Friday, March 30, 2007

In Praise of Macaroons

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I love macaroons. It is my favorite cookie and I have yet to have made a decent one. So I am at the mercy of local bakeries when the craving strikes.

To me the ideal macaroon has a delicate golden crust on the outside and a moist chewy center. The addition of coconut is an abomination, but the marriage of chocolate and almonds is a wonderful thing. I love having a mixed assortment of chocolate and plain macaroons.

In high school I used to stop by a local bakeshop at least once a week and get a macaroon. They were large, about 2 ½ inches across and practically melted in your mouth. I didn’t realize until years later how fortunate I was having a local bakery that could produce such a good cookie. I can always spot a good one and I never hesitate to buy them when I find them.

Passover starts next Monday and I have been baking up all sorts of things to use up my flour before Monday (I hate tossing out foodstuffs). Meanwhile I have had a hankering for my beloved macaroons; it is one of the very few cookies that are kosher year round. They are made with eggs, almonds, sugar and NO flour. A delicacy that is perfect for Passover.

A few days ago I was bemoaning the lack of good bakeries and macaroons to Meryl. She pointed out that I could get some Manischewitz brand macaroons, but I told her they were completely unacceptable. They are small, hard and dry, not at all what I would view as a treat. Yesterday I decided to do something about it. I would find an acceptable macaroon in the Richmond metro area. I was going to use my precious child free time to hit as many small bakeries as I could before I had to pick up Max and Rebecca from preschool. The macaroons wouldn’t be kosher for Passover, but at least I would find a local source.

The first one was a bust, they only had coconut macaroons. The second one, Jean Jacque’s, had a delicious version; however the top was studded with almond slivers. I like my macaroons unadorned. They also had a chocolate filled and dipped version, but alas they were not available that day. The third bake shop was where I struck gold. The Westhampton Pastry Shop has a delectable and tiny little macaroon. They are about the size of a vanilla wafer and are full of almond chewy goodness. I got half a pound and I don’t think they will be around much longer. Last night I remembered a little container of chocolate frosting I had tucked away in the fridge. I spread a little bit on a cookie and found heaven. The pastry shop also makes their own donuts and those are a good find too. I think Ill be stopping by again after Passover. I have found my bakery.

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