I set out to make good macaroons from scratch, with hopes of bringing something top-notch to this year’s family seder. About 30 seconds later, I realized that I already knew a macaroon secret that would make 2016’s cookies awesome. Fast forward another 1800 seconds and these pistachio and coconut macaroons were in the oven. They’re a true competitor for the delicious canned macaroons I usually gobble on Passover.
Here’s the trick. After you combine nuts with egg whites and sugar, you sauté the batter in a heavy pan over low heat. The sugars caramelize and the mixture grows sticky. Only after this stovetop cooking session do you form the batter into spheres and bake as for regular cookies. The cooking not only changes the taste. It does something wondrous to the texture. The cookies that come out of the oven are crackly on the inside and dense on the inside. They’re rich in a way that belies the short, egg white-centric ingredient list. All that from one simple, extra step.
I learned this secret years ago from an Italian cookie called brutti ma buoni, which I tried the BEST EVER version of – on a tip from a BGSK reader – at a restaurant in Clinton Hill called Locanda Vini e Olii (if you live in NYC, please go; when you do, order the “guitar strings” con le sarde and save room for the cookies). If you ever see a recipe for brutti where you don’t first cook the batter, don’t make it: you’ll be replacing a heavenly texture with that light, brittle, forgettable crisp of whipped-up egg whites.
I remembered the steps for making the cookies as laborious. That might have been because I tested and retested the cookies in the smallest kitchen I’ve ever cooked in, the one with the teensy refrigerator and half-size oven. The one that gave this blog its name. But this time the cookies came together quickly around toasted flakes of coconut and crunchy pistachios, chopped finely. Really, no big deal!
Bring them to Passover seders. Or eat them all yourself.