By Stacey Dresner
For some time I have wondered why those colorful little confections popping up in food and lifestyle magazines were called “macaroons.” You know, those fancy, brightly-hued little sandwich cookies, filled with a layer of cream?
Aren’t macaroons those little cookies covered in coconut that are sold in tin cans during Passover? I thought to myself.
So when I went online recently and looked up “macaroon vs. macaron” – lo and behold! I learned that they are two different versions of the same cookie which originated in the 9th century.
The name comes from the Italian word maccarone which means “paste” for the almond paste that is a main ingredient.
Macarons, also known as “French macaroons” are the light meringue cookies colored with food dye and filled with flavored crème. Macaroons, popular in the United States and United Kingdom, are often made with dessicated coconut.
What do they have in common? They are both kosher for Passover!
Here are recipes for both – a macaron filled with chocolate cream and the easiest macaroon recipe you will ever find.
1 1/3 cups almond flour/finely ground almonds
2 cups Passover powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I only use Valrhona)
2 tablespoons coffee or espresso powder
1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature
Chocolate Ganache (dairy) OR
Chocolate Mousse with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (parve) – See recipes below.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stack another baking sheet under the lined one for more insulation (this keeps the bottom of the macaroons from over browning).
Fit the pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip. Preheat oven to 325.
Sift the almond flour with the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and espresso powder through a fine mesh sifter and set aside.
Whip the egg whites until they are firm but still glossy. Do not overwhip.
Fold the dry ingredients gently into the whites in three additions. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag. “Glue” the parchment paper down on each corner with a small amount of batter. This will prevent the parchment paper from blowing onto the macarons and sticking to them.
Trace 1 1/2 inch circles spaced 2 inches apart onto the parchment paper. Turn the parchment over so you can see the circles. This way the cookies will not pick up the ink or pencil.
Pipe the batter into the circles. The batter should not be too stiff nor should it be too runny. It should softly hold a shape.
Before baking the macarons, rap the baking sheets sharply against the counter. This will remove the air from the cookies and keep them from puffing up too much.
Place the macarons into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the macarons are firm to the touch.
Remove the bottom baking sheet; place the sheet with the macarons on a cooling rack. When the macarons are cool enough to handle, transfer them to the cooling rack.
Match up the cooled cookies according to size. Spread a small amount of filling on one of the macarons and sandwich the other on top. Store the macarons, wrapped tightly, in the freezer. Place the filled sandwich cookies in the refrigerator for several hours to setup the filling.
Notes: Yields-24 macarons
Chocolate Ganache (Dairy Preparation)
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped (During Passover I use Schmerlings 72% bittersweet chocolate and during the rest of the year, I use Callebaut 70%)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons butter
Place the chopped chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Heat the cream over medium heat until it is barely simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
Stir together until the mixture is smooth, add the butter and stir into the mixture. Cover the ganache on the surface with plastic wrap and allow it to thicken as it cools at room temperature.
To fill the macarons, scoop a small amount of ganache and spread it over one macaron on the flat side and sandwich together.
Chocolate Mousse with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (parve)
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (must be at least 70%)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs separated
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Sea salt (garnish)
Melt the chocolate and cool to room temperature. Add the olive oil and set aside. Combine the yolks and powdered sugar and whisk until foamy, add the chocolate mixture. Beat the whites to a stiff peak, fold the whites into the chocolate. Shmear some of the mousse on one of the macarons and sandwich together with another. Place the filled sandwich cookies in the refrigerator for several hours to setup the filling.
RECIPE COURTESY OF RONNIE FEIN, AUTHOR OF HIP KOSHER and THE MODERN KOSHER KITCHEN
2 cups packaged, shredded coconut
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 large egg whites
garnish: chopped dried fruit, chocolate chips, crystallized ginger, whole almonds, etc.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a bowl, toss the coconut, sugar and salt together. Add the egg whites and mix the ingredients until a uniform “dough” has formed. Take heaping teaspoons of dough and shape them into about 20 balls. Place the balls on the cookie sheet a piece of put a garnish on top of each ball. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cake rack to cool completely. Makes about 20
If you like firmer macaroons, mix 1/4 cup matzo cake meal into the dough.
To make them chocolate covered: melt some semisweet chocolate with vegetable shortening (about one tablespoon for every 6 ounces of chocolate). Use this as a dip to cover the baked macaroons.
Making Passover memorable and delicious
JNS.org – “Everyone needs crowd-pleasing recipes we can turn to over and over again,” says Elizabeth Kurtz, author of the cookbook, Celebrate: Food… Family… Shabbos. “This is important for every holiday, but especially for Passover, when ingredients are usually more limited. At the heart of every Jewish celebration is family or friends gathered around the table enjoying stories, conversation, tradition, and great dishes. I believe with all of my heart that these traditions, these meals, and these remarkable memories have held us together as a Jewish people for thousands of years.”
“I am motivated to inspire people to taste new dishes, to broaden their palate, or mostly to enjoy the moments they spend in the kitchen preparing for Passover,” she added. “My mission is to share fantastic recipes with my readers so they can make a fresh, fabulous, and easy meals that will be loved, wow guests, and be treasured for years to come.”
This exotic Spanish soup is a Passover favorite for my family, precisely because it tastes nothing like Passover. Carrots and zucchinis, fresh cilantro, wonderful rich broth, and flavorful meatballs—albondigas—make a filling first course that your family and guests will love. Yield: serves 10
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the soup:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 avocado, pitted and chopped, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
To prepare the meatballs: Combine turkey, matzo meal, cilantro, parsley, cumin, and salt in a medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the mixture until blended. Add egg, mixing just until combined. Form into 1-inch balls.
To prepare the soup: Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, water, and tomato paste, stirring to dissolve. Add carrots; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and add meatballs; cook 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Add zucchini; cook until carrots and zucchini are tender and meatballs are cooked through, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Add chopped cilantro, oregano, salt, and pepper. Serve warm with avocado, lime wedges, and a sprinkle of minced cilantro.
Your house will smell amazing when you make this chicken with wine, chicken, shallots, garlic, lemons, and mushrooms. Artichoke bottoms are available in both the freezer section and in a can. If using frozen artichokes, thaw before using. You can also use marinated artichoke hearts from a jar in place of the artichoke bottoms; just be sure to drain them before using. This must be served warm. Yield: serves 8
2 (3- to 4-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 pound artichoke bottoms (or zucchini sliced in 1-inch rounds)
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
10 large cloves garlic
8 shallots, peeled and halved
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup pitted green olives
Preheat oven to 500°F. Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, and season with salt and pepper. Zest each lemon into long strips; squeeze juice into a separate small bowl. Set juice aside. Combine lemon zest, artichokes, mushrooms, garlic, shallots, and thyme in a medium bowl. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil; toss to coat. Arrange mixture in pan around chicken. Roast until chicken is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove chicken from oven. Pour reserved lemon juice, wine, and olives over chicken. Return to oven and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with vegetables and pan juices.
For the meringue crust:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon potato starch
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Passover vanilla extract
For the filling:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups pareve whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form, divided
Generous amount of chocolate and pareve white chocolate shavings, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. To prepare the meringue crust: With an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and potato starch, constantly beating. Stir in vinegar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form and meringue is thick and glossy. Spoon meringue into prepared pie pan; press against sides to form a crust. Place in oven and turn off heat. Leave meringue in oven for 3 hours; remove pan to cool. The meringue can be stored up to 2 days, covered, in a dry place.
To prepare the filling:
Melt chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks, sugar, water, and salt until frothy. Stir into pan of melted chocolate. Cook mixture over low heat, whisking constantly until thick, about 4 minutes. Cool completely. Fold chocolate mixture into half of the prepared whipped cream. Pour into cooled shell; chill in refrigerator until mousse is set. Top with remaining half of whipped cream; garnish with chocolate and white chocolate shavings. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
4 cups, 5 stars: Sophisticated kosher wine increasingly popular at Passover seders
By Deborah Fineblum/JNS.org
Even the most finicky wine snob won’t be able to “pass over” the new generation of kosher wines. Increasingly, the current mindset is that since Jews are commanded to drink four cups of wine at the Passover seder, they might as well drink high-quality wine in the process.
The last decade has witnessed a veritable explosion of high-quality kosher wines, a far cry from the heavy, sweet and vaguely medicinal wines that graced the seder tables of yesteryear.
“These days there are so many different kosher wines out there that even Trader Joe’s sells them, and you know what? They’re not bad,” says Arlene Mathes-Scharf, speaking with JNS.org at the time of year when her email is humming, her phone is ringing off the hook and her website—kashrut.com—is getting countless hits from consumers who find themselves in Passover-related food and wine quandaries.
Indeed, industry insiders report that for more than a decade, the variety and quality of kosher wine has been on the rise, matching customers’ tastes and demands.
“Today’s Jewish consumer is more sophisticated and discerning, and not satisfied with sacramental wine,” says Jay Buchsbaum, a vice president at the New Jersey-based Royal Wine Corporation. “They have more disposable income and they’re willing to spend a little more for a good wine. They’re not willing to settle.”
In addition to kosher wine industry giants such as Carmel from Israel, Baron Herzog from California and Bartenura from Italy, many smaller European boutique wineries are securing kosher certification for a segment of their wines.
“They like that there’s a ready market for better kosher wine today,” Buchsbaum says. “They know that the moment the grapes are crushed, the wine has already been bought.”
The demand for kosher wine also makes a steep climb around the time of Passover, the widely celebrated Jewish holiday that often attracts a mix of family members and friends with varying needs at the same seder table. In such scenarios, even those who don’t keep kosher laws might purchase kosher wines. “It’s safer that way,” says Buchsbaum.
It’s no wonder, then, that 40 percent of all kosher wine is sold in the months leading up to Passover.
“If you estimate that a seder has 18 adults who each drink four cups, that adds up. There’s a lot of wine coming in the door,” says Israeli wine blogger and columnist David Rhodes, who runs the “Drink Israel” Facebook page.
Since seder participants drink so much wine at the traditional gathering—much of it on a relatively empty stomach—before the meal, it’s important to supply wine that won’t make them too drunk to appreciate the message of the seder, warns California-based kosher wine critic and blogger David Raccah, who runs kosherwinemusings.com.
“That’s why it’s the worst time to try ‘bombastic,’ high-alcohol wines,” Raccah says. “You’ll want to stick to light wines like Via Sparkling, preferably under 10 percent alcohol, that won’t land you flat on your back by the time the food is served.”
When they’re combing the supermarket shelves this time of year, many consumers reach for wines from Israel, which exports some 1.5 million bottles to the U.S. each year.
“Not only is Israel the place that the story of Passover is about—wine is mentioned over 70 times in the Torah—but buying Israeli is a chance to support Israel and Israelis,” says Rhodes, who adds that vineyards are an efficient way to use the Jewish state’s land since grapes are both a low-water and high-profit crop.
“You can get upscale French and Italian kosher wines along with California ones, but the hottest trend is the Israeli wines,” says Royal Wine’s Buchsbaum.
According to Rhodes, Israel’s expanding high-quality wine market took off in 1983, when Golan Heights Winery (under its Yarden label) opened its doors. These days, Israeli wines are bringing home prizes from international competitions. “And 2016 was a very good year for Israeli wine,” notes Rhodes. Eran Pick of Tzora Winery was recently named Israel’s first-ever accredited “Master of Wine,” and a story on Israeli wines was featured on the cover of the October 2016 issue of the popular Wine Spectator magazine. The same magazine’s 2016 list of the world’s Top 100 wines included two from Israel, selections from the Tzora and Galil Mountain wineries.
“We’re only the 36th wine producer in the world in terms of size. We produce 1/400th of the French output, a drop in the barrel. But our recognition is growing geometrically,” Rhodes says.
Raccah says that the Israeli market is still somewhat bifurcated between the religious Jews “who just want to make kiddush (the blessing on wine for Shabbat and holiday meals)” and the more yuppified Tel Aviv market “that demands excellent boutique wines whether for home or to order in restaurants.”
But Rhodes says he is optimistic that the two market sectors can coexist, “since Israel is increasingly able to produce kosher wines that are religiously proper while still pleasing a more refined palate.”
“You don’t have to compromise anymore,” Buchsbaum adds. “You can buy kosher, support Israel and still enjoy wonderful wines.”
What may be the ultimate affirmation for the growing field of top-flight kosher wine is the following sentiment that Buchsbaum says he has heard hundreds of times from consumers: “I’m not really kosher, but I had to bring something nice to a seder once and I’ve been drinking that wine ever since.”
“Look at it this way,” Buchsbaum says. “The largest-selling Moscato (an Italian sparkling wine) in the world is a kosher wine by Bartenura that sells 5 million bottles annually. Most of those customers aren’t even Jewish. They just like the wine.”