Most people have only come across Coconut Macaroons in the cookie section of the grocery store. If you're very lucky you've had the real thing in a bakery. But few people seem to make their own. Yet, they're a delicious and easy cookie with a wonderful history. "Macaroon" involves a torturous etymology involving the color of pasta maccarone in Italian.
We tend to think of such things as quite modern. However, there is a recipe for "Cocoa Nut Puffs" (not to be confused with a certain cereal) that dates from 1770 in a Charleston, SC cookbook. It was an adaptation by Harriet Pinckney Horry of her mother's recipe for a "Cocoa Nut Torte."
Mrs. Horry's recipe calls for a "Cocoa Nut" to be "dried well before the fire" then grated and a "spoonfull of butter" and "sugar to your taste" along with six eggs and "half the whites with 2 spoonfulls of rosewater" then all mixed up and "beat well" before being put in the oven.
Perhaps the good Mrs. Horry was a little light on the particulars in her recipe, but have no fear, plenty of folks have adapted these ancient recipes for modern use. In fact, here's an adaptation I found some years ago in Charleston, SC. Interestingly, it also calls for "dried coconut" as did Mrs. Horry's recipe. That's easy enough to accomplish by setting your oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the shredded coconut on a baking sheet evenly and set in the oven for 25 minutes. Toss once every 5 minutes and make sure not to let the coconut toast or brown! Alternatively, move to AZ and leave it by the window for an hour (never tried it, but everything else out here dries in 5 minutes... including my hair!)
3 cups grated (shredded) coconut (dried)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large egg whites beaten until foamy
Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. (I always use a silicone sheet anymore or grease parchment paper). Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix coconut and sugar together well then mix in egg whites. Scoop mixture with a tablespoon. Using your hands press the mixture into the spoon to make it hold together nicely. Place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the macaroons are just brown. Place on a rack to cool and put in airtight container. These little cookies do not keep very long, so do NOT make ahead of time if you are using them for entertaining.