During my time in college I roomed with a gal who was Jewish. We became close friends and continued rooming together throughout our four years. This resulted in many visits to her home, and time spent with her parents and sisters. As a result I felt that I became one of the family, learning about Jewish Holidays and food traditions. I have participated in the Seder meal for Passover and become acquainted with the traditional foods that are eaten during this time and the need for unleavened breads and baked goods.
One of the popular desserts served at this meal is macaroon cookies. I have a strong affinity for these cookies, and I always stop to admire them whenever I pass a Jewish Deli or bakery. Jewish baking has tremendous significance, and the ingredients and shapes are directly tied to specific holidays when they are prepared. For Passover, observant Jews eat unleavened foods to commemorate their ancestors’ hurried departure from Egypt. These macaroons are flourless and get their texture from egg whites, making them the ideal cookie for the holiday.
The basic macaroon, while certainly enjoyable without anything added, can be “dressed up” with additions and minor changes to its shape. What I’ve included here are several ways to embellish these sweet, delectable cookies if you should choose to do so. They are very easy to make, and I’m sure you will enjoy them with or without the extras. The cookies pictured in my photos are the chocolate pistachio variety.
Yield: Makes about 30 macaroons
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 (14-ounce) package shredded, sweetened coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 325*F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites till foamy, add the sugar, salt and vanilla mixing well. Fold in the coconut.
2. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the coconut mixture about 1-inch apart onto the baking sheet. Using your fingers (dampened) to form into pyramids.
Bake until golden brown around the edges, 20 – 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
1. Chocolate Pistachio: Substitute 1/4 tsp. almond extract for the vanilla and stir in 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries before adding the coconut. Bake as directed and cool. Melt some semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth. Dip the tops of the macaroons into the chocolate, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and chill until set.
2. Cocoa-Cinnamon: Whisk 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon grated orange zest into the egg white mixture before adding the coconut.
3. Run-Raisin: Stir 1/4 cup dark rum and 1/3 cup raisins into the egg white mixture before adding the coconut.
4. Raspberry Thumbprints: Scoop the macaroon mixture onto the baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Make an indentation in each cookie using the back of a teaspoon, or a cork; fill with 1/4 tsp. raspberry jam, then continue baking until golden brown around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes more.
SOURCE: FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE