On the Jewish food scene: Coconut cookies for Passover

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Several years ago, I attended a Passover dessert cooking class at my synagogue. We broke into small groups to make three or four different desserts, all of which we tasted afterward. The chef who taught us looked at me a little strangely when I said I was never going to make any of the recipes at home. (She probably wondered why I was there if I wasn’t interested in cooking. If she’d asked, I would have told her that I enjoyed spending time with the women in my Sisterhood and certainly wasn’t going to complain about an event that included food.) The dessert my group made was coconut macaroons and, while they were pretty tasty, I’ve never made them again. 

That means if I want a dessert with my Passover meals, I either have to depend on the kindness of friends who bake or look for ready-made desserts in the grocery store. When I was young, there were two kinds of desserts on the table: canned macaroons or my mom’s kosher for Passover sponge cake. (I have no idea where the recipe for that cake is.) My older brother’s birthday sometimes fell during the holiday so that was his birthday cake. Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of kosher for Passover desserts available in stores that mimic regular non-Passover desserts. And each year, companies compete to make new and interesting ones.

So, I was pleased to get an e-mail about two new variations of kosher for Passover coconut cookies. The company, Absolutely Gluten Free, offers gluten free, kosher (certified by the Orthodox Union as kosher pareve for Passover), dairy free, vegan and all natural “Grain Free Coconut Chews,” which are made in a peanut-free facility. The individually wrapped chews contain sulfite-free raw coconut and are dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. The new flavors are key lime (which offered a very strong blast of key lime) and blueberry (which, although I didn’t get a great deal of blueberry flavor, were my favorite). The original flavors, which I have not tried, are cranberry and chocolate.

What’s fun is that the chews remind me of one of my favorite childhood foods. My grandparents spent a few months every winter in Florida. Of course, they sent us the obligatory package of citrus fruit. While I love oranges and grapefruit, we always had those in our refrigerator so they weren’t a special treat. What we didn’t have, though, were the coconut patties that were included with each shipment. Those patties consisted of a flat coconut cookie dipped in dark chocolate. These new chews are basically a healthier variation of those patties. 

So, if you don’t make your own Passover desserts and are looking for something a little different, these coconut chews are a nice change of pace from the standard canned macaroon. Anyone who needs a dessert with no dairy, no eggs and no gluten, and which is all natural, will find these cookies a great match.