In yesterday's vegetarian chat, I promised to offer up a foolish dessert today, just in time for April Fool's Day, which is this Sunday. Alas, I was unable to find rhubarb, a key component of my fool, so stay tuned in the coming weeks when it parades its lovely fuchsia stalks at market.
Instead of a fool, I offer you macaroons, a rather unfoolish treat that resonates for many during Passover as well as Easter.
In "The World of Jewish Desserts," Gil Marks writes that the word macaroon comes from the Italian word, maccarone, which means paste, and that Italian Jews were the ones responsible for introducing this flourless cookie to Ashkenazi Jews in other parts of Europe.
A combination of ground nuts, sugar and egg whites is the formula for a macaroon, with almonds usually representing the nutty quotient. I am still at work on how and when the coconut (which is not a nut) came into the picture, but based on cursory sniffing around, it seems to be a North American phenomenon. If you've got coconut intel, please send it this way.
So today, I pay tribute to the coconut version, and below is just one way to make 'em. Some recipes call for a sugar injection of condensed milk, others suggest a mix of almond paste and coconut or chocolate thrown in for kicks. Below, details from the current issue of New York magazine. Although this version calls for melted butter, I'm unconvinced that the butter is necessary, after all, the beaten egg whites are the "glue". I think it might be worth another go-round without the dairy fat.
To say these are rich is an understatement. Coconut lovers need only apply, please! Wowzee. The optional chocolate chunks offer a much-needed lift from the coco-intense fibrous network, and the two work really well together (this from a long-time fan of the Mounds bar).
If you're short on time this weekend as you make Seder preparations, these guys take less than an hour to prepare, start to finish.
And of course, if you've got a macaroon tip to throw into the circle (coconut or otherwise), please share in the comments area below.
Deborah Snyder's Coconut Macaroons
From the April 2, 2007 edition of New York magazine
3 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons melted butter (KOD note: basically 2 ½ tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
4 medium-large egg whites
Optional: 1 cup chopped chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut, vanilla, butter and half the sugar.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they get foamy and opaque. Add remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream and continue whipping until mixture is pure white and volumized, but just short of holding soft peaks. (KOD note: This should take about 3 minutes.)
Fold whites into the coconut mixture. Add chocolate, if using.
Using a very small ice-cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop batter onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1/2-inch apart.
Bake for about 13-15 minutes (KOD note: it took more like 20 minutes -- 10 minutes on each side in my oven), until lightly browned, turning the tray once during baking. Cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen macaroons.
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