Summer is a time for cookbook launches in the UK and over the last few months I have added many books to my collection. Perhaps the most exciting of all was ‘At Home’, the latest cookbook by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, co-founders of Honey & Co. restaurant.
I was very excited to receive a copy of At Home, a book about the dishes that Itamar and Sarit love to prepare out of the restaurant kitchen.
I was also invited to the book launch in London, where I drank wine and partied with Itamar and Sarit, two of the friendliest restaurant hosts you’ll find in London! I tasted dishes from the book and one that stuck with me was the marunchinos. I knew it would be the first recipe I’d make from At Home!
A few words of introduction to Honey & Co., a tiny diner in Fitzrovia serving traditional, homey Middle Eastern food. Both founders worked at Ottolenghi (Itamar headed the Kitchen and Sarit headed the pastry section) before setting up their own business. The restaurant received many, well deserved accolades. Since then, Itamar and Sarit have published three cookbooks, opened a little deli called Honey & Spice and a bigger restaurant and grill house called Honey & Smoke.
I remember the first time I visited Honey & Co. for lunch and how it was love at first sight (or shall I say, at first spoonful). It was my first introduction to Middle Eastern food (which I appreciate is a vague term as it include many cuisines from different countries and regions of the Levant). Now we have many restaurants in London that serve this type of cuisine (like Yosma or The Good Egg), but back in 2012 there weren’t that many. It was also at Honey & Co. that I tasted one of my favourite cakes, Chocolate Babka Cake, for the first time!
Marunchinos are almond macaroons traditionally baked by the Sephardi Jewish community during Passover. I have read that during Passover you are not allowed to eat leavened bread and wheat, so perhaps that’s why this macaroon recipe came to be.
Honey & Co.’s marunchinos remind me a lot of the Sicilian almond cookies I made last year, after all the recipes are quite similar in the way they use ground almonds and egg whites. The marunchinos however are much lighter, with a light crunch on the outside and a chewy centre.
I find the addition of chopped dried apricots a genius idea! It adds a sweet and tangy flavour to the otherwise overly-sweet almond macaroon. The fruit pieces also give a nice texture to the soft cookie, something more to bite into.
Please Note: I made a few amends to the ingredients, specifically I used regular honey instead of orange blossom honey and I used more apricots than in the original recipe.
Makes approximately 16-18 cookies
- 250g ground almonds
- 250g icing sugar, plus about 150g to coat
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 medium egg whites (about 90g)
- 90g dried apricots, chopped
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and mix together. Add all the remaining ingredients (save some icing sugar for coating to macaroons later). Combine to a smooth and wet mixture. Cover and place in a the fridge to set for about 30-60 minutes.
Pour icing sugar over a plate or small bowl. Scoop out the dough and shape into balls of about 40g each. Roll each ball in the icing sugar to fully coat them. The book recommends to pinch each ball between the thumb and forefinger on both hands to give is a star shape.
Place the balls on the baking trays and set aside to dry for an hour or two. Don’t skip this step as it’s essential to obtain a nice macaroon crust and those pretty cracks in the icing sugar coating.
Heat the oven to 180°C fan. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the trays and bake for a further 2-3 minutes until light golden. Let the macaroons cool down on the tray before transferring them to an airtight container. I stored them at room temperature for about 5-6 days.
Disclaimer: I received my copy of At Home as a gift. All opinions are my own.