Holiday Traditions Included Mom’s Coconut Macaroons Recipe

A reader shares childhood memories of baking homemade Christmas cookies with her mom in a wood-burning stove, including this Coconut Macaroons Recipe.

Appeared in November/December 2014 issue of GRIT

  • Coconut macaroons in an open container.
    Photo by Tobias Arhelger

Holiday Traditions Included Mom’s Homemade Cookies

One of my family’s homemade holiday traditions stands out in my memory. It usually took place a couple of weeks before Christmas.

On this day, when I came home from school and was about halfway up the stairs to our apartment, I would catch a whiff of Mom’s delicious homemade cookies baking. I’d rush up the last few steps, yank open the apartment door, run down the hallway, and practically slide into the kitchen.

I could tell right away that Mom had been at it for a while. A large platter of sugar cookies sat cooling next to the sink. Two cookie sheets filled with cinnamon stars sat on one end of the table, waiting to be baked, and Mom would say she had two more cookie sheets with macaroon cookies in the oven.

I never questioned how Mom managed to make such great cookies in a wood-burning stove, because for us, that was all we knew. Not only were my mom’s cookies traditional — she pretty much baked the same ones every year — but they were tasty as well.

I knew these would not be the only cookies Mom planned to bake, and I was eager to help. I especially looked forward to decorating the Christmas sugar cookies. Excitedly, I would hurry to my room, shake my coat off, and change out of my school clothes. Then, ready as ready could be, I would bound back into the kitchen.

Mom, however, always put a damper on my enthusiasm. “As soon as Dad gets home, we’ll eat,” she would say, pointing a flour-covered finger at a pot of stew simmering on top of the stove. “Then we’ll bake a few more cookies after we’ve eaten, and then we can do all the dishes together.” Even the thought of the dishes didn’t keep me from looking forward to baking more cookies, though.

When we were finally finished with the meal, Mom would hand Dad a couple of cookies and give him a small, gentle push toward his study, where he would grade papers while Mom and I continued baking cookies.

Once the sugar cookies were completely cool, Mom and I would decorate them beautifully with red, green and white icing. Of course, she always did a much neater job than I did since she had more experience.

While we got the dough ready for another batch, I would sometimes sneak a small bite of the raw cookie dough into my mouth because it tasted so good. Mom, however, would say it wasn’t good for me, so she’d give me a couple of baked cookies to satisfy me. The rest of the cookies were put up to be enjoyed during our holiday festivities.

My mom’s recipe for Macaroons is below. I hope you enjoy it.

Coffeyville, Kansas

Coconut Macaroons


• 4 egg whites
• 1 cup Baker’s sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 knife-tip cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 package (7 ounces) coconut


1. Preheat oven to 300 F.

2. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. (They have to be stiff enough for the cut of a knife to remain visible.) Beat into this slowly, by the tablespoon, the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and almond extract. Lift the coconut gently into the mixture.

3. Drop mixture, using two teaspoons, onto a greased baking sheet, which should be placed onto the top or second rack of the oven.

4. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes.

Looking for more ideas? Check out Homemade Gifts for the Holidays.

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