Crispy on the edges, soft and chewy on the inside, these coconut macaroons are a texture lover's dream.
Preheat oven to 325º and position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine coconut, condensed milk (see notes), vanilla, and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix well with a silicone spatula until all of the the coconut is evenly coated. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a separate deep bowl and an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar. Start on medium speed and gradually increase to high speed, until firm peaks form. Carefully fold whipped egg whites into coconut mixture.
Scoop heaping tablespoon-sized mounds of the mixture onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Use a mini ice cream scoop (#40 or #50 disher is perfect) or two dinner spoons to scoop and shape.
Bake for 12 minutes then rotate pans from top to bottom, front to back, and return to oven. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, checking for color. They are done when golden around the edges and tops. Transfer baking sheets to racks and let cool before serving.
If dipping in chocolate, line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Dip the bottom of each macaroon in melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl and place on prepared baking sheet. (See notes if you need instructions for melting chocolate.) Place chocolate dipped macaroons in the refrigerator until chocolate sets.
-Macaroons will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.
-Sweetened condensed milk:
I recommend making the recipe as written the first time, using the full 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. If you find the mixture is too liquidy or that the macaroons are spreading too much during baking, you can cut it by a couple of tablespoons the next time. Find your sweet spot. I've gotten by using as little as 3/4 cup which is just enough to barely coat all of the coconut and it will add some richness and a hint of crispy chewy contrast. For maximum sticky sweet chewiness, the more the better.
-Tips for whipping egg whites:
Bring the eggs to room temperature before whipping. Set them out about 30 minutes ahead of time.
Make sure your bowl and whisk or beaters are super clean and free of any grease or residue.
Take care when separating the eggs and avoid getting any yolk in the whites.
Whip egg whites in a deep bowl (glass or metal is preferred to plastic) on medium and then high speed. Many macaroon recipes call for whipping the egg whites with salt but after some research and experimenting, I got a better result with cream of tartar. If you don't have cream of tartar, omit the pinch of salt from the coconut mixture and substitute 1/4 teaspoon salt for the cream of tartar in the egg whites.
Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Firm peaks stand straight up when the beaters are lifted. If the peaks collapse over, keep going but be careful not to over-beat.
Place finely chopped chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until only a few small pieces of chocolate remain. Continue stirring until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted. (Be careful not to scorch the chocolate!)
***If you have a severe gluten allergy or sensitivity or otherwise are serious about eliminating gluten from your diet, always check your labels carefully and buy certified gluten free products.