The Vintage Baker gives us a new excuse to use cornflakes in dessert, and we’re not mad about it.
While cooking from The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan, I discovered a new and fun way to reinvent one of my favorite childhood breakfasts—cornflakes. They're the secret ingredient in the book's coconut macaroon recipe—probably the easiest one ever.
I love all kinds of cereal. But cornflakes have a special place in my heart. I have random cravings for them and, more often than not, end up with the large box in my cupboard. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or perhaps it's the simplicity of their flavor after a long day of test kitchen tastings. Either way, my nostalgia runs deep for these sweet little flakes.
So when I came across Jessie Sheehan’s recipe for Cornflake Macaroons in his book The Vintage Baker, I had to bake them right away. And am I glad I did. The macaroons are so easy a kid could make them unsupervised. No sharp knives hanging around, no long list of ingredients, just a fun, get-your-hands-dirty kind of cookie that comes together super fast. In fact, all of Sheehan's desserts—many of which are inspired by vintage recipe pamphlets from the 1920s and 1960s—are as fun and easy as eating cereal for dinner.
So, how easy is easy? This recipe has only eight ingredients (two of them are salt, so really just six ingredients), so it comes together in a snap. All you need is one bowl, a parchment-lined baking sheet, and a Ziploc bag. There’s some light whisking to get egg whites nice and frothy, folding in of cornflakes and sweetened shredded coconut, then a sensory experience of crushing the mixture with your hands— a perfect kid-friendly task.
The recipe calls to chill the mixture in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, but if you’re in a time crunch, like I was when I was expecting friends, I placed it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and the recipe worked wonderfully. The macaroons bake to golden-on-the-bottom perfection. They’re sweet and chewy, and the familiar taste of the cornflakes are front and center. Have I mentioned I'm a big fan?!
Here's how to make these beauties.
Makes 16 cookies
3 egg whites
½ cup [100 g] granulated sugar
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
2½ cups [75 g] cornflakes
1½ cups [120 g] sweetened shredded coconut
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
2 ounces [55 g] semisweet chocolate, melted
1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and continue whisking until thoroughly combined and thickened. Fold the cornflakes and coconut into the egg whites using a rubber spatula. Once combined, and using your hands, crush the cornflakes in the bowl, mixing all of the ingredients together, until they stay together when you squeeze some of the mixture in your hand. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. The mixture will be much easier to scoop once it has been refrigerated. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F [165°C]. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Scoop 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough with a small cookie scoop or measuring spoons, making sure to really pack the batter into the scoop/spoons. Place on the prepared pan and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with the sea salt and let cool.
4. Place the melted chocolate in a zippered plastic bag, cut a very tiny hole in one corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate harden before serving. The macaroons will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days, but they get less crunchy with each day.
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Recipe excerpted from The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan (Chronicle Books 2018). All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Photo credit: Alice Gao