Passover: Matzoh, Memories and Macaroons
Growing up, there were quite a few things on my “don’t like” list, and several have been revealed here on the blog: lemon or lime, raw onions and anything spicy (the latter still holds true today). Coconut was also on that list, yet is one of the ingredients that was omnipresent throughout my childhood.
Once a year, there were cake stands piled high with coconut macaroons on my grandparents’ Seder table at the Jewish holiday of Passover. Chewy shredded coconut with sugar and egg whites, baked until browned on the edges, round or irregular shaped, some plain, others dipped in chocolate. Those mounds were there every year. As far as I was concerned, they were as essential to the holiday as the other elements of the traditional Seder plate.
That said, I could not actually tell you who ate them. My sister simply picked the chocolate off of them, my mom went for the chocolate covered matzoh, and my dad went straight for the halvah… and anything else covered in chocolate too. For me, I had one little hand on the ice cream scoop, and the other in the candy dishes full of colorfully speckled nonpareils, mint lentils, Joyva marshmallow twists and honey sesame crunch. My tastes have matured since then [giggle], and my go-to Passover dessert is now my matzoh buttercrunch ice cream sundae.
I’m still not a big coconut fan, yet after trying some pretty spectacular macaroons over the past few years (and no, I don’t mean Parisian macarons!), including from NYC’s City Bakery and even Whole Foods, as well as discovering the very Australian confection coconut ice, I had the urge to make my own macaroons this year (recipe below). They also just looked too perfect on Mélanger, and a world away from Manischewitz macaroons in a can! I actually commented on Mélanger‘s blog post last year saying I wanted to make them this year. Voilà, I stuck to my word! And you can bet that this year, I was paying way more attention to who actually ate them!
Verdict: everyone! They were a huge hit, and I am now an official lover of coconut macaroons. So light, with a moist interior and just enough crunch to the exterior, an excellent play on texture. And… a perk for the baker too. Don’t worry about being too neat shaping the mounds with the batter. Scoop up the little bits of coconut that will have baked to a crisp and you’ve got yourself a deliciously sweet topping for yet another Passover ice cream sundae.
For those of you who celebrate Passover, what was on your Seder tables? Any traditional foods that show up every year? A happy holiday to all, and be sure to share your Passover dessert ideas here!
Passover lasts 8 days, so here are a few more recipes to enjoy throughout the week:
Mocha matzoh buttercrunch and ice cream sundaes
Dried fig & pistachio nougat (simply omit the cornstarch used for coating nougat to keep kosher for Passover)
Chocolate Chunk Coconut Macaroons
(adapted from recipe by Martha Stewart, as seen on Mélanger)
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups (250 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine sugar, shredded coconut, egg whites, chocolate chunks, vanilla, and salt. Start mixing with a wooden spoon, and then using your hands, make sure all ingredients are well blended.
Moisten hands with cold water. Scoop up small amounts of batter and lightly squeeze to form a ball. Place on baking sheet and use your fingers to pinch into desired shape (hay stack, pyramid, rock, etc.).
Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown on the edges and the bottoms have a crisp, colored crust. Let macaroons cool slightly on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack. Bake for a few more minutes if you like them real crispy on the outside. And be sure not to throw away those coconut crumbs!