This blog posting is a little late. I thought about not including it, but then thought that it is such an important topic that I have to have it. Passover desserts. They are usually so awful. Even the expensive ones you find in the supermarket are awful. When you consider yourself a connoisseur of baked goods and you are faced with the selection at Passover, it is really hard to accept.
I have been on a mission to make really good desserts for Passover. This year, I made 3 of them. First, I made Chocolate Macaroons, a winner from last year’s menu. Second, I made a chocolate chip biscotti. And third, I made a Passover Chocolate Cake. I will include all the recipes here.
First the Chocolate Macaroons. This recipe was adapted from Doris Schechter and is found in The New York Times Passover Cookbook. As mentioned, this was the second year I made it because everyone loved it last year. It is super easy and very good.
CHOCOLATE MACAROONS - pareve – adapted from Doris Schechter
1 2/3 cups blanched almonds (8 ounces)
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Grind the almonds in a food processor, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Alternately fold in the sugar and ground almonds; then gently fold in the melted chocolate and the coconut. Drop from a teaspoon onto the lined cookie sheets, leaving 1/2 inch between macaroons. Bake 20 minutes.
The only changes I made were to use blanched slivered almonds and to use a small ice cream scoop to equally portion out the macaroons onto the baking sheet.
The second recipe is Biscotti de Pesach della Mamma from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook. While I had all kinds of problems with forming the dough, the end result was a delicious cookie.
I think my problems stemmed from not paying attention to the consistency of the batter while adding in the matzah cake meal. The directions call for 3 cups, and I stopped at about 2 1/2 cups, but I should have stopped at around 2 cups. As a result, my dough was so loose that it would not form a firm cylinder, even after I refrigerated them. I ended up breaking up the dough cylinders in a bowl and adding enough oil so they would stay together. Then I reformed and refrigerated them. This time they stayed together enough to be baked the first time. I still lost about 1/2 of them to crumbs after slicing the log for the second bake, and a few more after that. The ones that remained intact were really good.
Biscotti de Pesach della Mamma – from Edda Servi Machlin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 large eggs
3 cups matzah cake meal (probably more like 2 cups needed)
1 cup whole almonds
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate chopped into small pieces (My addition)
1. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle or by hand, cream together the sugar, salt, oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
2. Add enough matzah cake meal to make a soft but manageable dough. (This is where you have to watch the dough consistency and not add to much cake meal). Fold in the whole almonds. ( I used slivered, but whole would have looked better).
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. (I used parchment paper instead).
4. Spoon the dough onto an oiled work surface and divide into 3 parts. Oil your hands and shape the dough into 3 cylinders, each 15 inches long. Place on the cookie sheet and bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes. (This is where I put the cylinders into the refrigerator for a few hours before baking. I preheated the oven before removing from the refrigerator).
5. Remove from the oven. Raise the temperature to 450 degrees. Slice through each cylinder diagonally, making approxiately 20 slices per cylinder. Lay the slices flat on a greased baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 more minutes.
6. Cool the biscotti thoroughly before storing.
The third recipe is Passover Chocolate Cake by Ann Amernick. This recipe is also found in Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook. As she wrote in the cookbook, the key to this cake is the quality of the chocolate used. With this in mind, I was not going to use my regular Baker’s chocolate bar.
Instead, I went over to Sur La Table to see what they had to offer. They sell Guittard and Valrhona. I picked up a bar of the Valrhona and saw it was $13. Then I remembered I had a $10 off coupon from SLT (I guess I am considered a good customer). So I got this really fancy bar of chocolate for $3. Hurray for me!!!
This cake was delicious. I did not use the brandy because I did not want to go out and buy it. It probably would have been a nice addition. I did make my own whipped cream and served the cake with it and strawberries. This is a definite for next year.
Chocolate Passover Cake – from Ann Amernick
10 ounces good imported bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (I used an almost 9oz bar of 68% Valhrona, plus 1 oz Bakers semi sweet chocolate)
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter or pareve margarine, * at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling (I forgot the sprinkling part)
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup finely ground almonds (done in a food processor)
2 tablespoons kosher-for-Passover brandy (I did not use this)
Whipped cream (optional)
Fresh raspberries (optional) (I used strawberries)
* You can use pareve margarine, but Ann would not
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and grease well a 9-inch springform pan; line the bottom with baking parchment.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water. When the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat and leave it over the hot water to cool slowly.
3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter or margarine with 1/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture is fluffy and almost white. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 minute. Add the almonds and brandy and beat for 2 minutes more.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until light and foamy while gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating the whites until they are stiff and shiny.
5. Add the cooled melted chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and mix well with a rubber spatula until well combined. Fold one quarter of this chocolate mixture into the egg whites, then gently fold this egg white mixture back into the (bowl) of the chocolate mixture, taking care not to deflate the batter.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out covered with a thick, moist (not wet), and crumby coating.
7. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Loosen the edges with a knife, remove the sides, and carefully turn the cake upside down onto a plate. Remove the baking parchment. Sprinkle with the sugar.
8. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with whipped cream and raspberries on the side, if desired. (I used strawberries)
Be really careful with the whipped egg whites when folding them and when transferring them between containers. If they are handled roughly, they will deflate.
That’s it. These are 3 great Passover desserts. Try them!