Print Recipe Before this year, I was never concerned with making nut-free Passover macaroons. This year, for reasons too boring to explain, I have to avoid eating nuts and chocolate during Passover. Being a confirmed nut-lover and chocoholic, that didn’t seem to leave me with a lot of Passover dessert options in my book.
Sure, I’ll make traditional coconut macaroons, but I know that I’ll sorely miss my favorite non-chocolate macaroons – hazelnut spice macaroons in the shape of pyramids. They’re a cute and tasty treat that I look forward to each year since I found them via The Washington Post food section. My solution is nut-free Passover macaroons inspired by those hazelnut delights.
If you’re not familiar with Passover check the FAQs in What to Expect at Your First Passover Seder. For purposes of this post, all you have to know is that we don’t eat leavened bread during the Passover holiday. Instead, we substitute matzo, a flat cracker made with flour and water. Although baking powder and soda are not prohibited, most Passover desserts do not call for them. Passover cookies and cakes tend to use eggs for leavening, as in sponge cakes and macaroons. And, while some Passover desserts use matzo cake meal instead of flour, ground nuts are a common substitute for wheat flour.
My Ashkenazic Jewish family did not eat kitniyot when I was growing up. Kitniyot is a food group commonly understood to include legumes, rice, beans, corn, millet and seeds. But recent changes have made kitniyot permissible for Reform and Conservative Ashkenazic Jews in America and I’m glad to have more ingredients to cook with and enjoy during Passover. (Sephardic Jews traditionally have not observed the prohibition against kitniyot.)
In the case of these nut-free Passover macaroons, I’ve taken advantage of the relaxation in the rules to include corn flakes. Crushed and mixed with brown sugar, as in sweet noodle kugel or pudding, corn flakes help give these cookies a crunchy quality that is at least reminiscent of nuts. With coconut, several spices, and orange and lemon rind, they are tasty without being overly sweet.
According to the Passover story, the Jews built pyramids when enslaved in Egypt. While it may not be historically accurate, the symbolism of pyramids as structures of oppression is powerful and worth preserving.
How to Make Nut-Free Passover Macaroons Shaped Like Pyramids
- Chill the corn flake/matzo/coconut mixture. Otherwise it isn’t easy to mold.
- Make loosely-formed small balls out of the mixture.
- Press each ball into a triangle. Put your thumbs together at the base and your forefingers on either side. Then build up the sides slightly to a point at the top.
Nut-Free Passover Macaroons
Shaped like small pyramids, these macaroons have a Middle Eastern aroma and a slight crunch that makes them perfect with coffee, tea, or other beverage.
- 2 cups (heaping) corn flakes (about 2 1/4- 2 1/2 ounces)
- 1 1/2 sheets matzo (about 2 3/4 ounces)
- 1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
Crush the corn flakes into small, pebbly pieces. The easiest way is to put the cornflakes in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin or bottle to crush them. The result should be about 1 cup of crushed pieces.
Crush the matzo in the same way. Again, the result should be about 1 cup of crushed pieces.
Combine the corn flake and matzo pieces, the coconut and the dark brown sugar. Mix them together well. I like to do it with my hands, but a fork works too.
Mix the eggs, spices, and orange and lemon rind. Then add them to the dry ingredients, using a spatula to turn them over until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate the mixture until well chilled - at least 1 hour. About 20 minutes before taking the mixture out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Form the pyramid shapes (see post for details) and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 12-14 to a sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, once cookie sheet at a time, until the macaroons are just slightly browned on the edges. Cool them on a rack until you can easily move them to a container. Store loosely covered. (A tight cover overnight will make them lose their crisp outer shell.)