Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cycling Through Life

Life is a series of cycles. Spring blooms into summer which deepens into autumn and then sheds into winter. My own course is almost as predictable as the seasons. After being with family and friends for a while I automatically yearn for football fields of space. Inevitably a season of social fecundity dries up to a period of drought, when my cell phone's main function is to tell time. And then before long I am sick of myself and ready to hear different voices again.
After a week brimming with family, friends, and food I need to recharge with some alone time. But it was a really great Passover! We infused our seders with some personal expression and meaning. Feeling the aches, pains, and silent strength of generations of Jewish women before me, I inserted the Four Daughter's questions into the evening's program. We set a place at our table for all those who are still not free and said a prayer for the oppressed. A couple of days before the seder I gave the kiddles a Passover performance project: Samwich offered a top ten list of why the Children of Israel left Egypt (" no gefilte fish"). Girlette did a Parting of the Red Sea Dance. OK, fine it all sounds a bit hippie-dippy, and Samwich's lethal eye-roll made it clear that it was a little kooky, but let's be real- the seders can be somewhat dry and academic if you don't do something different now and then.
My seder plate menu went down pretty well, the pre-seder chicken wings were the high point. I have to work on the poached egg on spring greens dish- but it was more of a time management issue than anything else. The apple walnut haroset crumble ended the meal nicely. But for me the most successful Passover experiment was the chocolate macaron whoopie pies. Fluffy marshmallow sandwiched between two airy french macaron cookies. I also stirred up a rich chocolate ganache that I spread between the macarons for a more classically French treat.
I am pleased to report that I now have a flourless chocolate cake that I can rely on. And much like the certainty of the seasons, I gained the Passover Five, which hopefully I will shed as the darling buds of May emerge.

Chocolat Macaron Whoopie Pies:
3/4 c. ground almonds
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 egg white
1/4 c. granulated sugar

Marshmallow Filling

3 tbsp. butter/marg
2 c. marshmallows

Place almonds, powdered sugar, and cocoa in a food processor and pulse for about 10-15 seconds. Sift mixture into a bowl.
Place egg whites in a large bowl and whip until soft peaks occur. Slowly beat in the granulated sugar to make a firm and glossy meringue.
With a spatula, gently fold the almond mixture into the meringue in three portions. When the dry ingredients are incorporated, continue folding the mixture until a shiny batter with a thick ribbonlike consistency results.
Pour into a pastry bag and pipe small circles onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If you don't have a pastry bag, drop small, neat teaspoons onto the baking sheets. Preheat oven to 325F. Let the macarons stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 13-15 mins. Let cool , and then carefully peel the macarons off the paper.

Marshmallow filling: in a medium saucepan melt butter over med. heat, add marshmallows and stir until melted into butter.

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