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6 Times “The Best Friend” Gave Coconut Macaroon Energy

2022-05-27   ◆   6 minutes read

Coconut macaroons don’t get enough love. They’re like that best friend in a movie that’s super interesting, but only exists to live in the main character’s shadow. So much of the information on them is buried beneath the famous and popular French macarons. You’ll even get your text autocorrected if you search for them! Well, that second “o” makes a big difference, and it’s macaroon time now, baby. Today we’re going to jump into the fascinating and mysterious history behind macaroons. And relate each ingredient of the macaroon to an iconic secondary character that needs more love as well. Nothing is too over the top for our coconut friends. Let’s not question this too much, and just dive in.

Coconut Macaroons. Macarons à la noix de coco

Macaro(o)ns History

The history of macaroons and macarons go way back to the 8th century. Because of how long ago this was, a lot of the facts in the story have been lost or left up to rumour. What we do know is that both these desserts originated in Italy, and that their names come from the Italian word “maccarone”. The debate on the origins of “maccarone” is confusing, as nowadays it really just refers to macaroni pasta. An interesting origin is that it comes from another Italian word, “maccare”, meaning ”to pound or crush”.

Macaroons and macarons. Des macarons et des macarons.
Macaroons and Macarons are more similar than they look (Bon Appetit)

What makes the descent from “maccare” interesting is its connection to the most supported macaroon origin theory: that macaroons and macarons (and not to mention macaroni) come from the same crushed almond food. In the early 19th century, macarons were adapted from that food in their travels from Italy to France. And a little while later, macaroons with shredded coconut began appearing in Jewish cookbooks across America. Macaroons and macarons differ significantly with the addition of either shredded coconut or almond flour, but have the same base of egg white and sugar. You could almost say they’re sisters – but not quite that they’re twins. While the difference between these two macaroni desserts has been explored before on Dessert Advisor, it’s satisfying to know that they have similarities beyond their names!

Taking the Nuts out of Coconuts

Most North American macaroons are made with coconut, but there are still some that have almond flour in them. The reason for the dominating coconut love seems to come from the 1930’s. The increasing innovation and efficiency for daily chores gave people time to explore leisure and culture. But it also made it so ingredients were expected to last longer. Coconuts were the perfect replacement at this time for the almond in macaroons. For one, almonds spoil quite quickly, so it was difficult to have them mass produced in a dessert at this time. And for another, the addition of coconut instead of something like a grain or flour, gave macaroons the option of being kosher for Passover. This may be why coconut macaroons are so synonymous with this holiday.

Vintage can of BMCO coconut macaroons. Boîte vintage de macarons à la noix de coco BMCO
A vintage can of mass produced macaroons (Atlas Obscura)

What Makes us Swoon for Macaroons

The ability for macaroons to be adapted to so many diets is such a wonderful aspect to them. They can easily be made gluten free, nut-free, ketogenic, and as mentioned, Kosher. In Judaism, Passover celebrates the Hebrews’ liberation from Egyptian slavery. The absence of leaveners, like flour and baking soda, in the food eaten during this time, represents how quickly they had to escape Egypt, as the bread didn’t have time to rise. There are many traditional meals and desserts for Seder dinner at Passover, but the macaroon has certainly left its unofficial mark through the years. 

Coconut has probably become the most defining characteristic of macaroons. But there have been some variations. There is of course the European macaroon that has crushed almonds still present. Because of the popularity of pistachio French macarons, macaroons with pistachios and coconut are also well-loved. The most popular variation of all has to go to a macaroon partially dipped – or fully immersed – in chocolate. They’re maybe even more popular than the plain one. There are many versions and reasons to love macaroons, and it’s about time they get some of that recognition.

Pistachio Coconut Macaroons drizzled in chocolate. Macarons aux pistaches et noix de coco arrosés de chocolat
Pistachio macaroons with chocolate (Cinnamon and Coriander)

Coconut Macaroon and The Best Friend Trope

Each character is an ingredient in a great story. However, there are some characters that either fully carry their stories, or show up briefly and we instantly need an entire movie about them. Isn’t that the energy of a coconut macaroon? Iconic and distinct on their own, but always getting lost in the shadows. We’re about to get into some excellent supporting characters who need a little attention. While we’re at it, let’s lean in and find out what macaroon ingredient emulates this character’s energy.

  1. Atreyu (The Neverending Story) Mirroring Coconut

The Neverending Story film/book follows Bastien, a 10 year old boy, who lands upon a magical book. When he starts reading the book (which shares the same name) it follows another young hero, Atreyu. For most of the story, both we and Bastien follow Atreyu as he is tasked with stopping The Nothing, a dark force, from engulfing the world. Atreyu is without a doubt the main character of the book within The Neverending Story. But it is Bastien who we are following as the protagonist.

Atreyu and Artax from The Neverending Story
Coconut flakes surrounding coconut macaroons. Flocons de noix de coco entourant les macarons à la noix de coco.
Atreyu and Artax emulating coconut (IMDB)

This is all why we’ve chosen the coconut in macaroons to represent Atreyu in our proverbial macaroon. Atreyu does all the work in The Neverending Story and is the entire reason the audience (and Bastien) get so invested. He really deserved at least to save the day in the end. You cannot have a coconut macaroon without coconut, and you cannot have The Neverending Story without Atreyu.

2. Dionne Davenport (Clueless) as a Symbol of Condensed Milk

Clueless is a coming of age film that created a seemingly timeless cultural phenomenon of clothes and language. One of the most memorable scenes is when the supporting character, Dionne, drives onto the freeway by mistake, and everyone screams their way to the next exit. Part of the reason why Dionne is such a wonderful character is her genuine kindness blended with unabashed honesty. She is inclusive and friendly with new students, but doesn’t let that compromise her opinions or values. Plus, her one liners are iconic.

Dionne Davenport from Clueless
Condensed milk poured into macaroon batter. Lait condensé versé dans la pâte à macarons
Dionne Davenport is as sweet and supportive as condensed milk (The Wrap and add a pinch)

Condensed milk is the perfect ingredient to represent Dionne. It’s the ingredient that not only keeps everything together, it also adds sweetness and flavour. Clueless wouldn’t be the same without Dionne, but she also adds so much more to the film than just a supporting role. 

3. Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings) embodied in Egg Whites

In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee, the hobbit commonly known as Sam, was the protagonist, Frodo Baggins’, employee. He was also the only original member of the Fellowship of the Ring to remain with Frodo to the very end. The amount of times Sam carried the quest on his literal back is absurd. Even Frodo said (upcoming spoiler) that he could not have destroyed the ring without Sam. Throughout the trilogy, Sam’s unwavering loyalty and humility develop his bravery, and he truly becomes a hero by the end of the story.

Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings
Egg beat to stiff peaks in a copper bowl. Œuf battu à des pics fermes dans un bol en cuivre
Sam carrying LOTR on his back, like the egg white he is (Quills and Books and Preppy Kitchen)

Egg whites are reminiscent of Sam because they can be used instead of condensed milk in macaroons to provide structure. They also give the macaroons their light and airy texture. Sam not only keeps Frodo together for the whole series, he does everything he can to lighten the burden his friend is under. Sam is truly the egg whites of Lord of the Rings.

4. Regina George (Mean Girls) Exemplifying Salt

There are many reasons salt is the ingredient that best pairs with Regina George. Mean Girls is another teen film that has aged well with high popularity; and it’s super quotable. Every character contributes to this with at least one line, and all the secondary characters are iconic. Regina is unique on our list as she’s less of a supporting character than she is the film’s antagonist.

Regina George from Mean Girls
Big flakes of salt on coconut macaroons drizzled in chocolate. De gros flocons de sel sur des macarons à la noix de coco arrosés de chocolat.
You go, Glenn Coco…nut macaroons with salt (Buzzfeed and Life, Love, and Sugar)

Although Regina is salty in the hostile definition of the term, she is also salty in other ways. In baking, salt is generally seen as only flavour, but it actually lends to the structural function as well. Regina may seem on the surface to be shallow and ditzy, but she proves time after time that she will fight for what she wants. And perhaps more importantly, much of the plot and structure of the film depends on her; just like salt. Ultimately salt softens any bitter ingredients in dessert to make the sweetness take centre stage. And the storyline Regina puts the protagonist through, develops Cady from naive to a genuinely good and more developed person. She may not mean to, but Regina brings the sweetness out in everyone.

5. Edna Mode (The Incredibles) Manifests Vanilla Qualities

The Incredibles is an animated superhero movie about a family of “supers” going in and out of hiding. All superheroes need suits, and Edna Mode is the fashion designer who creates them. She is a truly unforgettable character of the film partially because of her eccentricities, but it’s also her unfaltering confidence and charisma that make her adorable. She knows she’s the best, she knows everyone knows it, and even that is not good enough to satiate her talents. Edna’s scenes are hilarious and inspiring.

Edna Mode from The Incredibles
Vanilla beans with vanilla blossom on a wooden surface. Gousses de vanille avec fleur de vanille sur une surface en bois.
No one works as hard as Edna… except maybe vanilla (Ranker and Bare Blends)

Vanilla is an excellent ingredient to represent Edna. It is a critical ingredient as part of the coconut macaroons. Vanilla wasn’t always used as a flavouring agent. It was originally coveted in religious practices and medicine. Producing it is extremely difficult, as vanilla only blooms for a few hours. To prevent crop waste, many farms choose to hand pollinate their plants. Same with Edna. She is passionate about the exceptional challenges that superhero costumes present her with. She’s good at what she sees as the flavour of her trade, but she works excessively hard in the shadow of the superheroes, but with deep meaning. 

6. Nobara Kugisaki (Jujutsu kaisen) Represents the Chocolate Addition

Jujutsu kaisen follows a high school student, Yuji, who joins a secret group of sorcerers to end a curse. Nobara is the only woman in this group and she defies stereotypical norms, being a character that is both strong and pretty. Who says you can’t be both? Although she may appear obnoxious at first, she prioritises her friends and loved ones, making sure no harm is at their arms length. As a jujutsu sorcerer, she carries herself with confidence and pride. Fighting off demons isn’t an easy duty, but she is always ready for the next challenge!

Nobara from Jujutsu kaisen
Coconut macaroon being dipped in melted chocolate. Le macaron à la noix de coco trempé dans du chocolat fondu
Nobara makes everything better, just like chocolate (Undercover Otaku and Mountain Berry Eats)

Macaroons originally were made on their own, but chocolate has become an important addition. Being the sole female in her first year class of Jujutsu School in Tokyo, it only makes sense that she is crowned as the added chocolate ingredient.

Pink Macaroons dipped in white chocolate. Macarons roses trempés dans du chocolat blanc.
Pink Macaroons (Dessert for Two)

Are you craving coconut macaroons yet? Maybe you can pick some up, and then watch or read along with your favourite secondary character. Whether they’re the original macaroon, or dipped in chocolate, there’s bound to be macaroons near you to satisfy those cravings. Enjoy your macaroons!

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