I suppose that for some folks Passover is a miserable stretch of deprivation. But Passover has always been my favorite holiday. and while I am one of the few nuts out there who actually enjoys matzoh, it’s not just because of the crackers. Well, ok, it’s partially because of the matzoh (egg matzoh spread with good butter and a sprinkle of salt).
Every year I tell myself that I’ll lose a few pounds at Passover, what with skipping all that leavened goodness. But that never seems to happen, in fact quite the opposite. I adore Passover food. Jeff and I have a running joke that all Jews eat is bagels and fish (Jeff even made up a song about bagels and fish – no joke). But even Jeff has to admit that with no bagels allowed, we pull out all the stops and put out a pretty irresistable spread. I can’t say no to brisket or potato kugel. And my mom’s matzoh brei (matzoh dipped in egg and fried in chicken fat) is the stuff of dreams – well, my kind of crazy food-obsessed dreams, anyway. Given that flour is off-limits you might think that Passover desserts are not an issue, but you’d be wrong. Oh, I’ve had my share of icky matzoh-meal brownies and sandy angel food cakes. But then there are the fabulous flourless chocolate cakes, and the coconut macaroons, and the matzoh brittles, and the cheesecakes. And, of course these lovely egg-white concoctions.
I don’t know why I don’t make meringue cookies more often. They are light and delicious, and in the grand scheme of cookies, relatively healthy. And these mini pavlovas are so easy and yet so impressive that they would be the perfect dessert for a back-yard garden party. If you have never made pavlovas, they are truly heaven. Pillowy meringue topped with creamy goodness and sweet fruit. What’s not to love? The key with both the cookies and the pavlovas is quality. With so few ingredients, each one really counts. Use great chocolate for the meringue cookies (you all know my fondness for Green & Blacks) and be sure you have a perfectly ripe mango for the pavlovas. You won’t be sorry.
Chocolate Meringue Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
2 teaspoons matzoh meal (or all-purpose flour)
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Coat two baking sheets with spray, sprinkle with matzoh meal and shake off the excess. In a very clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add in the sugar and continue to beat until glossy. Fold in the chocolate and vanilla. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for one hour and then turn off the oven and let sit for another hour. Cookies will keep a couple of days in an airtight container.
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons potato starch (or corn starch)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large mango, diced
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until glossy. Sprinkle the potato starch over the egg whites, add the lemon zest and juice and the vanilla and fold gently to incorporate. Spoon the egg whites into six mounds on the parchment, creating a slight indentation in the middle of each mound. Bake 50-60 minutes, until slightly golden, and then carefully transfer to a rack to cool. Once fully cooled top each meringue base with a dollop of sour cream and some of the chopped mango. Serve with plenty of napkins as these can get messy!