I love Passover. The day I converted, I turned to my Jewish mother-in-law and said (with a straight face), “You get Hanukkah, I get Passover.” To which she responded (with an equally straight face), “It’s all yours.” She loves a good family get-together, and definitely knows how to throw a shindig, but hates planning anything that needs structure, timetables, or anything “required;” three things relatively inherent in a Passover seder.
If you’ve been following Noshin’ with any regularity, you know how thoroughly I live for menu planning (or any plan, for that matter), any excuse for a big dinner party, and food-intensive Jewish holidays. I’m in my element right now.
My first Passover — not that long ago — I got really excited and ordered my first Joan Nathan cookbook, “Jewish Holiday Cookbook.” Jumping straight to the Passover section, I immediately stumbled upon the almond macaroons and tagged them for menu inclusion, and they’ve been a tradition in our house ever since. (The fact that they are the closest thing I’ve found to my all-time favorite cookies, pistachio macaroons at Mike’s Pastry in Boston’s North End, probably has something to do with their position of favor.)
My menu has changed year to year, but without fail, I will make these dense, chewy, delicious little goodies. And without fail, they will be the first thing everyone finishes off. My favorite part? I serve them before the meal — because you know what free people get to do? Eat dessert first. Not only are they delicious and Passover-friendly, but they are crazy simple to make if you have a food processor (and do you see how short the ingredient list is?).
from Jewish Holiday Cookbook, by Joan Nathan
Makes: About 24 cookies
These cookies are a Passover treat that’s super easy to make, but it does require a food processor (or purchased almond flour). Your hands will get unbelievably sticky while shaping the dough, so just power through and clean your hands off once they’re set for the oven. Make extra and keep them in an airtight container.
2 1/2 cups blanched almonds
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 egg whites
1-2 tsp almond extract
matzah flour for dusting (optional; wheat flour can be used for non-Passover times)
1/4 cup blanched almonds, split, for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grind the almonds very fine in a food processor or other grinder.
- Add the sugar, almond extract, and then the egg whites one at a time, blending by hand or with a food processor until a paste is formed that can be manipulated with the hand.
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (or dust with matzah flour)
- Take a piece of dough the size of a small plum or golf ball. Roll between the palms to make a ball and pinch the top to shape like a pear. Place, wide side down, on the cookie sheet. Place half a blanched almond on top (optional).
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies rise and brown a little. Cool and remove with a spatula, making sure not to break them.