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I think each of us ought to take a few minutes out of our busy week to speak of the macaroon. Underappreciated, sometimes even maligned, this delicious cookie is trotted out by Jews (and their confused and well meaning gentile seder guests) each Passover as an almost mournful nod to our need for sweets even at a time of flour denial.
I believe we must stop this needless sidelining of this delicious confection immediately, and welcome it to our tables all the year around. (I also support the making of a Bûche de Noël in August.) I am referring specifically today to the French style cookies, although I have been known to down a canned coconut macaroon, discovered at the bottom of my pantry when I was in search of soba noodles, because I simply don’t feel shame.
I decided to take on the fall macaroon in honor of our neighborhood block party. First of all, block party, who knew? In Los Angeles our neighbors tended to speak to one another only in the event of a series of home invasions, or when one resident around the block was flaunting some sort of petition designed to keep people with inexpensive cars from parking on the block, which was controversial and did not involve refreshments. In Manhattan there were block parties, or so I was told, but they always seemed to happen in neighborhoods I never lived.
So in honor of this exciting development in our family life, I fixated on Oreo Macaroons, a recipe I thought would perhaps please the residents of our Northwest D.C. neighborhood -- sufficiently exciting without taking on the pretensions of, say, a pie with an elaborately-braided crust.
This may not be your idea of a weeknight recipe, and that’s fair. But it is a Sunday afternoon: do the steps in between loads of laundry, and I promise it is worth it. If you follow the steps exactly as drbabs instructs you, the amazing thing is they will come out just as she promised, down to the number of cookies it makes.
The mixing up of the dough needs to be done at a high speed, and may take a minute or two longer than you expected to form peaks. Just scrape down and keep going. Try to make them as uniform in shape as possible, because you do want them to cook evenly, and as importantly, to match one of their cookie friends when it comes times to sandwich them. I was suspicious of the need to let the cookies rest on the pan 30 minutes before putting them in, but I did it, and the cookie came out perfectly. (I was out of espresso powder so I skipped that step, leaving me with a distinctly chocolate flavored batter.)
As they cooled, I quickly mixed up the frosting, which takes all of three minutes. I chose to omit the almond extract in lieu of other flavors. I worried a little bit about being that neighbor who everyone remembers as bringing cardamom cookies to the block party, and having some children leave little spit bits of them in the moonwalk, so while I was curious as to how that would taste, I settled on cinnamon. Our author does not say how much extra flavor you should add, I went for a teaspoon.
You will have just enough frosting for a generous dollop on each sandwich cookie plus a teaspoon to lick off a spoon absently, as your children ask you if there is any left and you direct them to the deck of cards they left on the floor.
These cookies are so fun to make, and really although they take longer than your standard bake sale fare, are 100 times more special. I am now going to walk the remaining 11 of them down the block, and will report the results next week.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.