Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights? Because There Are Macaroons.
Passover is this weekend, and you all know what that means! Oh yeah, something about being slaves in Egypt. Whatever, I just want to talk about macaroons.
Macaroons are the most underrated dessert. Why do we only eat them on Passover? And why are they always served as a side-dessert, along with those candy “fruit slices,” to accompany a slightly off-tasting cake made with matzah meal? Macaroons are way better than matzah meal cake, and they can stand on their own.
I like Passover; seders at La Casa Olenick are always pretty hilarious—unintentionally, of course. However, I am not a fan of Passover foods—except for those sugary fruit slices that are also, for some reason, only eaten on Passover—but my parents are really strict about what we eat, and when I’m home I follow their rules. Macaroons help me get through those hard times.
In anticipation of Passover, I made three different types of macaroons with my friend. I called it a competition, even though we made everything together. I liked to think of our macaroons competing against each other for our favor, in the style of The Hunger Games, and then they all died in the end because we ate them.
The first macaroon competitor was a strawberry macaroon dipped in melted dark chocolate. It was very tasty, but not the right texture – too mushy, a little soggy.
The recipe we used from Smitten Kitchen actually called for raspberries, which explains the mushiness, because strawberries have more liquid than raspberries.
The second contestant was a chocolate-almond macaroon. This came out a little crispy but was otherwise good. We didn’t add as much sugar, which meant the macaroons weren’t very sweet, but my friend and I preferred them that way.
Our third and final flavor was lemon—very simple but so delicious. It were the perfect blend of sweet and tart, and definitely my favorite of the bunch. I think that lemon and coconut were just meant to be together.
Here is the basic recipe for coconut macaroons from Epicurious.com:
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a baking sheet and line with foil. Lightly butter and flour foil, knocking off excess flour.
Stir together egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until combined, then stir in coconut. Drop 16 tablespoon-size mounds about one and a half inches apart onto baking sheet.
Bake until tops are pale golden in spots—15 to 20 minutes—then carefully lift foil with cookies from baking sheet and transfer to a rack to cool completely— about 10 minutes. Peel macaroons from foil to serve.
Lemon—add one teaspoon (at least!) of finely grated lemon zest to the mixture
Chocolate almond—add a half cup of cocoa powder, a half cup of chopped almonds, and maybe some more sugar, depending on whether you have a sweet tooth
Strawberry/Raspberry—put fresh berries into blender or food processor before adding to coconut mixture. To make a chocolate coating, melt semisweet chocolate in double-boiler pan until smooth. Dunk cooled macaroons into melted chocolate, then put into the fridge to solidify.