Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

So it’s day six of the eight days of Passover and needless to say my matzah tolerance levels are at an all -time low.  Passover is an exhausting holiday as far as cooking goes because it requires enormous creativity in the kitchen, from matzah pizza to matzah lasagna every evening demands odd mixtures of egg, matzah and whatever else you can think of to assemble some semblance of a normal meal.  The first two days are a wonderful breeze of delicious traditional Sedar foods like gefilte fish, haroset, brisket, chicken and potato kugle.  But as the days of Passover wear on the novelty wears off and the matzah marathon can wear you down.  But for me this week, just when I was entering into my darkest matzah hour, my sister called with a blast of fresh baking news…an outstanding and simple macaroon recipe!

I told her that I hated macaroons but she insisted I give it a try anyways.  She had them at her friend’s house and I believe that one “Tal’s Mom” needs all the credit for the recipe.  Despite my severe distaste for Passover macaroons I gave the recipe a try because 1. Total prep time was less than five minutes. 2. I had a bunch of boys coming over to watch a playoff hockey game and water and matzah wasn’t going to cut it. And 3. I trust my sister so decided to have a go at it.  End result…AMAZING.  I had to hold the boys off with a stick to make them wait until I finished photographing the little chewy puffs.  They (the macaroons not the boys) were lovely, chocolaty and the texture from the coconut was perfect.  Even if you aren’t restricted to the flourless week of Passover these are most definitely worth a try.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easy as Pie Plum Tart

I’ve heard that sometimes it helps to think about something you can’t have right now to make you appreciate it all the more when you finally get it.  So in the spirit of delayed gratification, I decided to post my favorite tart recipe right in the middle of Passover.  I think it is because this week I can’t eat this delightful pie that I make so often that I’ve realized how special it is and how much I want to share it.

Despite what I consider an absolutely breathtaking baked good, the beautiful product is very simple to make.  Sometimes I admit, I don’t even measure and just throw some flour walnuts sugar butter (skip the egg) and some fruit in the oven for 20 minutes and bake up an easy mid-week dessert.  But as that sort of reckless recipe abandonment frightens many, I’ve posted the actual official Barefoot Contessa recipe below.

But trust me on this one, next time you have a last peach you feel is past it’s prime take about a cup of flour, a handful of chopped walnuts, a similar handful of brown sugar and about a half stick of butter, mash it all up right in your dish, dice the fruit on top, bake and enjoy!

The all-purpose fruit tart…from the Barefoot Contessa
Prep Time: 10 minutes      Bake Time: 40 minutes
2 cups flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1  ½ sticks cold unsalted butter or margarine, diced
1 egg yolk
8 ripe plums (feel free to use peaches, apples, anything you like really!) sliced.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Mix together the flour, chopped walnuts and sugar.  To the mixture add the cold diced butter and the egg yolk.  With your fingers crumble everything together.  The dough won’t make a solid malleable mall so don’t bother trying, it should remain crumbly.

Take ¾ of the mixture and press along the bottom and sides of a springform tart-pan or 9 in. pie dish.  Arrange the fruit slices in a circular pattern.  Then use the remaining mixture to sprinkle on top of the plums.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned (check at about 30 minutes to see how it’s getting on.)  Better served warm and best served with ice cream.

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