In the kitchen (just like anywhere else), sometimes you’re on and sometimes you’re off. Ever since I pulled those glorious pizzas out of our oven on Saturday night, I’ve been off. Oh-eff-eff. In the five days since those pizzas, nothing I’ve made has come out quite right and much of what I’ve made has involved bodily injury. I added too much buttermilk to my almond poppy seed bread batter, which produced a cratered, u-shaped (but still entirely delicious) loaf. I nearly hacked off the top third of my thumb while I was slicing—get this—fingerling potatoes for a salad on Monday night. (It’s okay, you can laugh at the pun; I did.) My lentil soup the other day became runny and over-blended, so each day this week, I’ve slurped down what feels like baby food for lunch.
By Tuesday night, I’d had enough. Kevin, blissfully, said he’d make dinner: black bean-tomato soup. The soup turned out beautifully, but not before I couldn’t resist getting involved. I just had to move the pot to my “favorite” burner (does anyone else have one of those?), sans oven mitts, completely forgetting that the handles of our Dutch oven are not insulated. Burn. Ouch. Finger tips have lost all feeling (and thumb is still band-aided to the hilt; see first paragraph).
But the kicker of this unlucky streak was the Passover-friendly cheesecake I made on Tuesday night. It had been a long, stressful day at work and, frankly, I wasn’t all that excited about the project. You know it’s been a bad day when even a pound of cream cheese cannot manage to excite you.
Well, my mood was reflected in the cheesecake results. The cake huffed-and-puffed so tall in the oven that it not only fissured deeply, but it also rose above the edges of my pan, causing portions of the cake to drop off all together. I cannot describe how ugly it was and there was no way—no way—I could bring myself to take a photo. I put it on a baking rack and went to bed long before 10 p.m. I woke up at 4 a.m. and sneaked out to the kitchen to take a look. Still bad. Very bad. Worse. Put it in the fridge and tried to sleep until my alarm would sound at 5:45. Did not succeed.
At 5:45, I padded back out to the kitchen and peered into the fridge. Oh, terrible. Awful. How is it worse? Against my better judgment, I unhinge the outer ring of the cake pan and take a serrated knife to the cake, attempting to shave off the blemished top third. Worst idea ever. Fail. Disaster. Full-blown disaster.
I brought it to my in-laws’ seder anyway, using a crown of fresh berries (not yet in season, I know, but it was an emergency!) as a half-hearted disguise. Which brings me to macaroons—the subject of this post, though you rightfully might not have caught onto that quite yet. You see, I made the macaroons on Saturday, pre-pizza, pre-mojo-losing. So they came off without a hitch (or an injury). And they were my saving grace, not just at the seder (Kevin’s dad wins for biggest fan) but all week long, serving as the salve to my kitchen wounds (both literal and figurative). They were fun to make (basically, you’re making snowballs; the results are just more delicious), lovely to look at (kind of like pristine little haystacks, tidy but still a bit muppet-ish the stray threads of coconut), and wonderful to taste (slightly sweetened, vanilla-scented, draped in chocolate).
This recipe comes from Molly Wizenberg‘s beautiful memoir A Homemade Life. She’s got a nearly identical version of the recipe on her blog, which is where I direct you for the recipe. The only change I made was to use unsweeteened coconut (all I could find at my store) and to compensate by boosting the sugar a bit. Make them now, for Passover or otherwise, or save them for the next time you’re off your kitchen game.