Until the gluten free movement put the flavor back into flourless foods, Passover bakery goods tasted like sawdust. For forever, the only Passover-approved cookie available at the grocery was an almond macaroon. Like a beloved family tradition, those icky sweet orbs have been passed off from one generation to the next as the holiday's go-to sweet. Falling into the ancestral way, I've been serving almond nuggets for over 30 years, until this year, when I experienced a macaroon epiphany.
Ever so sick and tired of the packaged cookie, I turned to my cookbooks for a macaroon review.
A 1913 recipe for a Cocoanut Macaroon called for 1 grated coconut, 1/2 its weight in sugar, and the white of 1 egg. A mixture like a paste was to be worked into balls the size of a nutmeg and baked fifteen to twenty minutes in a slow oven.
While a perusal of recipes from later decades provided a tad more direction, apparent was the macaroon is no newcomer when it comes to the homemade treat scene.
More of a surprise is the simplicity of ingredients that are a modern macaroon.
You'll Need: 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
The Mixing Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Using 2 teaspoons, take generous dips into the mixture and drop onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Don't smooth or compact into neat cookie "balls." Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool, then store airtight to maintain freshness.
Step It Up a Notch: After cooling, dip 1/2 of a macaroon into melted dark chocolate; then place on a parchment covered cookie sheet. To harden the chocolate, set sheet in the freezer or refrigerator. Store airtight.
The resulting cookie is a Passover game changer. Irresistibly yummy, it's impossible to eat just one, so smarten up from the get go and double the output.
It would seem no contest between a delectable macaroon and a macaroon with a shelf life of two years, but not so, according to my tradition-besotted husband.
Each bite of almond, he says, is a sensory memory trigger, taking him back to a time when his parents were alive and as a family, they gathered at the Passover table.
His response gave me pause.
Perhaps when it comes to tradition and our holidays, a tastier macaroon isn't necessarily better.