Light and fluffy coconut macaroons, studded with candied fruit and enrobed in white chocolate.
French-style coconut macaroons (congolais) are made with just coconut, sugar and egg whites and flavoured with a touch of lemon zest, and are much lighter than their condensed milk counterparts. With candied fruit added to them, they are an extra delicious treat. Covered in white chocolate, they are an indulgent holiday favour!
Makes about 36
Preparation time: about 4 hours, most of which is inactive
150g (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar
200g (2 cups) desiccated coconut
100g (3/4 cup) finely diced candied fruit (reserve enough pieces for decorating)
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
100g (3 large or 4 small) egg whites
You need to use desiccated, finely grated coconut for the macaroons, because the long strands of shredded coconut won’t shape as well. If you can only get shredded coconut, try pulsing it a couple of times in the food processor, but be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up with flour.
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the sugar, coconut, lemon zest and candied fruit. I use my hands, so that I can be sure the lemon zest and candied fruit don’t clump.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks.
Gently fold the egg whites into the dry ingredients with a spatula until just incorporated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2 (bottom-only heat, if possible, to prevent them browning on top) with the shelf in the middle position, and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Gently press the mixture into walnut-sized balls. This part is messy and can be frustrating if they don’t hold together, but persevere gently or you’ll crush all the air from the mix.
Place on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Cool completely on the sheet – they will be too delicate to handle while hot.
White chocolate coating
300g (10 ounces) white couverture chocolate (or candy melts)
* If you’re using candy melts, there’s no need to seed, so you can melt it all at once.
* If you’re melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water, or the chocolate may scorch.
* Do not get any water in the chocolate – just a drop with make it seize beyond repair. The bottom of the bowl or double boiler will be wet with condensation, so I recommend laying out a kitchen towel on the work bench to put it on, so you don’t end up with a puddle.
Using a double boiler, or a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or a microwave on medium power in 20 second increments, melt about 2/3 of the couverture. Remove from heat and add the remaining couverture by handfuls, stirring gently until completely melted by the residual heat of the melted couverture, and it reaches body temperature.
Using two forks to hold and manipulate them (without stabbing them), gently roll the macaroons one at a time in the melted couverture to coat completely, shake off the excess, then put them on a sheet of wax paper, top with a piece of candied fruit, then allow to set completely. If you live in a very hot or humid climate, you might need to pop them in the fridge for a few minutes to set.
If the couverture cools and thickens too much while you’re working, reheat it gently back to body temperature.
If they have large feet, you can trim them with a paring knife.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, separated by layers of parchment if not wrapped.