You would think that with all the dietary restrictions set forth for Passover, it would be tough to create delicious treats for the holiday. But us Jews are nothing if not resourceful and over the centuries Jewish bakers, chefs and Bubbes around the globe have created delectable delicacies for the Passover holiday that would put the fanciest Thanksgiving table to shame. Haroset, matzah kugel, Mom’s matzah ball soup, Gefilte fish…well, some experiments may have been more successful than others.
One such treat is the coconut macaroon. Served chocolate dipped or naked, this chewy cookie is enjoyed year round, but takes center stage at Passover because it naturally lacks leaveners, a big no-no in Passover baking.
The tender macaroon, however, was not created by a Jewish baker in a moment of sweet genius. According to the culinary encyclopedia “Larousse Gastronomique” (Crown, 1988) eighth-century monks from Cormery, France, created it in the year 791, where the confections were made in the shape of monks’ navels. Eeww.
The original macaroon consisted largely of ground almond paste and was similar to Italian amaretti cookie. The name of the cookie comes from the Italian word maccarone meaning paste.
Italian Jews later adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening (macaroons are leavened by egg whites) which of course made it perfect for enjoying during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and over time coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in certain recipes, replaced them. Today’s recipe tends to be simple and include mostly shredded coconut and whipped egg whites.
This unpretentious recipe, and its easy adaptability to various restrictions also make the macaroons ideal for those who keep a gluten free or low carb diet. The recipe below contains less than 2 grams of carbs per cookie, so you can easily chomp through a dozen morsels and still maintain your beach-worthy figure. I cannot make the same promise for your Nana’s kugel, however.
6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup honey or ¼ cup Stevia* (for low carb)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
* I find Stevia rather bitter, so I mix it with a 1:1 ratio with Xylitol, a powdered sugar alcohol. Play with the ratios until you find the flavor you like.
- In a stand mixer equipped with a whisk mix egg whites and salt until stiff
- Carefully fold in honey or Stevia, vanilla and coconut
- Drop tablespoon sized batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Pinch each macaroon at the top to resemble a Hershey’s kiss
- Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned at the tip
Carbs 1.5 g, fiber .07g per cookie
Makes 48 macaroons