I hesitate to use the word healthy to describe anything. It means a lot of different things to different people. And it has meant a lot of different things to me in my short life. I used to think there was no place for healthy desserts. It was probably after the “decadent” fat-free chocolate cake I made in college that made me think so. We all choked that one down. Sadly, it’s still my legacy to some.
I’ve lived through the low-fat, no-fat days. Remember Snackwells? Late high school brought me to the WeightWatcher days of iceberg lettuce and frappaccinos. I used my points creatively. In college, I took up baking exclusively with whole wheat flour. It was around that time that I came to terms with the permanence of my sweet tooth. Soon after, I entered into the purist, full-fat phase. Then the mostly vegetarian phase, which was brought on by reading Mark Bittman and grocery budget cuts.
We’re still nestled into the phase of eating a full fat, whole ingredient, vegetable heavy diet. We eat plenty of dessert due to the aforementioned sweet tooth, mostly in the form of dark chocolate and peanut butter balls. There will always be a place for the occasional slice of cake. But I’ve been on a hunt to expand our, dare I say, healthy dessert options. The kind suited for daily consumption.
I’ve never been a huge macaroon fan. Not to be confused with the french confection, macarons—tiny footed, usually bright, meringues held together by a pastry cream or jam. I’ve never had a problem eating those.
A couple weeks ago, the co-op was sampling macaroons (with two Os). I grabbed a bite at the tail end of my trip. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor when I found myself nestled into the check-out line, too late to go back and grab one.
I scavenged the store next trip. I came up empty in my search to find the original macaroon but instead found a pack of four teeny lemon poppyseed macaroons. I ate two on my walk home, and filed it under healthy dessert research.
10,000 tries later and these tiny little flavor bombs were born. They’re healthy if you ask me. Sweetened with maple syrup. Infused by the oils from plenty of lemon zest. The flavor is full-bodied, not sour. And held together by an egg white whipped into a meringue plus a bit of oat flour. It was the last minute drizzle of white chocolate that sent them over the top. It’s completely optional and completely mandatory.
I tried to get my tiny human to hold one for scale. Her lemon yellow dress was a perfect backdrop. Despite the number of lemon poppyseed macaroons I’ve allowed her to consume over the last couple of days, this is what I got in return. I hope you can use your imagination. These little bombs are just under a tablespoon in size.
A couple notes about the ingredients used in this recipe. It’s important that you use finely shredded coconut to get the consistency right for this recipe. The green bag gives the best results. It has a light flake to it. I’ve linked to it from Amazon, but I consistently find it at Target. I tested several other varieties—from chunks to shredded. I tried processing the coconut in the blender, but the results were too inconsistent and the flake too heavy. Go green. It’s also important that you use lemon extract. When paired with the zest it gives a nice round lemon flavor, not sour, and almost sweet.
- 1 1/4 c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
- zest from 1 large lemon
- 1/4 c. oat flour (see note below)
- 1 1/2 tsp. poppyseeds
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. lemon extract
- 1 egg white
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- Optional Drizzle
- 2 oz. white chocolate bar
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Into a bowl, add coconut. Zest lemon into the bowl. Rub the coconut and lemon zest between your fingers and thumb to release all the oils from the lemon. Add in oat flour, poppyseeds, and salt. Stir to combine. Pour in lemon extract and mix with your hands or a spoon to infuse the coconut again with lemon.
- In another bowl, add in egg white. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until soft peaks form. It will look like a tight foam. Add in maple syrup and beat again until soft peaks form and ribbons hold for a second when you run the mixer back and forth. The mixture will be fluffy and have the color of pale caramel. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together until evenly combined.
- Use a 2 teaspoon spring release scoop to assemble macaroons, being sure to tightly pack each scoop. Release scoop, and carefully mold back into the rounded shape if needed.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a minute on the baking sheet until returning to a cooling rack. If baking larger macaroons, increase baking time.
- Once completely cooled, prepare drizzle. Melt white chocolate, being sure not to let any water come near it. This will cause the chocolate to seize and crumble. Pour melted chocolate into a small ziplock bag, pushing the chocolate to a corner as you would a piping bag. Trim off a tiny corner of the bag and drizzle chocolate over macaroons. Allow to harden before serving. Store macaroons in a single layer container. Barely cover the top. Storing air tight causes the macaroons to soften too much. Best consumed within 3 days.