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Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons, Kosher for Sephardic Passover

Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons are vegan and Kosher for Sephardic Passover (All photos from Deborah Brooks)

Passover is an important holiday in the Jewish calendar of the many holidays celebrated throughout the year. It represents the quick Exodus of the Israelites (Jews) from enslavement by the Pharaohs in Egypt into the freedom of the land of Israel. The week long commemoration begins with the Seder, a dinner jam packed with symbolic foods of the suffering in ancient Biblical times; from salt water that represents the tears of bondage to Charoset, an apple mixture that represents the mortar the enslaved Israelites used to form the bricks for palaces and for what many believe are the Pyramids.

Now, what is eaten also represents what isn’t eaten which may seem a conundrum to those not familiar with the restricted diet during the seven day celebration. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Matzoh or unleavened bread is at the core of the holiday. The Israelites didn’t have time to let the bread rise before the exodus so they ate unleavened bread. In addition, leavened bread was representative of the wealthy Egyptians who held them in bondage. Dry, unleavened bread was the food of slaves. Passover is a time of humility when Jewish people worldwide acknowledge the hardships of their ancestors with the foods consumed and those forbidden as commanded in the Torah. Only kosher for Passover matzoh is eaten during the week in place of all bread products. All baked goods must be made with kosher for Passover flour. Most grains are forbidden.

This leads us to another conundrum: Ashkenazi vs Sephardic. There are two major sects of Jewish people in the diaspora. Ashkenazi, those that settled in Central Europe, after the expulsion from Judea and Samaria by the Romans thousands of years ago, and those that settled in the Iberian peninsula; Spain and Portugal. They have different sets of rules for Passover foods. In a nutshell, the Ashkenazi forbid legumes. The Sephardim allow them, including chickpeas, which brings us full circle back to the title of this recipe.

Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons, Kosher for Sephardic Passover.

Traditionally, macaroons are made with whipped eggs whites. Being vegan, I no longer use eggs in recipes. The best replacement for beaten egg whites in baking is aqua faba, the liquid from chickpeas. So, while my ancestors are Ashkenazi and forbid chickpeas, my new Passover cooking style is Sephardic so that I can enjoy the most delectable of Passover treats. And these macaroons are delectable! A crisp exterior with a soft, chewy bite, they are an explosion of coconut flavor as four coconut products are used in the dough and one in the chocolate coating. Yes, these are most definitely Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons! It took a few trials and errors in the kitchen to get the texture and sweetness level, just right, for my refined palate. IMHO, these are best coconut macaroons out there. And I’ve eaten a lot of macaroons in my lifetime as they are a favorite cookie. Of note, while I did make them all fancy for the holiday, these gems are divine naked and unadorned.

As for some of the other ingredients, I don’t keep a strict kosher for Passover home so some ingredients listed may not be kosher for Passover under strict Rabbinic supervision. If you are strict, use products that work for that.

Whether or not you celebrate this holiday as Ashkenazi or Sephardic or whatever incarnation you do or don’t believe and whether or not you are vegan, if you love coconut, you need to bake these Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons now or any time of the year.

Chef’s Tips:

  1. Aqua faba, the liquid from the canned chickpeas can be more watery than an egg whites. I recommend cooking down the liquid in a small saucepan until reduced by half. This should give you enough for this recipe. Make sure to let the aqua faba cool before using. Even better, refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cold aqua faba helps with aeration when whipped. I used salted chickpeas. For a reduced sodium cookie use aqua faba from reduced or sodium free chickpeas.
  2. Whipped aqua faba is not as stable as whipped egg whites. To make up for that I added 1/4 cup coconut flour. This was the magic trick after the first batch I made was too soft. It added even more coconut flavor.
  3. Most macaroon recipes use an entire bag of sweetened shredded coconut. I found this too sweet with the sweetened condensed coconut milk. I’ve replaced most of the sweetened coconut with unsweetened shredded coconut. I do use some sweetened coconut shreds as they are very moist and help keep the macaroon from being too crumbly.
  4. There are many ways to shape the macaroon. I like to form it with a medium sized cookie scooper and then squeeze the center up slightly, with my hands, to form more of a cone shape. I made 24 macaroons from this recipe. You can make them smaller if you want more per batch, just be sure to adjust cooking time.
  5. Not all dark chocolate is vegan. Many semi-sweet chocolate products contain milk powder. Always check ingredients if you are looking for dairy free chocolate. In addition, buy the best chocolate you can afford. I used Callebaut chocolate chips for the coating. They melted beautifully in the microwave. They are available at Surfas and online.
  6. Adding coconut oil to the melted chocolate helps with shine and quick set-up. You can use either virgin coconut oil or refined, which has no coconut taste. I used virgin and didn’t find that it made the chocolate taste coconut-y.
  7. Once cooled, chill the unadorned baked macaroons in a covered container in the fridge an hour before dipping in the chocolate. This is another way to help the chocolate set-up and dry faster. If you’re using additional toppings, such as sprinkles, coat them immediately after the macaroon is dipped in the chocolate for best adherence.
  8. To keep the kitchen from being a mess I recommend lining a large baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper, then placing a cookie cooling rack on top. Once you dip the macaroon in chocolate, decorate it over the rack to catch extra toppings. Place the decorated macaroon on the rack to dry. Once all of the macaroons are decorated place the pan in the fridge for 15 minutes to fully set-up the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully dried, store in covered containers. If eating within a day or two they can be kept on the counter. Otherwise freeze until ready to use. Thaw out on the counter.
  9. These macaroons are divine as is. It’s optional whether or not you want to dip in chocolate and decorate. Other decorating options include; finishing salt, crumbled toasted nuts, shredded coconut and colored sanding sugars. Sprinkle the toppings vs dipping to keep the toppings in the bowl clean of chocolate drips.

Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons, For a Sephardic Passover
Makes 2 dozen
Please refer to chef’s tips for helpful hints in creating these gems

Basic Macaroons

Set the oven to 325 with the rack in the middle. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

1 11.25 oz can sweetened condensed coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (or use all vanilla extract, if preferred)
1 (8 oz.) bag unsweetened coconut shreds
4 oz. (1.5 cups) sweetened coconut shreds
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/8 tsp sea salt ( 1/4 tsp if using unsalted chickpeas)
4 T aqua faba (equivalent to 2 egg whites) from a 15 oz. can of chickpeas

In a large bowl combine the 2 kinds of shredded coconut with the coconut flour and salt until well combined.

In a smaller bowl whisk together the coconut condensed milk and vanilla and almond extracts.

Mix the condensed milk into the coconut shred mixture until well combined. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add the aqua faba to the mixing bowl. Start on low and gradually increase speed to medium. Beat on medium a few minutes and then keep increasing speed until on the highest speed. Beat the aqua faba until medium stiff peaks appear. Total time is about 8-10 minutes. Aqua faba takes longer to beat then egg whites.

Whipped aqua faba added to coconut mixture

Gently fold in the whipped aqua faba into the coconut mixture making sure to evenly incorporate.

Using a medium cookie scoop or a tablespoon form the coconut mixture into mounds and place on the cookie sheets 1-2 inches apart. I have half sheet pans and got 12 per pan. To make them into cone shapes squeeze a bit in the center and then pinch on top.

Macaroons ready to go into the oven

Bake one pan at a time for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top and on the bottom. All ovens are different so you will have to check to see how they are baking.

Let the macaroons cool in the pan 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire baking rack to fully cool.

Can be eaten immediately, as is, or decorated with chocolate and toppings.

If dipping in chocolate I recommend cooling the macaroons, covered, in the fridge for an hour.

Baked macaroons cooling on a rack

Decorating the Macaroons

2 dozen baked and chilled macaroons
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 heaping tsp coconut oil
Colored and/or chocolate sprinkles or toppings of choice

Please see chef’s tip #8 to set up a pan for drips.

Have your macaroons and toppings of choice near the drip pan

In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments stirring up as you go, until almost fully melted. Remove from the microwave and stir up chocolate to melt any chips that are still a bit lumpy. Add the coconut oil and stir up to fully incorporate until smooth and silky.

Immediately get to work dipping one macaroon at a time in the melted chocolate and then immediately adding toppings over the drip pan. Then place the finished macaroon to dry on the rack. Continue with the rest of the macaroons. When finished, let set 10 minutes then refigerate on the rack in the pan 15 minutes to fully harden.

Drip tray set-up for decorating macaroons

I chose to leave some macaroons just chocolate covered and some in colored or chocolate sprinkles to give guests options. The sprinkle dipped will be sweeter.

5 coconut products for the Coconut Gone Wild Macaroons
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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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