For most of my life, I loathed macaroons–and from the evidence I gathered, so did the rest of my family. Every year around Passover, an aluminum cylinder of Manischewitz coconut macaroons would show up amongst the overflowing bags of Passover foods my mother brought home from Chicago's kosher supermarket. And every year as our family transitioned back into our normal cereal and English muffin routine, the cylinder would remain, virtually untouched.
These products made it easier for families to observe Passover's restrictions, and somehow captivated the hearts of American Jews. By the 1950s, Pleck writes, “Barton's chocolate tin and Streit's aluminum container for macaroons [had become] cultural objects in themselves.” No wonder the macaroons kept showing up in my home. Despite my family's shared loathing of the tinny, cloyingly sweet cookies, they were so iconic that the holiday simply did not feel complete without them.
Traditional macaroons originated in 16th-century Venice (possibly in a monastery), and are typically made with ground almonds. They also rarely contain dairy; their pareve status helps to explain why Jewish communities began to incorporate macaroons as a favorite dessert. The coconut version, which is most popular in America, first gained esteem in the 19th century, and was further popularized by companies like Streit's and Manischewitz. The older dense and chewy macaroon with ground nuts, and the newer macaroon textured with shredded coconut, are held together in the same cookie family by the inclusion of sugar and egg whites in the mix.
- 3 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- scant 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 egg white
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir together the condensed milk, egg white, vanilla, orange extract, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Fold in the coconut, followed by the chocolate chips. Drop tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
Bake until cookies are lightly brown, 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, then peel cookies from parchment. Store in an airtight container.
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