My memories of Passover span many years. Because I have always been the youngest in my family most of these years involved me begrudgingly reciting the four questions to an audience of encouraging, yet tyrannical, Jewish relatives. I’d beg to not have to read Hebrew (two hours a week on Sundays is enough, am I right?!). But, due to my age and intrinsic talent for language, I’d lose the battle every year. As such, the mantra “Manishtanah ha-laylah ha-ze” (Why is this night different from all other nights?) will forever be ingrained into my brain. But this girl doesn’t work for free! This night was different from all other nights for one very important reason: unlimited dessert.
I’m not sure if this was a set in stone reward, or if the sheer quantity of elderly Jews slurring Manishevitz-infused Yiddish provided a decoy for my sneakery. I’d stack my plate high with macaroons and sponge cake galore, sometimes tossing in a strawberry or two if only just to throw off any suspicious eyes.
When Passover was over, it was back to the daily grind of Tofuti Cuties and the occasional Oreo. I know…I had a tough life.
Then I discovered Easter. While Passover is all about grown-up food and child torture in the form of scripture reading, Easter focused on the best part: dessert. Some time soon after I reached the double digits, I was invited to a friend’s house for my first ever Easter. It was sort of like this only with sweets instead of singing goldfish. I’m pretty sure that literally everything I ate that day was either made of chocolate or covered with it. None of that hogwash question stuff was mentioned and instead of picking at less than appetizing hard-boiled eggs, we painted them!
I went home that day with a stomachache and a fascination with this fantasy religion called Christianity. My parents were already struggling with the annual temper tantrum that would take place over my wanting a Christmas tree, and this chocolate-filled holiday business wasn’t helping.
Fast-forward a few years. I dropped out of Hebrew School and went to Catholic high school. As you could guess, those Yiddish speaking Jews weren’t too thrilled. However, I learned a lot in Catholic school, including the fact that Easter is not, in fact, a holiday in celebration of chocolate, but rather about a Jewish zombie god rising from the dead. Sounds pretty frightening, if you ask me.
Now in college, I have a much more accepting worldview and actually even maybe miss those days of reciting the four questions to my loving and affectionate family. That said, my feelings about chocolate haven’t changed a bit.
This week, these two worlds collide. As Jews all over the world refrain from eating leavened foods, Christians are stocking up on pastries and chocolate galore. Because I’m all about inclusiveness, I decided to bake chocolate coconut macaroons. I like to think it’s my contribution to the ongoing conversation on religion in our society.
These macaroons aren’t your Bubba’s cardboard lumps of paper mache-like cookies and they’re nothing like that less than acceptable drug-store candy your mom puts in your Easter basket. These macaroons are something special.
Let me get one thing straight. These aren’t chocolate covered macaroons; they’re chocolate infused macaroons. You know those first bites of a chocolate covered macaroon that actually have the chocolate on them? Imagine tasting decadent chocolate with every bite. That’s what we’re doing here.
With respect for my sweet tooth, I like to make these big. This allows the inside to remain gooey, smooth, and fluffy all at once, while the outside gets crispy and shiny. The flyaway coconut shavings taste almost like they’re candied and the egg whites make the whole shebang shiny and light. Please take the word “light” lightly because, although the fluff factor is there, the rich chocolate makes these cookies ultra-rich.
The whole religion thing is super complicated, but these cookies are not. I hereby call for a new holiday to celebrate chocolate coconut macaroons. Peaster? Eastover? I’ll stop talking now…
Makes about 14 large macaroons.
· 3 egg whites
· ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 2/3 cup white sugar
· ¼ teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
· 2 ½ cups sweetened coconut shavings (packed)
1. Using an electric mixer, a whisk, or the whisk attachment on a standing mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed in a large bowl for about two minutes until stiff but not dry.
2. Add cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat until combined.
3. Using a double boiler (or a makeshift one like mine), melt chocolate over boiling water, stirring until completely melted.
4. Once melted, remove top pan/pot/heatproof bowl from heat and let stand for five minutes, or until cool.
5. Pour coconut shavings over chocolate and use a spatula to mix together until the coconut is completely covered in chocolate.
6. Add chocolate-coconut mixture to egg white mixture and use a spatula to fold the coconut into the batter.
7. Once combined, cover bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a light layer of vegetable oil.