It seems obvious that coconut macaroons should taste first and foremost of coconut. But too often their aching sweetness obliterates any other flavors. One bad experience with a cloying macaroon has led many people to write them off entirely, and that's a shame. Macaroons done right are delicious—light, sticky, and full of tropical coconut flavor.
My go-to recipe for coconut macaroons is from Cook's Illustrated. While it's not particularly complicated, it does involve three different kinds of coconut (sweetened, unsweetened, and cream of coconut). I was curious to see how a streamlined boxed mix for macaroons would fare. Canterbury Naturals Coconut Macaroon Mix requires no other additions except hot water. In case you're wondering, the mix is all natural, and the primary ingredients are sugar, dried coconut, dried egg whites, and flour.
To prepare the macaroons, I simply combined the mix with exactly 1/4 cup plus one teaspoon of hot water and let it stand for five minutes. Then I dropped it by heaping teaspoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. After 15 minutes in the oven, the macaroons had lacy golden edges and burnished, golden brown points. By all appearances, they were textbook-perfect.
What I liked best about these macaroons was that they weren't overly sweet. Don't get me wrong, macaroons are always pretty sugary, but these stopped far short of tooth aching.
I also loved their texture: crispy on the bottom, soft and moist in the center, with little tufts of crunchy coconut flakes on top. Unfortunately I did find the coconut flavor a little dull and muted. I missed the nutty, tropical burst of flavor that comes from homemade macaroons. This mix is incredibly quick and easy, and the results are solid, if not spectacular. I would definitely recommend it as a simple garnish for ice cream sundaes, or as part of a larger cookie smorgasbord.