Coconut and lime are a classic flavor pairing and this tropical blend has even been immortalized in Harry Nilsson’s classic Caribbean groove, "Coconut," in which he rhythmically entrances us with the lyrics, “Put the lime in the coconut and you’ll feel better.”

While the meaning of Nilsson’s song is rather elusive — at one point, a doctor is called in response to a bellyache caused by drinking a coconut-lime concoction, and he responds by advising his patient to drink even more of said concoction — I have to concur that anytime I put the lime in the coconut, I do feel better.

Especially when it comes in the form of a Coconut Lime Macaroon cookie. Not to be confused with the similarly named French macaron cookie, which is a sandwich-style confection made from almond flour, macaroons consist almost entirely of wonderful, chewy coconut. As a baker and coconut lover, macaroons will forever reign as one of my all-time favorite cookies to bake, serve and eat.

I appreciate how their elegant construction belies their simplicity — these cookies are big on wow factor and ridiculously easy to make. In fact, my basic macaroon recipe is made with just five basic ingredients: shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and egg whites.

Once combined, these humble ingredients are transformed into sweet little mounds of coconut perfection — golden brown and toasty on the outside, with a chewy, creamy white center. These cookies will make coconut lovers positively swoon with delight, and as a baker there is no response more gratifying.

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Lime zest is mixed with coconut for Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Lime zest is mixed with coconut for Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

To give these classic cookies a tropical twist, I’ve added both the juice and zest of fresh limes, as well as a splash of coconut-flavored rum for an extra boost of Caribbean flair. I use a Microplane tool to finely grate the lime peel into zest, being careful to avoid removing any of the bitter, white pith, and then use my hands to mix the shredded coconut with the lime zest to ensure that every bite is infused with lime.

Next, I stir in one can of sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, rum (if using) and freshly squeezed lime juice. Then, I use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment to whip two egg whites with a bit of salt on high, just until they are firm enough to hold their peaks without drooping, and gently fold the meringue into the coconut-lime mixture until blended.

Meringue must be firm before mixing. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Meringue must be firm before mixing. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Macaroons are a drop cookie, and you can easily use two spoons to drop mounds of the batter onto the baking sheet. However, I prefer to use a small, 1-inch scoop to ensure that each cookie is uniform in size and just big enough for about two bites.

Vanilla almond bark with lime zest adds a nice touch to Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Vanilla almond bark with lime zest adds a nice touch to Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

For a final flourish, once the baked cookies have cooled, I dip the bottoms of each macaroon in a mixture of melted almond bark and lime zest. Almond bark melts easily and hardens better than white chocolate and can even be remelted if working in batches.

If you’re looking for a special way to dazzle your coconut-loving mom/grandma/self this Mother’s Day, these Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons are just what the doctor ordered.

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Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons

Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons are scooped onto parchment paper. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Easy Coconut Lime Macaroons are scooped onto parchment paper. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Makes: 50-60 small cookies (1-inch scoop) or about 30 large cookies (2-inch scoop)

Ingredients:

14-ounces shredded coconut

1 tablespoon lime zest

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 tablespoon coconut rum (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 egg whites

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the coconut with 1 tablespoon of lime zest until fully incorporated. Add the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice , rum (optional) and vanilla extract and stir until combined; set aside.

Use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they form medium-firm peaks, about 2 minutes. The whites should be firm enough to cling to the whisk and bowl without drooping.

Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture until well-combined.

For small cookies, use a 1-inch scoop to drop the batter onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on the tray for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Add frosting once the cookies have completely cooled.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • The batter can be refrigerated between batches to keep the liquid from separating.
  • To make vanilla macaroons, omit the lime and rum.
  • To make chocolate macaroons, omit the lime and rum and, and add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the coconut mixture before folding in the egg whites.

Optional Frosting

Ingredients:

8 ounces (4 bars) vanilla almond bark

1 tablespoon lime zest

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.

Place the bars of almond bark in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until fully melted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the melted bark to a small, heatproof bowl and stir in the lime zest until blended.

Dip the bottom of each cookie into the melted bark and swirl it around to coat about 1/8-inch up the sides. Scrape the bottom of the cookie along the edge of the bowl to smooth the surface and place on the wax paper to sit at room temperature until hardened, about 20 to 30 minutes.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.