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Scottish Macaroons

A Scottish recipe for a traditional homemade sweet treat with a surprise ingredient. These are a tasty coconut treat covered in chocolate and more coconut.

Scottish macarons on a lined baking tray

Wartime Treats

Scottish macaroons were a popular treat during the second world war.

People were trying to make their rations go further, so a sweet treat that didn't include butter or eggs was always going to be popular.

Sugar, including icing sugar, was rationed, so it did need to be saved.

A sign to make this childhood treat

I was on Facebook when a message popped up from one of my fellow Scottish bloggers, Marie from You'll Have Had Your Tea.

She had just finished baking for her 10-year-old who was doing a school project on World War II.

She had to dress up for school the next day and bring along a wartime treat. They decided to make macaroon bars.

Now I was desperate to make some too.

Macaroon Bars

I've thought about making macaroon bars from time to time but never got around to making any.

Marie gave me a rough idea of the recipe, so I gave it a go and took note of the quantities so I could share them with you. They were so good.

Some of you may be surprised when you discover what the main ingredient is.

Bars or balls?

I shaped my macaroons into balls, but the traditional way to serve macaroons in Scotland is in bars.

Balls are an easy option as they are easier to shape than bars, but do make them which way you would like.

What are Scottish macaroons?

Macaroons are a traditional homebaked sweet (candy). They are coconut-based and very sweet. 

Do not confuse these with french macarons
(mack-a-ron), which are a sweet meringue-based sandwich of two little discs sandwiched with ganache, jam or buttercream.

Do not confuse these with coconut macaroon cookies, which are coconut cookies dipped in chocolate.

Scottish macaroon bars (or in this case balls) are coconut bars with a sweet fondant type melt in your mouth centre, which are completely dipped in chocolate and then coconut.

They are awesome! 

But, don't eat too many at once as they are very sweet.

Scottish Macaroon Snowballs on a pink plate stand standing on a snow covered garden table

The history of Scottish macaroon bars

Scottish macaroon bars were created during the second world war. 

It was a time of food shortages and ration books, where people had to be very frugal with their ingredients and clever to make their rations go a long way.

Creativity was the name of the game.

This recipe is very creative. 

You would never in a hundred years guess the secret ingredient after tasting them.

What is the secret ingredient in Scottish macaroons?

The secret ingredient is MASHED POTATO.

Yes, you heard me right, mashed potato. 

You would never know it when you taste them.

They taste like a sweet coconut fondant.

These bars were made in homes across the land during the war and also commercially made by the confectioners' Lees.

You can still find these homemade bars sold along with bars of tablet beside the till at many a corner shop or newsagent in Scotland.

chocolate oreo tiffin

More easy no-bake recipes

Here are a few more easy no-bake recipes for you to try next.

For more Scottish recipes have a look at my recipe index of Scottish Recipes for Vegans and Vegetarians

Making Scottish Macaroon Snowballs

You can make these Scottish macaroons as bars or balls (full printable recipe below)

The balls are easier to make the first time you make them, but if you are feeling brave, do try making bars.

Making Scottish Macaroon Snowballs Step 1 - making the mixture

Step 1 - Making the macaroon snowballs

Mash your cold boiled potatoes with vanilla extract then add the icing sugar (confectioners sugar) a bit at a time, mixing in with a spatula until you have a thick dough. 

You may need to move from a spatula to a wooden spoon when the mixture gets stiffer.
Once all the icing sugar is folded in, roll the mixture into balls the size of chocolate truffles.

While you are making the dough, toast some coconut on a baking tray in the oven until golden.

Making Scottish Macaroon Snowballs Step 2 - making the snowballs

Step 2 - Coating the macaroon snowballs

Melt dark or milk chocolate in a bain-marie (bowl over simmering water - do not let the base of the bowl touch the water or the chocolate will seize).

Set up a little work area so you can move from dipping into chocolate, then onto dipping into the coconut and a lined tray for the snowballs to set.

I had one bowl with desiccated coconut, one bowl with toasted desiccated coconut and one bowl with a mixture of both.

Making Scottish Macaroon Snowballs Step 3 - The finished snowballs

pin it for later

A simple Scottish recipe for a traditional homemade sweet treat with a surprise ingredient. This coconut based snack is easy to make and kids love them. #scottishmacaroons #macaroons #truffles #scottishrecipes #vegantruffles #coconuttruffles

traditional Scottish recipe, wartime sweet recipe, fridge cake, macaroons, no bake, traybake, coconut, condensed milk
Yield: 32 balls (or 16 bars)
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Scottish Macaroons

Scottish Macaroons

A Scottish recipe for a traditional homemade sweet treat with a surprise ingredient. Tasty coconut treats covered in chocolate and more coconut.
Prep time: 30 MinInactive time: 30 MinTotal time: 1 Hour


  • 1 large potato (150g approx), boiled or steamed
  • 500g (4 - 4 ½ cups) icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g (7 oz) good quality dark chocolate
  • 145g (1 ½ cups) desiccated coconut


  1. Mash the potatoes until smooth and then spoon into a large mixing bowl. Leave to cool (this is very important, they need to be cold)
  2. Add the icing sugar a large heaped spoonful at a time, stirring with a spatula. The mixture will be quite wet and gloopy at first, but eventually, it will form a smooth dough. Towards the end, as the dough gets stiffer, it is easier to work with a wooden spoon.
  3. Once your dough is ready (it should be like a firm fondant), wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.
  4. Prepare a couple of baking trays, by covering them in greaseproof paper, then tear off small balls of the macaroon dough and roll into smooth balls (or make into bars). Once you've finished, pop the macaroons in the fridge, while you move on to the next step.
  5. Pour half of your desiccated coconut into an ovenproof dish. I covered my dish with greaseproof paper, so the coconut would be easy to remove.
  6. Toast the coconut under the grill, shaking occasionally until it is golden. Do be careful as it burns easily You can mix some of the toasted coconut with plain coconut, so you end up with three bowls of coconut in varying colours. One plain, one mixed and one toasted. However, it is entirely up to you. The original bars are coated in toasted coconut.
  7. Next, break your chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain-marie (or in the microwave, checking regularly).
  8. Take your macaroon balls out of the fridge and set up a little production line. First, dip your macaroons in melted chocolate, then roll them in coconut before placing them back on the baking tray. I advise a spoon to dip the balls in chocolate and then to drop into the coconut and another to toss in the coconut. Have some kitchen paper at the ready too and baby wipes are very handy at this point.
  9. Once all your macaroons are coated, pop the trays back into the fridge to allow the balls to set.
  10. Enjoy!


For a traditional Scottish macaroon, form them into bars.

I have found the mixture is better if it has some chill time, so pop them in the fridge while you clean up and prepare the coconut and chocolate.

I have not included cook time for the potato as this can be done ahead and will take a very different time, if you boil or steam.

Nutrition Facts



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  1. Perfect recipe for the snowy weather. And boiled potatoes? Now, that is unusual indeed; thanks for sharing Jacqueline :-)

  2. It is one of those wartime recipes where they had to do with what they had and potatoes and carrots featured a lot in sweet recipes. I don't think they added the vanilla though.

  3. I love your blog. I make a variation of this by adding mint to the mixture ( one could add lemon or any other flavoring )and rolling it out between 2 pieces of waxed paper until it is very thin. I melt baking chocolate unsweetened and spread it on 1 side. When it is dry, I flip it and spread chocolate on the other side. I can then cut this in squares or other designs. Here in New England it is simply called Potato Candy, an old time recipe, beloved, but little known. It is always a hit.

  4. Those are great tips Ruth, I am so glad you stopped by. I didn't know the recipe had reached beyond Scotland. Love the idea of mint or lemon :)

  5. Yes I was surprised to find the main ingredient was potato. I have seen recipes for potato candy before so I know it would be delicious.

  6. Hi Val, It is a strange one, but you would never know it was in there :)

  7. Very interesting indeed. Boiled potatoes+chocolate... I should give it a try and see how it goes. Thanks for sharing... the weather getting worst I guess... and this is what we need ;-)

  8. You are quite right - I would never have guessed these had the humble spud in them. They look great, I'm going to have to give this a try and see if anybody can guess the ingredients!

  9. Hi Mummy Nana, I hope you are having better weather than us, it is horrible here.

    No one will guess Chele, you just can't tell :)

  10. yummy yummy! very talented baker you are!

  11. Potatoes? Who wudda thunk it? These look so pretty, you'd never guess there was a potato hiding inside!

  12. I know and they are great. The texture is silky and gorgeous Andrea :)

  13. A potato!!! I wouldn't have guessed in a thousand years!!!

    They look devine - we need a bit of sweetness in this weather (well any excuse actually!!)

  14. I know Brownieville Girl, I am craving something sweet just now, Unfortunately, I have given all the macaroons away. *sigh*

  15. Potatoes? Crazy. Like the look of the macaroon balls.

  16. If you use a red-fleshed potato as I did one year without realizing it, you have a rosy hued version. You can add grated candied ginger too or put it on top of the potato candy or roll the little snowballs in it.

  17. Fab idea, I'll have to give them a shot. Do you know how long they are likely to keep for?

    Thanks, Annie

  18. I call this an awesome, innovative and very unusual treat! Simply love it, and the fact that it is done with potato, makes it more interesting.
    Shall surely make and post it in my site with due credits to you Jacqueline. Lovely post, keep rocking. best wishes.

  19. Try making them TB, I bet your class would love to try them!

    Hey Ruth, Yeah, I was thinking the other day when I was buying sweet potatoes that they would make pretty macaroons.

    Hi Annie, they will keep nicely in the fridge or somewhere cool for a week.

    I am glad you are so taken with them Sanjeeta. I look forward to reading your post :)

  20. beautiful - E loves macaroons so maybe I should try them - I love sweet recipes with potato so this might be fun to make - and great for St Andrews Day

  21. Interesting recipe. I have tried potato cake long time ago, and it was amazing..
    I have some good recipes with chestnuts and dry fruits on my blog

  22. Well I don't know how I managed to miss this one the first time around - potato truffles - very interesting. You didn't actually say how they tasted??

  23. Wow I'm so intrigued by the use of potato!! I've never seen anything like this. They look delicious. :)

  24. My potatos are boiling for it now, little xmas day treats. Was looking for a recipe for macaroons as I knew it and this was the first right one I found so thank you so much x

  25. I am so glad you found my recipe. I do hope you enjoy them x

  26. You forgot to mention, you must chill the potatoes before adding the icing sugar or it will be a soupy mess and a waste of a bag of icing sugar.
    4 1/2 cups icing sugar for 1 large mashed potato ?

    1. Haha, you are so right. I thought it was obvious, but yes, sometimes you have to state the obvious. And yes, it takes up a lot of icing sugar. I measured it out.

  27. Yeah I know, DUH! Lol!
    Not like mom's but close to it and still working on perfecting it, it's sooooo sweeeeeeet.
    thanks Jacqueline !

    1. How do your mom's vary? Yes, they are sweet. I made the changes you suggested.

      Have a good Christmas :)

  28. As a Scot, I certainly remember those macaroon bars, with coconut, chocolate and yes, the potato in there - which I only quite recently discovered - as so many people get macaroon bars, macaroons and macarons mixed up. Just came across your recipe today for these - they are just what I'm looking for! Thank you, thank you. Love the toasted coconut, just like the real McCoy.

    1. People do indeed get them mixed up and they have nothing in common. I hope you enjoy them, but remember how sweet they are and don't eat too many.

  29. Got my Brownie cooking badge for making these around 1970 in Scotland. They are delicious!

    1. You have a great memory. I can't remember what I made on brownies. I remember running about a lot, occasionally camp fires and some songs. That's it. But these are a treat.

  30. Hello. I am doing a project for school and using this recipe. Do you know how many calories this is?

    1. I'll update it for you with my new style recipe card which has calories. Check back later today.


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