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Vegan for the Holidays


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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

I fondly remember the delicious macaroons my parents used to bring home from the Jewish bakery a day or two before our first Seder. They seemed quite large, but perhaps they grew even larger in my childhood memory. They were plump and round and the tops were formed into thick swirls that were golden tipped, while the insides felt pleasingly soft and chewy. They even had an indentation in the center filled with strawberry or apricot jam. But what I loved most was the rich, distinctly almond flavor and firm, chewy texture of the top layer. That was a cookie to remember, and the memory still lingers with fondness.

Over the years, I've had recurring thoughts of those revered macaroons. Recently, that longing urged me to create a vegan version that could possess that same nostalgic, almost magical, flavor delight. Of course, the macaroons of my childhood were made with eggs and egg whites that were greatly responsible for contributing to the cookie's texture.

After some determined puttering in the kitchen, I was able to present my husband with a macaroon for tasting. He, too, remembered those tasty treats with fondness. After tasting one of my prized macaroons, he totally surprised me and reached for another. My husband, who is not particularly fond of cookies, devoured three of them without pausing! Then he looked up at me and said, "Wow, these are really good!" I counted that as a total success and hope you'll find them equally as pleasing to serve your guests for Passover.

Yes, the texture is vastly different from the macaroons of my memory, but I was able to bring a terrific cookie to the Passover table that delivered tantalizing flavor and a pleasingly chewy texture--a vegan cookie that just may create those same fond memories in families, and especially the children, who enjoy them today.

Passover Macaroons

PASSOVER MACAROONS

Yield: about 26 to 30

    6 tablespoons water
    3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole almonds

    3 cups (720 ml) unsweetened, dried, shredded coconut
    1 cup (240 ml) agave nectar
    1/4 cup (60 ml) unrefined coconut oil
    2 teaspoons almond extract
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Zest of 1 lemon or lime
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Sprigs of fresh mint

  1. Put the water and flaxseed meal in a small bowl and set aside to thicken. Alternatively, put them in a mini blender and process to form viscous slurry, about the texture of a medium-thick sauce. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. (Gas Mark 2) and line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  3. Put the almonds in a food processor and process for 30 to 40 seconds until they form a fine meal, yet still retain a little texture. Transfer the almond meal to a large bowl.
  4. Add the coconut, agave nectar, coconut oil, almond and vanilla extracts, lemon zest, and salt and mix thoroughly to completely moisten the coconut and distribute the ingredients evenly.
  5. Add the thickened flaxseed meal or flaxseed slurry to the coconut mixture and mix well with the hands to distribute it thoroughly.
  6. Form the coconut mixture into ovals about 1 1/2 inches (3.5 cm) long by 1-inch (2.3 cm) wide. Place them 1 1/2-inches (3.5cm) apart on the prepared baking sheet to allow them room to spread slightly during baking.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden in color and the tops are firm when gently pressed.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing the macaroons from the pan, allowing them to firm. Transfer to an attractive serving platter and garnish with a sprig or two of fresh mint.
Note:
If not serving the same day, eliminate the mint, and cover the macaroons with plastic wrap. Store them at room temperature for up to 5 days. For longer storage, put them in a covered container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or the freezer for up to 3 months.


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