unarrested development – lemon ‘mac’ cookies

by hungryrabbit on April 11, 2014

Lemon ‘Mac' Cookies

Macaroons have long been a staple at the Passover table—confections made with shredded coconut and usually egg whites and sugar, baked to a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft chewy center. I think they are one of the most under-rated cookies around because they are too many versions that are overly sweet and sticky.

Macaroons are like your cousin with whom you grew up. You don’t have much in common but always manage to get along. You see each other only at family gatherings during the holidays.

These Lemon ‘Mac’ Cookies are like that cousin who has suddenly grown up. The buttery cookie base offsets the yielding texture of the macaroon, while the tartness of the curd evens out the sweetness from the chewy coconut. Now, that little kid has something unique to say.


Lemon ‘Mac’ Cookies

yield: 36 cookies

Lemon Macaroons


5 cups (11-11/4 ounces) unsweetened shredded coconut
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest, freshly grated
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375℉. Line 2 baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.

2. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Place one sheet of macaroons in oven and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. (Rotate tray front to back half way through baking). Transfer the baking sheet to rack and let the macaroons cool completely. Repeat with the 2nd sheet of macaroons.

Lemon Curd Filling


1/4 teaspoon gelatin powder
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 2 lemons
6 tablespoons (2-5/8 ounces) granulated sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, cold


1. Dissolve gelatin in 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a small bowl, set aside. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in 2-cup glass measuring cup. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan.

2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in cold butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into non-reactive bowl. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 1 hour.

Lemon Sablés

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated


1 large egg, hard boiled (for perfect hard-boiled egg)
10 tablespoons (5 ounces/1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (2-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons lemon zest, freshly grated
1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour


1. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; discard white. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl.

2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with rubber spatula as needed. Turn mixer to low, add vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Stop mixer; add flour and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.

3. Pat dough into a 6-inch disk, about 1 inch thick, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

4. Adjust oven to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on floured work surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2-inch fluted cookie cutter, cut out 36-40 cookies and place on prepared baking sheets, about 1-inch apart.

5. Bake one sheet at a time (refrigerate or freeze the 2nd sheet) until centers of cookies are pale golden brown with edges slightly darker than centers, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


1. Spread 1 teaspoon of lemon filling on a cookie and top with a lemon macaroon. Repeat with remaining cookies. Cookies can be refrigerated between wax paper in airtight container for up to 1 week.


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

kita April 11, 2014 at 8:25 am

We never had macaroons growing up. I hadn’t discovered them until baking curiosity got the best of me. I am struggling with them but this recipe looks too perfect not to try! I love that lemon coconut combo.

Baby June April 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

Oh my gosh those are so cute! Lemon curd is the best, so I can easily imagine how lovely it would be with coconut. And two cookies in one? Even better. :)

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar April 12, 2014 at 7:43 am

Bah!! These are sooo pretty!! Such a fun recipe!

Jamie April 12, 2014 at 8:20 am

Stunning photos and gorgeous treats, as usual. I know I should expect and be prepared for beauty but I am still always stunned at how talented you are every time I visit. And these cookies. Wowee! I love macaroons, always have, but I love the concept of pairing them with lemon curd.

Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health April 14, 2014 at 11:49 am

this is like two delicious things into one.

Wendy April 18, 2014 at 10:04 am

Now to find a way to pair these macaroons with lemon curd BUT use something other than these lovely sables in order to be able to serve them during Passover! :) Love the flavors and textures here!

hungryrabbit April 18, 2014 at 10:15 am

Hi Wendy, there’s no leavening agent in the sables. Is it something else that makes them not suitable? -K

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