April 24, 2008
I mentioned the delicious menu from Saturday night’s Seder, but I didn’t mention the fact that, over dinner, Kevin’s sister Abby voiced a special request. She asked me to post a Passover-friendly dessert recipe this week. She and her roommates (she’s about to graduate from the University of Wisconsin) have apparently been on something of a baking streak. I, of course, was all too happy to grant the request.
And, well that was Saturday night. And it’s now more than half-a-Passover later. It’s not that I didn’t want to post this recipe sooner. But when I started looking for recipes, I became truly paralyzed. It’s as though every baked good imaginable has been reinvented with Passover in mind. As someone who’s fairly new to Passover, I was bewildered by the array of choices. Would I do a flourless chocolate cake? The omnipresent matzo crunch? A recipe from the back of a Maischewitz box? I eventually made up my mind and, while Passover is certainly waning at this point, I’m hoping that Abby & Co are still in search of a baking project.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipe.)
My eventual selection was all about keeping it basic. And, as I understand it, macaroons are about as basic a Passover dessert as there is. I confirmed this with my resident Passover expert, who relayed to me a long and not-so-pleasant history with macaroons that came from a can. Yes, you read that right: a can. Apparently, he’d since sworn them off. Sure that I could lure Kevin back to macaroon munching (I’ve never been short on confidence), my mind was made up: I was going to make macaroons and Kevin was going to love them.
And, aside from the ridiculously high-pitched squeal of my stand mixer that whirred away for five minutes that felt like five years, these macaroons are a snap to make. Before you know it, you’ll have gone from a sad bowl of egg whites to a billowing, glossy, vanilla-bean-speckled cloud. And is if this weren’t all angelicly white enough for you, you’ll then fold in flaky coconuts and ground, blanched almonds—both of which will give the mixture an incredible amount of body.
Next, scoop them onto silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them until they are puffed and ever-so-slightly golden at the edges. Then, invite your macaroon-averse husband into the kitchen and invite him to try one. He’ll marvel and claim that they are “85 million times better than the ones from the can” and you’ll beam with pride. Then (because, why stop why you’re ahead?), melt some bittersweet chocolate and drizzle it over the gorgeous pillows.
Better late then never, right Abby? At least I hope so!
5 large egg whites
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 cups long-shred unsweetened coconut (about 6 ounces), lightly toasted
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted, cooled, ground
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 275°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place egg whites in large bowl; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until meringue is very thick (similar to marshmallow creme), about 5 minutes. Fold in coconut, then almonds. Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing mounds 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake macaroons until pale beige outside and dry-looking (insides will still be soft), about 25 minutes.* Transfer baking sheets to racks; cool macaroons completely. Transfer macaroons to work surface; re-line pans with clean parchment.
Place chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water. Stir chocolate until smooth; remove from over water. Dip bottom of 1 macaroon into melted chocolate to depth of 1/4 inch.** Place on prepared sheet, chocolate side down. Repeat dipping with remaining macaroons. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated. Let macaroons stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)
* I, like many of the Epicurious reviewers, had to bake these for 35 minutes.
** Instead of dipping in chocolate, I drizzled the melted chocolate atop the macaroons.