Easy recipe for French coconut macaroons, known best as Rochers Coco. Made with 4 main ingredients: egg whites, desiccated or shredded coconut, sugar and honey, they’re quick to make – and completely different to Parisian macarons (more on that below). Reduced in sugar, this recipe doesn’t contain condensed milk.
Instead, discover the look and taste of the ones we find in French bakeries. Video below.
What’s the Difference Between Macarons and Coconut Macaroons?
Coconut macaroons often get confused with macarons and so this question is one I am asked often!
As author of two macaron recipe books, I already talk about this subject extensively in my article, macarons vs macaroons – what’s the difference?
Basically, coconut macaroons are made with 3 ingredients: egg whites, sugar and coconut.
Conversely, Parisian macarons are made with egg whites, sugar and almond flour/ground almonds. I precise ‘Parisian’ as French macarons have many old-fashioned traditional varieties. The Parisian – or Gerbet variety – has the classic ruffled pied or foot to easily distinguish them from the others. Again, I mention this in detail in my above article.
The ‘o’ and the ‘oo’ often get lost in translation from French to English. One thing that they have in common, however, is that they are both gluten free, as wheat flour is not used in either classic version.
However, just to confuse the saga further, since 1996 in Alsace a bakery makes Le Macaron Coco, or Kokosmàkrenele. It’s basically a coconut macaroon or rocher coco made with cane sugar and coconut, piped into a star shape but called le Macaron de Riquewihr. They also make the ruffled sandwiched Parisian version, calling them Macarons Fins.
For articles, recipes and more on Parisian macarons, see Macaron Talk.
What are They called in French?
Ask for a coconut macaroon in any bakery in France and they’ll think you’re asking for a Parisian macaron. Just watch the reaction on video, when I visit a typical French chocolate shop!
Instead, they are known as Rochers Coco (or Rochers à la Noix de Coco) in French. Previously they were known in France as Congolais, but this is no longer continued or acknowledged for obvious reasons.
Why the name, Rochers and why are they mostly in the shape of a pyramid? Rocher means rock in French and their pyramid shape resembles little rocks.
What are Coconut Macaroons Made Of?
In France, coconut macaroons are made with just unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut, sugar and egg whites.
French pastry chefs add a 4th ingredient: a little apple compote (or apricot) for the pectin to absorb the moisture from the coconut. Instead I use a little runny (Acacia) honey, since it also absorbs moisture in baking. This helps to keep your macaroons moist.
(To discover if yours is real honey, try the quick experiment I explain in my recipe for pork in honey sauce.)
There’s no need to add any more ingredients. Especially as coconut is naturally sweet, there’s no sweetened coconut, vanilla, or sweetened condensed milk added. Add a pinch of salt (fleur de sel, Maldon or Celtic salt) but this is up to you.
Like macarons, these cookies are also gluten free, as there’s no wheat flour used.
The recipe below is based on the one in my 2nd recipe book,
Teatime in Paris: A Walk Through Easy French Pâtisserie Recipes.
How Rochers Coco are Made in France
With huge thanks to Laurent Ehmig at the Boulangerie d’Aigle d’Or in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He took time to explain how he makes his Rochers Coco:
- He makes the mix a day in advance to allow it to completely absorb the coconut’s moisture;
- First, he measures out the egg whites and sugar in a bowl and whisks them over a double boiler (bain-marie) until 40°C using a candy thermometer. Then mixes in shredded coconut and a little homemade apple compote (or apple sauce) that he makes with honey, not sugar;
- Instead of rolling in rounds, he leaves them to chill overnight in large sized silicone pyramid moulds;
- Next day, they’re un-moulded, spaced out on a baking tray and baked in a ventilated oven for about 20 minutes, turning them round half way for even toasting.
Instead, my recipe is a lazy homemade version without the overnight setting time. However, if you have time, leave the mixture to rest longer. Instead of apple compote I use honey, which also absorbs moisture:
- I mix all the ingredients together in a double boiler for a few minutes until the egg whites are well mixed (coagulated) then leave to cool for a few minutes;
- Using slightly humid hands, roll them into even rounds. Alternatively, press into silicone moulds (mini pyramids or mini muffin moulds) although this means they need to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to de-mould more easily.
- As my macaroons are small, I only bake between 10-15 minutes, depending on how toasted golden you prefer them.
Are Coconut Macaroons Chewy or Crunchy?
Like macarons, they are neither chewy or crunchy as such.
As you can guess, the taste is strong in coconut but the first macaroon flavour to hit is the toasted coconut thanks to a slightly crispy exterior. I like mine particularly well toasted, but if you prefer yours lighter, then bake for a few minutes less (keep your eye on them in the oven). The result should still be shiny golden. If you keep them for a few days, however, the exterior crispiness gradually disappears but they remain soft inside.
The inside is deliciously fondant rather than chewy and slightly sweet, although not too sweet.
I like this recipe as it’s lower in sugar than many other recipes. They’re healthier than those with more sugar, sweetened coconut and are made without sweetened condensed milk.
Looking for more coconut bites? Try these mini no-bake bite-sized snowballs, inspired by my Granny’s recipe, also reduced in sugar and packed with dried fruits – they’re vegan too. Dress them up like little Christmas puddings for the festive season or roll them in more coconut.
Troubleshooting Coconut Macaroons
- Why are my macaroons so dry? Personally I haven’t ever had this problem using this recipe, as there is enough liquid in the mixture. By using honey (or apple compote/sauce), which naturally absorbs moisture in baking, your macaroons will remain moist. Also, don’t over- bake. Remove them from the oven as soon as they are golden brown.
- Why do they spread? Again, this has never been a problem using this recipe as the quantities are not too liquid to make them spread. Just follow the recipe instructions below and ensure you weigh out your ingredients exactly using a digital kitchen scale.
- Why are Mine Sticky? It’s normal they are a bit sticky, as macaroons contain sugar, egg whites and honey. If they are too sticky, I’d suggest leaving the mixture to cool completely in the fridge (many French chefs leave the mixture for 24 hours) and rest before baking. Plus bake them a little longer – say, another 3-5 minutes to toast them;
- Any more you’d like me to add? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help.
What Can I Make With the Leftover 2 Egg Yolks?
As egg whites can last for about 5 days in the fridge (and freeze well), make the egg yolk recipes in advance. Use both yolks to make Palets Bretons (salted butter biscuits from Brittany), French rice pudding, savoury lemon sauce or Crème Dubarry (cauliflower cream soup) before making these macaroons.
How Long do They Last?
- Coconut macaroons can keep stored in an airtight container (I like using a metal tin lined with parchment paper) for up to 5 days to enjoy them at their best. They slightly lose their crispiness but remain beautifully fondant inside.
- They don’t need to be refrigerated.
- They also freeze well. Use within 2 months.
- However, any leftover mixture unbaked can be kept covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. Just stir well before ready to bake.
How to Make Coconut Macaroons Like the French
Coming soon! My video how to make them from our local French bakery and in my kitchen.
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- 125 g (4½oz/1½ cups) shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- 90 g (3½oz/½ cup) sugar
- 75 g (3oz) egg whites (from 2 medium organic eggs)
- 10 g (1 level tbsp) runny honey Acacia best
- pinch salt (optional) (fleur de sel, Maldon or Celtic salt)
- Mix together all the ingredients (sugar, coconut, egg whites, honey and salt) until well blended then continue mixing with a spoon over a bain-marie (a double boiler, i.e. a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water) for about 5 minutes until the mixture is completely blended together and the egg whites coagulated.
- Leave the mix to cool on the counter for about 10 minutes. (At this point, many French chefs chill this mixture overnight to make them easier to shape into large moulds but it's not completely necessary with smaller shapes).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/Gas6
- Lightly moisten your hands with a little water and roll the coconut mix into little balls using the palm of your hands. Otherwise use a spoon or small ice cream scoop to shape them into regular mounds. (Alternative shapes: for a French look, shape into pyramids using special silicone shaped moulds - or use an ice tray/mini muffin moulds and shape the top with fingers. Leave to chill for 15-30 minutes in the fridge to push out the shapes directly on the baking tray. Otherwise pipe out using a large star tip.)
- Place them with a space between them on a baking tray covered with either baking paper or a silicone mat (Silpat). Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning the tray around half way through baking to cook more evenly until golden brown (or more according to taste). Leave to cool.
This recipe was first published in my 2nd recipe book, Teatime in Paris in May 2015.