As Cohen mentions in the film, there are a lot of bad coconut macaroons out there. I'd personally had enough mediocre ones that I'd stopped seeking them out. His were great, though, and after the film festival I was motivated to try making my own.
Since we didn't have the ingredients for the Cook's Illustrated recipe on hand, we went with the first one—which turned out nicely, producing macaroons that were better than most we'd tried before (which really isn't saying that much, with the exception of the ones I'd had recently). They disappeared quickly, and a couple days later, after a trip to both the grocery store and Whole Foods to track down all the required ingredients, we made a batch of the Cook's Illustrated macaroons. We were skeptical that it would be worth the extra work, but they were a definite improvement on the first batch, with a better texture and stronger coconut flavor. That knowledge in hand, I proceeded to forget about coconut macaroons entirely.
Whether they're better than the Cook's Illustrated recipe, I don't know. But I'm not sure it matters.
Danny Macaroons' chocolate-stout macaroons
This has become one of my favorite macaroon recipes. I had the idea for it while I was in Hawaii drinking a Coconut Porter from the Maui Brewing Company. It was such a great beer with so much complexity that I thought a macaroon based on it would be fantastic. And it is. I absolutely love how the bitterness of the stout balances some of the macaroon's sweetness and how the chocolate rounds out the party.
Yield: 24 two-inch macaroons
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 12-ounce or 16-ounce bottle of your favorite stout (mine is Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, but if you don't have a favorite, Guinness will do), reduced to about 2 ounces (see note)
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 ounce of chocolate, melted
One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. In an extra-large bowl, measure out 10 1⁄2 ounces by weight of the condensed milk. If you don't have a scale, use approximately 8 ounces (1 cup) by liquid measure. Add the stout, vanilla, and melted chocolate and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Add the coconut to the condensed milk mixture and combine until thoroughly mixed.
3. Add the egg whites and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (or small bowl if you're using a hand beater) and whip on medium-high until very stiff peaks form, 2 1⁄2 to 3 minutes.
4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. After it's combined, push the mixture into one big blob to make it easier for you to portion out the macaroons.
5. Dip 2 spoons into a small bowl of water, shake them off, form the mixture into balls approximately 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter, and place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. (You can also form them by hand, but be sure to wet your fingers frequently.)
6. Place the sheet into the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. After about 22 minutes, start checking for coloring. Look for an even, light golden color and for the undersides to be nicely tanned.
7. Remove from the oven and let the sheet rest on a cooling rack, leaving the macaroons on the sheet until they're cool enough for you to pull off (about 2 minutes depending on how sensitive your fingers are). Transfer the macaroons to the cooling rack to let cool completely. The macaroons will keep at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, for about 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, and for a few months if stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
Note: To reduce the beer, pour into a heavy saucepan and boil until it reduces to 2 to 4 tablespoons. Your goal is to create a syrup from the stout. Be careful at the beginning that the beer doesn't foam over the pot, and keep reducing it until when you tilt the pot, the reduction coats the bottom or when you dip a spoon into it, the beer clings to the spoon like a thin maple syrup. It should be bubbling way more like a tar pit than a pot of liquid by the time you're finished with it.
Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, from The Macaroon Bible by Dan Cohen. Photography by Alice Gao. Copyright 2013.