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Holiday cookies: Day 7 — Mexican spiced macaroons

Don’t be afraid of the cayenne in these macaroons. These cookies are moist, rich and chewy, with just a hint of warmth.

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MEXICAN SPICED MACAROONS

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Makes 36 macaroons

14-ounce package sweetened coconut flakes

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 egg whites

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the flour, salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and the cayenne.

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15-second bursts, stirring between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.

Add the vanilla and egg whites to the coconut mixture. Use your hands to mix together until all the coconut mixture is moistened. Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.

Drop by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. A small cookie or ice cream scoop works well if you want very round balls. Alternatively, you can shape them with your fingers. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon-sugar blend.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges start to toast and the cookies feel somewhat firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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