process may take longer than 10 minutes. Although you can go to a faster speed as the eggs begin to whip, do not go to the maximum speed even though it would hasten the whipping. A slower, steadier process results in stiff peaks that are more stable.
Once the egg whites are in stiff peaks, fold them into the coconut batter in 3-4 batches, as gently as possible. The batter will loosen the more egg whites you add. The goal is to keep the egg whites from deflating while mixing them into the coconut batter.
After the egg whites are fully incorporated, gently fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.
Using a medium-small scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop a clump of the batter onto the cookie sheet. If you want the macaroons to be more regular looking, dip your hands in ice water and gently roll the clump into a ball. After you form all of the macaroons (spaced about 1-2 inches apart), add the remainder of the sprinkles on top, gently pressing them into the macaroons so they do not fall off.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges, rotating the baking sheets front to back and switching them on the shelves in the oven. Cool the macaroons on the baking sheet, then put them on a wire rack.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or slowly in the microwave. (See note about microwaving.) Once the chocolate is completely melted, spread it over the bottom of each macaroon with a knife, then let the chocolate dry by putting the macaroons on their sides. You could dip the macaroon bottoms in the chocolate, but I find that too messy and also it gets a thicker layer of chocolate on the bottom, requiring more than 3 ounces to do a batch. The best knife to use is a small offset knife, which is what professionals and serious bakers use for frosting cakes, but a butter knife works fine. Once the bottoms are dry, if desired, drizzle a few threads of melted chocolate over the top.
Substituting unsweetened coconut for sweetened - If you prefer, or only have access to unsweetened coconut, you can use this technique to sweeten it and substitute it in this recipe.
Fluid ounces vs. ounces by weight - The 14 ounces listed on the can of sweetened condensed milk is a measure of weight. It does not equate to 14 fluid ounces, which is a volume measurement. There are about 10 fluid ounces in a can of sweetened condensed milk, so this recipe calls for half a can.