Because flour (and any leavener for that matter) is a no-go during Passover, Jewish bakers far and wide have had to get creative with seder desserts. Instead of the expected flourless chocolate cake, we recommend you experiment with meringue cookies. By simply baking whipped egg whites and sugar, you get crunchy cookies, sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Here, chef Jenn Louis of Lincoln in Portland, Oregon, shares her recipe for these crunchy meringue cookies laced with whole hazelnuts and a hint of vanilla and cinnamon. The best part: a rhubarb and Manischewitz wine (yep, we love sweet wine, too) conserva is then spooned over top.
It's also the perfect time of year to make meringue cookies (humidity is the sworn enemy to whipped egg whites). The steady stream of sugar when whipping the egg whites is what ensures a fluffy and glossy meringue, so take your time. Then after baking, let the cookies cool completely in the oven to dry out. The conserva will soften them up when you serve it all together.
To learn more, read "For the Seder Good."
Hazelnut Meringue Cookies with Manischewitz and Rhubarb Conserva
Recipe adapted from Jenn Louis, Lincoln, Portland, OR
Yield: 24 cookies and 2 cups conserva
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus overnight cooling
Total Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes, plus overnight cooling
For the Meringue Cookies:
7 egg whites
2½ cups granulated sugar
1 pound whole hazelnuts, toasted and partially skinned
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Manischewitz-Rhubarb Conserva:
¾ cup red wine
¾ cup Manischewitz wine
¾ cup sugar
½ tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, zested with a peeler
½ pound (2 medium stalks) rhubarb, small dice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1. Make the meringue cookies: Preheat the oven to 300° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually stream in the sugar and continue whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form.
2. Remove the bowl from mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the hazelnuts, vanilla and cinnamon. Using a ⅓ cup scoop, drop 12 dollops of batter onto each baking sheet, 1 inch apart.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200° and continue to bake for another 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cookies to completely cool in the oven, preferably overnight.
4. Meanwhile, make the conserva: In a medium saucepan, combine the red and Manischewitz wines, sugar, coriander and anise seeds, cinnamon stick and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly reduced so that the syrup coats the back of a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Strain the syrup and return to the pot, discarding the solids. Return the syrup to a simmer and add the rhubarb. Cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and salt. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
6. The next day, divide the cookies between plates and spoon the conserva over top, then serve.