I made coconut macaroons recently, having seen some in the grocery store and nearly fallen over upon checking their price. They were part of a display of Kosher foods for Passover (macaroons are traditionally served at Passover because they are unleavened; all bread products served at a Seder, or Passover dinner, must be unleavened, in accordance with Jewish beliefs). You may recall (though I've only mentioned it briefly now and then) that I grew up in a multi-faith family. We celebrated both Christian and Jewish holidays, Passover being one of my very favorites.
I loved most Passover foods as a child, including charoset and tzimmes, both of which I only make occasionally in adulthood, but still adore. I also loved coconut macaroon cookies at Passover; my grandmother bought the Manischewitz brand of macaroons in a cardboard canister and those are still my favorites. I like the plain ones as well as the chocolate-dipped, but I think I like the plains ones slightly more. They're very simple, sweet and chewy, and I looked forward to having them for dessert after the Seder every year. I'm also still a total sucker for Manischewitz blackberry wine, which we always had at Seder (I had my own little glass from the time I was about eight years old), but that's another story. That, I always keep on hand in my liquor cabinet; a little goes a very long way but I still think it's delicious.
I don't celebrate Passover now, really, but I do often include the foods in my Easter menu, as a nod to my own childhood traditions. I wanted to make macaroons this year, but didn't have a chance to make them (Easter really snuck up on me this year, being a bit earlier than usual). I still wanted them, though, and decided to make them earlier this month. I used a macaroon recipe from Jenn Segal's gorgeous food blog, Once Upon a Chef. The secret to this recipe is sweetened condensed milk. I had no idea, but it works really well. I used unsweetened coconut, however; it was what I had on hand and I think it tasted really good in the recipe.
5-1/3 cups (one 14-ounce bag) sweetened shredded coconut
7/8 cup (7 fl oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (optional; I used chocolate baking chips)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set two oven racks near the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together the shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Use a large rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Using two spoons, form heaping tablespoons of the mixture into mounds on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden and the bottoms and edges are deeply golden.
If dipping the macaroons in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at medium power, stopping and stirring at 30 second intervals, until just smooth and creamy. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.) Dip the bottoms of the macaroons in the chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, and return to the lined baking sheets. Place the macaroons in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. The cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week.
I really loved these macaroons! They were so easy to make, and really delicious. They were not exactly like the ones in the cardboard canister (why do things taste so good when they come in paper packaging? I personally think milk from a carton tastes better then it does from a plastic jug), but I enjoyed them a lot and I will definitely make them again. I think the extra step of dipping them in melted semi-sweet chocolate is worth it, though they were very good plain too. There's still plenty of time left to try this recipe during the current Passover holiday, but it would be a lovely bake any time of year.
I don't know if I've ever gone a whole week without blogging since I started. It's weird; I feel like I have to do warm-up exercises to get back into it again. I went back and read your replies to my last post, concerning both eczema and children's costumes, and I appreciate everything you said. My eczema is dryness-related, for those inquiring about diet or other reasons. The main issue is that I'm not diligent enough about moisturizing, and by the end of a long season of cold wind, extremely low humidity and forced-air heating, my body is just plain parched. But the good news is that my recent flare-up has subsided and I'm resolved to do a better job with lotion.
As for the costumes, we have figured something out for both roles the LB will play. His teacher said that Redcoats should just wear red t-shirts and blue pants; another student helpfully had tri-corner hats for all three Redcoats to wear. We're still working out the details for his part as Leif Erikson, but I think we have a shirt that will work. As for weapons, as some suggested, those will be a no-go. His school would never allow it, even if they were cardboard or wood. Too contentious today. So we'll stick with basic clothing items and he'll rock it, I'm sure.