Cinnamon Balls and Coconut Pyramids – Recipe

Passover starts tomorrow night. I've given you some recipes from my Chinese/ Malay side; now it's time for some from my Jewish side!

Passover, or Pesach, celebrates the time when Moses freed the Jews from slavery under the tyrannical rule of the Pharaoh. It took some heavy persuasion- The Big Guy Up There had to help twist the Pharaoh's arm with a a plague or ten. Lots of pretty gnarly stuff went down, like blood, death and frogs (don't know why I chose frogs as my last example), but eventually he let them go. Of course, he was a bit of an arsehat and decided to chase them down afterwards, but he got his comeuppance- just watch The Ten Commandments or The Prince of Egypt. Man I love those films.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, the Jews didn't have time to bake any proper bread before high-tailing it out of the Pharaoh's lands, and got stuck with matzo- that flat, dry, mottled and burned-looking stuff that us Jews often eat and somehow enjoy. The icing on the cake is that, during the week of Passover, Jews can't eat normal bread. Or cake. Or biscuits. Or certain types of cereal or breaded chicken/ fish. Nothing with raising agents, or any types of grains our ancestors couldn't use in the rush to GTFO of there, can be eaten.

Does that mean we stop baking for a week? Like hell it does.

Two sweets most traditionally made during passover are cinnamon balls and coconut macaroons, which don't need flour or baking powder. Cinnamon balls are cake balls made from ground almonds, and coconut macaroons are made from... yeah. This year I made cinnamon balls and coconut pyramids, the latter of which uses whole eggs instead of just egg whites. Cinnamon balls are brilliantly quick and easy to make. Coconut pyramids are easy but not as quick- shaping them can get a little messy, but if you have eggcups to mould them with, it's not so bad.

I always use the same recipes for these from a book I was given as a Bat Mitzvah gift: the The Essential Jewish Festival Cookbook by Evelyn Rose. I know I usually mess with recipes, but these have a somewhat sentimental value as I've been making them since I was 13 years old, so I've done them by the book. Okay, maybe I took a few liberties decorating them with melted chocolate, but old habits die hard.

Cinnamon Balls

- 2 egg whites
- 125g/ 4oz caster sugar
- 225g/ 8oz ground almonds
- 1tsp cinnamon
- small bowl of icing sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/ Gas Mark 3, and line a baking tray with baking parchment (grease the parchment for good measure, too).

2) Whip the egg whites up until stiff and white- just like you'd do for a meringue.

3) Stir in everything else.

4) With wet hands, form the mixture into walnut-sized balls (I managed to get 20 out of this recipe), and space out evenly on your baking sheet. You'll want to keep a little bowl of water close by so you can wet your hands in between ball-shaping.

5) Bake for 20mins until lightly browned and firm to the touch, and take them out to cool for a minute or so.

6) Roll balls in icing sugar when they're still warm (the book says to do this a second time when they're cold, but I see no need to).

Coconut Pyramids

- 2 eggs
- 125g/ 4oz caster sugar
- juice and zest of half a lemon
- 225g/ 8oz dessicated coconut

1) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C/ Gas Mark 5 and line and grease a baking tray.

2) Beat the eggs and sugar until light, foamy and pale.

3) Stir in everything else.

4) Use an egg cup wetted with cold water to form the mixture into mounds, tip them out onto your hand, mould them a bit more as you like and arrange on the baking tray. (As with the cinnamon balls, keep a bowl of water handy so you can keep dipping into it.)

5) Bake for about 20mins- be careful not to let the tops burn (put an extra sheet of baking parchment over the top if they're browning too much but still need more time).

According to the book, you can freeze these for up to three months, or else just store in an airtight container for a week- if they last that long.

I made these today, but I've forbidden anyone from eating any until after the Seder tomorrow night, once Passover has officially begun- including myself. Damn. Oh, well. I'm looking forward to enjoying them with a good, strong cup of coffee.


  1. The measurements for the ground almonds and cinnamon in the cinnamon balls are incorrect. It should read 225g ground almonds and a tablespoon of cinnamon.

  2. Last year my cinnamon balls were flat as pancakes and this year I sent this blog to my friend who had the same problem. We thought it was our fault, but I have just realised it says 125g ground almonds instead of 225g. Please can you amend it? Thank you, Pesach Sameach xx


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