Q. In July, one of your columns mentioned substituting macaroons for amaretto cookies in a cheesecake crust. The recipe to make the macaroons didn't mention coconut, which I thought was a main ingredient. Should it be added?
While coconut macaroons are most familiar to us in America, the original macaroon was made with almond paste, sugar and egg white.
This macaroon, which originated in Italy, is closely related to meringue. The Italians call them amaretti. Our term for them comes from the Italian “maccarone” because the dough for the pasta we call macaroni is the same color as the almond paste used in the macaroons.
Coconut macaroons are generally made with sweetened dried coconut, a flaky product made by combining dried, shredded coconut with powdered icing. Sweetened dried coconut is very sweet and it keeps up to a year if kept away from moisture, heat and light.
If you want to make coconut macaroons, you can substitute sweetened dried coconut for almond paste in the original recipe, but use twice as much coconut as almond paste by weight, and watch the cookies carefully to make sure they don't burn.
Sweetened dried coconut is available in the international section of most grocery stores, as well as at Asian and Hispanic groceries.
Here are the directions I gave for macaroons: Combine 1 (7.5-ounce) tube of almond paste with 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar in a food processor and process until fine. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and process until incorporated. With the mixer running, add three egg whites and continue processing until the mixture thickens.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag or a gallon resealable bag with one corner snipped off. Pipe out rough 2 1/2-inch circles onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees until done, about 20 minutes.