Almond cookies

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Easter and Passover fall during the same weekend this year, so why not bake a dessert that fits the bill for both? They're a little like a French Macaron, but with a lot less work. They're also a little merengue-y, but much less tricky and far quicker to bake.

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I first made these Chewy Almond Cookies for the holidays a few years ago. My mom loves a Linzer torte and my father-in-law loves anything with marzipan, but I needed something a bit simpler to add to the cookie tray. The original version called for store-bought almond paste, but it's expensive and sometimes hard to find, so these cookies sub in almond flour (NOT almond meal) and powdered sugar.

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Skipping the almond paste also makes these kosher for Passover because the paste uses some kind of gluten-derived syrup as a sweetener.

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I've fiddled with the technique a bit as well. Adding the egg whites to the food processor first and whizzing them until they're thick and white makes the cookies lighter, airier, and more chewy. You don't need to go for stiff peaks or even soft peaks, but just a frothy milky mixture.

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The only tricky part of this recipe is getting the texture of the batter right. Too thick, and it's hard to pipe, but too thin and the cookies spread out and get too crunchy. You want to be able to run a finger through the batter and the indentation stays put. (See the photo below.)

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The original recipe also calls for raspberry jam, which is delicious. But I used lemon curd here because it felt more springy. Also, it seemed like an apt use of the leftover egg yolks. However, I confess that I've never actually made my own lemon curd before and my first try was...not great. The taste was delicious, but it was entirely too runny. So, I bought some at the grocery store and called it a day. No shame.

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Almond Cookies

2 large eggs, white and yolk separated
1 cup almond meal
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
¼ tsp salt
2 cups sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make 9 small piles of almonds roughly the size of a quarter. Set aside.

Add the egg whites to a food processor. Whiz on high speed until the whites look frothy and milky, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and whiz to combine. The batter will likely form a ball. Keep processing until the ball smoothes back out. If the batter is too thick (stays in a ball after another minute of processing), separate another egg white and yolk and add ½ of the egg white to the batter and process again.

Add the batter to a large zip lock bag or a piping bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.

Once chilled, pipe about 2 Tbsp of batter in a circle over each pile of almonds. The batter will be thick, so feel free to use your fingers to help it out of the bag.  Don’t worry if the batter looks a little wonky because the cookies spread out while baking.

Top with more sliced almonds.

Bake for 5 minutes and rotate the pan. Bake for 5 minutes more. Be careful not to overbake these cookies. They’re done even when they look slightly raw in the middle. You want just a hint of color around the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan and move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 18-20 cookies

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Malted chocolate pavlova

Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlovaMalted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

Pavlova failures abounded this week. Ugh. Half of these photos are from when I gave up trying to make a meringue that didn't fall and just accepted that I'd wasted, like, 20 eggs making these stupid desserts.

But I'll back up: Pavlova! I love meringues and a pavlova is akin to a large meringue that has a softer, more marshmallow-y center. It's a decadent finish to a holiday dinner, but strangely light, which seems appropriate after ham or whatever other heavy things make up your Easter meal. It's also going to be almost 80 degrees here in NYC on Easter Sunday, so a light dessert might be nice. Good planning on my part.

Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

Pavlovas should be easy: They require very few ingredients and very little active cooking time. But, I've learned the hard way (read: after 4 fallen pavlovas), that the technique can be tricky. I've put some lengthy notes below to explain what I did to achieve pavlova success on my 5th try. Victory in our time.

Frothy eggs. Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova
Stiff peaks. Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

I've done A LOT of research on pavlova techniques in the past 14 days. Unfortunately, some of the advice is contradictory (why does that always happen?). In 20 years, when I've made 400 pavlovas, I'll update this post with a foolproof method for cooking them. Until then, here's what worked:

1) Cold egg whites are fine. Using cold eggs are not the secret because I also used cold egg whites in one of my fallen meringues. But I used them in my successful one, so don't worry about bringing them to room temperature before you get started.

2) Whip egg whites at a slower speed for a longer amount of time. I whipped the egg whites on a 4 with my stand mixer and had the best results when aerating the eggs a little more slowly. Using a lower speed also makes it easier to ensure that you whip enough, but not too much.

3) Whip the eggs almost to stiff peaks before adding the sugar. I read this advice on a random Australian listserv (I did a DEEP dive into pavlova-land) and it really helped. All of the other recipes I read told me to add the sugar when the eggs were at soft peaks, but that inevitably led to fallen pavlova. I tried to get some good photos of the soft peak stage, but was scared to stop the mixer, lest my 5th attempt fall too. Basically, you'll know you're at soft peaks when the bubbles that started earlier as froth become really really tiny, the eggs' volume increases, and you can see the tracks from the whisk going through the mixture. Once you get here, keep mixing for a few more minutes before adding the sugar. 

4) Don't overbeat the eggs. Once you've added the sugar, stop whipping as soon as the egg whites start looking glossy and shiny and check to see if you've achieved stiff peaks.

5) Sift the malt powder, chocolate, and cornstarch over the whipped meringue. I worked pretty hard to ensure that nothing deflated those eggs and the only time it worked was when I actually sifted the dry add-ins at the end. I also folded the ingredients together excruciatingly gently and JUST until things are mixed together enough. I left the batter a little streaky because I really didn't want them to deflate.

Mixed together. Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

But fear not. If you're still reading, then you're already committed to making this and good on you. Regardless of what happens with the texture of your pavlova, it'll taste great. This recipe uses a lot less sugar than most because I find most pavlovas awfully sweet. I also love the flavor of malt. While the pavlova itself isn't overwhelmingly malt-y, it has a mild sweetness and chocolate-y flavor that melds perfectly with some lightly sweetened cream and the malted and chocolate candies on top. If I was doing this again, I would also dust the top with malt powder. But if I make another pavlova, my husband might divorce me.

My non-fallen pavlova! Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

Malted pavlova

Adapted from Nigella and Martha

6 egg whites
large pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp malt powder
1 Tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Separate the egg whites and yolks and set the yolks aside. (Be careful! Seriously, no yolks allowed in pavlova.) In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed ("4" on my stand mixer) until they start to get frothy. Add the salt and continue whipping. Look for soft peaks: (in case you didn't read this above) The bubbles that started forming when the eggs got frothy become really tiny, the eggs’ volume increases, and you can see clear tracks where the whisk cuts through the mixture. Continue whisking past this stage (still on speed 4) for about 3-4 more minutes.

Add the sugar in 2-3 Tbsp increments while continuing to whip. After each sugar addition, let your mixer go for about 1 minute to incorporate the sugar. Once your sugar is mixed in, continue whisking until the eggs look glossy and shiny. Stop the mixer and check that you’re at “stiff peaks.” To check: turn the whisk right side up and see if the egg whites stay in a peak or lop over—they should stay in a peak. Add the vinegar and then sift the cornstarch, malt powder, and cocoa over the eggs. Very gently, fold the ingredients together until JUST mixed.

Mound this mixture onto your parchment and smooth down the top a bit, leaving a slight divot in the center. Put in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 300. Cook for 60-70 minutes and then turn off the heat and let cool completely in the oven with the door closed.

The pavlova can be kept, well covered, for 2-3 days before being decorated with the cream and candy.

Whipped cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp sugar
½ Tbsp vanilla extract

Combination of Cadbury chocolate mini eggs and Whoppers malted mini eggs

To assemble: Remove the parchment paper and place the pavlova on your serving dish. Some people like to invert the pavlova and put cream on the underside. I have no preference about this step. Mound the whipped cream on whatever side you like and top with the candy. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova