Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Almond Macaroons

Although many Jewish holidays revolve around food, none more so than Passover.  Eating and food consumes our thoughts as we prepare for the holiday.  We go through our pantry, cooking combinations we never would have thought before, just so we don't have to throw out perfectly good sauces.  We scrub our kitchen and boil our dishes to eliminate all traces of Hametz.  We buy and abundance of kosher for Passover products in varieties and flavors that we would never buy for the rest of the year but, "look, its K for P - we need it!"  And then the cooking.  There is this mixed feeling of both loving the holiday foods we prepare juxtaposed with the fear that we will starve without bread for one week.  All the Ashkenaz are secretly wishing they were Sephardic.

We focus on the meal that we will prepare for Seder so much, but forget we have 10 steps in the Seder starting from "Kadesh" (blessing) before we get to "Shulchan Oruch" (festive meal).  The first steps in the Seder are what Passover is really about.  It is where we retell the story of our Exodus from Egypt and become free. 

With this in mind, here is a dessert recipe that is so easy, it will allow you to focus on the meaning of Passover and will allow you to spend more time with your family instead of cooking.  This recipe is adapted from a recipe from my mother-in-law.   She is a fantastic baker and these are one of my favorites.  It is so good, that I make it all year round. 

Almond Macaroons
16 oz almond flour (about 4 cups)
2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350. 
Mix together almond flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Add egg whites, one at a time, and mix together with a hand mixer.  Should be a a paste consistency.  Add extract and lemon zest and mix a little more.  Chill the bowl for about 10 minutes.  Spoon out mixture on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Cookies with puff up a little and turn slightly brown when done. 

The added zest really brightens the flavor of these cookies.  Feel free to experiment with orange zest or different extracts to play with the flavor.  This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on size.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Passover!