Starting at the tender age of eight or so, my parents shipped me off to camp for one week during the summer. It wasn't a particularly awesome camp. I often hear my peers speak rapturously of...
Coconut macaroons are the poster child of Passover desserts. You'll see the occasional nutty, egg-leavened torte or sorbet, but we all keep coming back to the macaroon.
There's good reason for this. They're beautifully simple to create, and they taste so purely and deliciously of coconut that they can make you forget, in one blissful instant, about the vast world of overcomplicated, fussy desserts out there.
Problem is, at least for someone in my position, everyone and their sister is making coconut macaroons for Passover...and posting it on their blog. There are some really magical variations on the theme to be had, but I hate adding more of the same to an already oversaturated blogosphere.
And then I remembered the bag of sliced almonds in my pantry.
Almonds are where it's at, folks. And toasted almonds? Don't even get me started.
Let's just say that we have a strong affection for almonds at the Joy Kitchen. In any case, my thought process went as follows: coconut macaroons minus coconut plus sliced almonds equals...really amazing almond macaroons.
Not the most profound thing, I know, but revolutionary in its own quiet way. And rather than drown all those lovely almonds in a sticky foam of whipped egg whites, I luckily remembered Alice Medrich's genius technique for coconut macaroons.
Rather than beating egg whites (as someone who doesn't have a dishwasher, I really appreciate not having to clean my whisk attachment), Medrich combines all the ingredients in a bowl which she then sets in a pan of simmering water. Once the egg whites turn opaque, she simply scoops the mixture onto baking sheets and within 20 minutes or so, you have the dreamiest, flakiest, purest coconut macaroons ever.
Now, apply this technique to sliced almonds, and Passover dessert is done. But really, you won't want to limit these to Passover.
Adapted from Alice Medrich's "New Classic Coconut Macaroons" from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, Artisan, copyright 2010.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
In a heatproof bowl (I used my double boiler pan), combine:
4 large egg whites
3 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Big pinch salt
Set the bowl directly in a pan of simmering water. Stir the mixture constantly with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Stir until the egg whites turn opaque and the mixture is hot to the touch.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto your lined baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake until the almonds are well-toasted and fragrant, about 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the parchment.
If desired, you can brush the cookies with melted chocolate for added effect. Melt in the microwave on 30-second bursts, stirring after each 30 seconds:
4 ounces dark chocolate
Brush the bottoms of the cookies with the melted chocolate. Alternatively, dip half of each cookie into the chocolate. Chill for 15 minutes or so to set the chocolate.
Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to one week.