After my last debacle with almond flour and citrus, you would think I’d be reluctant to go down that road again, but I guess I’m just a natural born gambler. Well, a gambler in the culinary sense, at least. I have never understood the appeal of real gambling. If I’m going to throw money away, I’d at least like to have a pair of shoes to show for it.When I saw this recipe for Flourless Almond Cookies with Cardamom, Orange Zest and Pistachios, I thought it would be a perfect addition to our Passover dessert table. I changed it up and used lime instead of orange and deleted the cardamom. It’s one of those flavours I want to like, but haven’t yet acquired a taste for. I used to hate cilantro and now I love it, so there’s still hope for cardamom.These are a slice and bake cookie. They’re fast to make. You do need to allow time for chilling the logs before slicing, so plan ahead. The logs get rolled in finely chopped pistachios. When slicing, make sure you rotate the log 90° (a quarter turn) after each slice to keep from getting one flat side.I decided to glam up these cookies by adding a sweet-tart glaze. I finished them off with a sprinkling of lime zest and more chopped pistachios.These cookies are the perfect little bite to end the Passover seder with. Chewy in the center, crispy on the edges and an ideal sweet-tart balance. I also made a batch with lemon and they were fantastic.
I read in the Globe and Mail Food section this week that God gave us cardboard so that we could describe the taste of matzoh. Not this matzoh treat!!
I made this for my sister Bonnie. I slightly adapted the recipe from the April 2015 issue of Bon Appetit. This matzoh crunch is kicked up with a pinch of hot pepper. I wanted to make it with Aleppo pepper because she puts that sh#t on everything! Sadly, if you have been following the news, you will know that Aleppo pepper is almost impossible to get now. The civil war in Syria has virtually destroyed the Aleppo pepper production. (Although the scarcity of Aleppo pepper is the least of their problems.) The citizens of Syria are in my thoughts and prayers.
Aleppo is a dried crushed red pepper. It is slightly fruity, with a whiff of smoke and only moderately spicy. I actually found a forgotten tin of it at the back of my cupboard. Not sure how long it’s been there but it has lost most of it’s potency.
I decided to make a few batches of this treat using a variety of peppers and compare the results.
Maras pepper (sometimes spelled Marash), from Turkey, is a good substitute for Aleppo. It is slightly smokier and hotter. I made a third batch with supermarket red pepper flakes and one final batch with chipotle powder, because that’s my jam!Brown sugar, butter and your chill pepper of choice get whisked together over moderate heat until hot and bubbly. Pour over matzoh and spread into an even layer. Bake toffee covered matzoh for about 10 minutes. Top hot matzoh with bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips and let sit until they melt. Spread chocolate until smooth.Top with toasted chopped pistachios, dried cherries, toasted coconut flakes, coarse salt and cocoa nibs.Chill and cut into squares.Or cut into wedges. Any way you slice it, it’s delicious.The batches I made with the Aleppo and Maras were not very spicy. The heat was barely noticeable even though I doubled the amount of pepper recomended in the Bon Appetit recipe (I used 1 teaspoon instead of 1/2 teaspoon). The red pepper flakes batch had obvious but not burning heat. It was my favourite. The chipotle was too smoky for my liking. This matzoh crunch is a flavour bomb in your mouth. Sweet (chocolate), salty (coarse salt and pistachios), sour (cherries), bitter (cocoa nibs), spicy and crunchy.
Click here to print recipe for Kicked Up Matzoh Crunch.
Spoiler alert! These were an epic fail. My husband encouraged me to blog about them, even though I would never serve them or make them again. He said that publicly acknowledging my failure would make me more likeable and relatable to my readers. My daughter urged me not to blog about them because no one wants to read about bungled pastry.
In the end, I decided to share with you , if only to see if anyone can solve the mystery of what happened to these bars. More about that in a minute.
If you had come into my house at the beginning of this week, you would have inhaled deeply and said, “It smells heavenly in here.” The air was intoxicatingly scented with coconut, butter, brown sugar and chocolate and almonds. Every year, I am in charge of baking desserts for our family seders. (40 plus on my husband’s side the first night, and 35 plus on my side the second night)
And yes, I would have agreed with you that it was smelling quite delicious in my kitchen on that first day of baking. However, by day 3 of my bake-a-thon, the ambrosial scent suddenly turned cloying and I could no longer stomach the stench of coconut, sugar and chocolate. I needed a break and thought that some citrus would help clear the air.
I was inspired by these pistachio-lemon bars from Molly O’Neill over at NYT Cooking. Since flour is not used during Passover, I replaced the all-purpose flour in the recipe with ground almonds. A very strange thing happened when I baked them. The crust rose to the top and the lemon filling sunk to the bottom, and stuck horribly to the parchment paper lining.
I scraped them out of the pan and tried again, with this recipe from Joy of Kosher. I used pistachios instead of walnuts in the crust and ground almonds instead of matzoh meal in the filling. Same thing happened when I baked them. The crust magically rose to the top and the filling sunk and stuck.
I am nothing if not persistent, so I tried once more, figuring maybe third time’s the charm. I used Anna Olsen’s lemon squares recipe filling and doubled the amount of the first crust I tried, figuring, if it was heavier, it would stay put. I had run out of lemons, so I used limes this time.The filling sunk to the bottom again, but this time it did not stick too terribly to the parchment so I was able to get them out of the pan, flip them over and slice them into squares. While they had a nice lemon tang, the crust became soggy after a few minutes. Within an hour they were a stodgy gluey mess.If anyone reading this knows the reason for the sinking filling, I’d love an explanation. Hope your baking is going better than mine!!
These are my absolute favourite macaroons. That’s macaroon, with 2 o’s – the coconut variety, not the pain-in-the-ass Diva, ground almond and meringue variety, which are macarons, with one o. This recipe for Triple Coconut Macaroons, comes from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. I have been making these since the recipe first came out in 2000. Why I have waited so long to share with you is a mystery to me. I promise you, I’m reallly not a petty person.
Although I could make them any time of year, I always associate coconut macaroons with Passover. As a child we bought our macaroons from Open Window Bakery in Toronto. They made both vanilla and chocolate coconut macaroons. I preferred the simplicity of the vanilla ones. I found the chocolate ones too chocolatey for me. The cocoa powder masked the flavour of the coconut, which is exactly the point of coconut macaroons. I always felt sorry for those families that had to get their macaroon fix from the can. They were gummy and chewy, in short, just awful.
The quintessential coconut macaroon is slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, without being gluey. They should be sweet, but not cloyingly so, and they should be bursting with shreds of sweetened coconut. A final dip in a melted chocolate bath, to cover the lower third of the macaroon would not be a bad thing.
Cook’s Illustrated’s test kitchen discovered that the choice of coconut in the macaroon makes a big difference in both taste and texture. Unsweetened shredded coconut, which is drier than sweetened, solved the gluey texture issue. Sweetened shredded coconut packed more flavor than unsweetened, and together they worked very well. To add one more layer of coconut flavor, they tried cream of coconut and cracked the coconut macaroon code.
Cream of coconut, is not to be confused with coconut cream or coconut milk. Here is a little coconut product primer:
Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. Coconut cream is made by simmering equal parts of shredded coconut and water until frothy, then straining the mixture through a cheesecloth, squeezing out as much liquid as possible; this is coconut milk. The coconut milk is refrigerated and allowed to set. Coconut cream is the thick non-liquid part that separates and rises to the top of the coconut milk.
Cream of coconut is coconut cream that has been sweetened. It is used most commonly in piña coladas. This is the one you want for this recipe. I usually find it in Asian supermarkets, although some larger stores carry it in the drinks aisle.
Creamed coconut is a compressed block of coconut flesh which has been slightly dehydrated and sold in a waxy lump.
This recipe does contain corn syrup, so if you keep strictly Kosher for Passover, here is a recipe for a corn syrup alternative.
Lately, there has been much written about the evils of high fructose corn syrup. This is not the same as the regular corn syrup you buy for baking. If you are at all concerned and want to know more about the science behind it, this article clears up the confusion.
The canned cream of coconut has liquid at the bottom, so it is best to empty it out into a bowl and mix it up with a spoon before measuring and adding to the batter.
The batter should be chilled for about 15 minutes before shaping macaroons. here is a video demonstrating how to shape them.
The chocolate should be chopped fairly fine. I melt about 3/4 of it in the microwave on medium power. When it is totally melted, stir in the remaining 1/4 of chocolate. This is a quick and dirty tempering method but it works quite well.
I like to dip the bottom third of the cookies in chocolate.
Click here to print recipe for Triple-Coconut-Macaroons.
For our family Passover seders in Toronto, I help out by bringing desserts. Last year I made Matzoh Crunch, Salted Caramel Macarons, Chocolate Macarons as well as Coconut Macaroons. My nephew Riley will cause a revolt if I don’t show up with Matzoh Crunch, so that stays in the rotation, but I needed to come up with something new to add to the plate this year. Passover desserts are quite limiting as you can’t bake with flour during Passover. For many years, people used Matzoh Meal as a substitute for flour in their favourite desserts. The results were always leaden and heavy and stayed with you almost as long as the eight days of Passover. Coconut is a very prevalent ingredient on the Passover dessert table, usually in the form of macaroons. But even coconut lovers have their limit.
This post is dedicated to all the coconut haters out there. I may not be a member of your tribe, but I respect your right to hate coconut. I may not understand it, but I do respect it. Coconut is one of those polarizing flavours, much like cilantro. You either love it or hate it. I happen to love it.
This is a great recipe to make for the coconut haters. This recipe was sent to me several years ago, by my sister Bonnie. I keep a very organized filing system and the recipe was exactly where I thought it should be. Trust me, that doesn’t always happen. Aside from being simple to make, they are quite beautiful to look at. They glitter like Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring and will disappear even quicker than her marriage! The texture of these cookies is a perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.
Eggs, sugar and honey are beaten very well, then melted chocolate and butter are mixed in. Ground almonds and a touch of cocoa powder are added and then the whole mixture is chilled for several hours.
Scoop cookies onto baking sheet, roll in coarse sugar and bake.