You Won’t Believe These Are Passover Desserts!
The Passover cakes I remember from my childhood were almost always sponge cakes. The number of eggs in the cake would depend on whose recipe my mother would decide to try that year. Her biggest challenge was to create a cake that would reach the top of her tube pan. She might use anywhere from 8 to 10 eggs, sometimes up to a dozen in her sponge cakes, always striving to reach new heights. My mother always made her sponge cake with a combination of cake meal and potato starch. She hated the taste of potato starch in a cake. “Pheh!” she would mutter under her breath when one of her friends would offer her a slice.
Mom’s mixmaster was always put to good use during Passover - her mile-high cakes were light and wonderful and always disappeared quickly. If we were lucky enough to have leftover sponge cake, slices would be transformed into “Passover French toast.” No wonder that 15 dozen eggs were never enough for the 8 days of Pesach!
Passover cakes are somewhat challenging to make because they are made without flour. Their fragile structure is based on whipping the egg whites until they triple in volume to become a fluffy meringue. Then the delicate white clouds are gently folded into the egg yolks that have been beaten with sugar until they’re a pale golden yellow. My mother would carefully fold in the potato starch/cake meal mixture. She liked to add a little lemon or orange juice and sometimes folded in grated chocolate to add a special touch. Then we were sent outside to play while the cake baked “so it won’t fall in!” I still think that was her way of having a few minutes of peace from her children.
Today I received a phone call from the niece of a cousin of my late father. “What’s the best recipe for a Pesadick sponge cake?” “No problem,” I replied. Just make my Mother’s Passover Cake.” She said she would - and you should too!
I’ve also included my recipe for Mustachudos, a delicious gluten-free cookie that only requires four ingredients. It’s one of my favourite cookie recipes. Nothing could be easier - there’s no separating of eggs or beating of egg whites – and you can’t beat that! I hope you enjoy this wonderful Turkish delight that was shared by two “pan pals” from the other side of the globe, Helen Berg of Australia and the late Raya Tarab of Israel.
And last, but not least, some scrumptuous recipes from Penny Eisenberg and Tamar Ansh. Penny Eisenberg has been a caterer and cooking instructor for over 20 years. Her specialties include desserts of all kinds including dairy-free, Jewish and low-fat desserts, Jewish cooking and bread baking. Penny is the author of two cookbooks: Light Jewish Holiday Desserts and Passover Desserts. I was delighted to learn that she just did a complete re-write of Passover Desserts, which is available only on CD-Rom. The updated recipes are easier to make for today’s lifestyle and they’re also easier to use (no flipping from page to page). Penny also added 50 new photos and drawings. For more information, visit her website at http://www.pennyeisenberg.com. Her show-stopping fudge torte is guaranteed to please the guests at your table!
Israeli cookbook author Tamar Ansh, the author of “Pesach - Anything's Possible!" kindly shared a wonderful cheesecake recipe with me from her new book. Tamar wrote, “This is one great cheesecake recipe and you needn't make it only for Pesach. It serves so well, I'm sure you will want to use it again on Shavuot, on long summer afternoons, or at family gatherings. Depending on the time of year, you can arrange different fruit toppings on it, other than what I have done here with blueberries.”
Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author, cooking teacher and food consultant based in Toronto, Canada. Her latest book is NORENE’S HEALTHY KITCHEN: Eat YOUR Way to Good Health (Whitecap). For information about her cookbooks, cooking demonstrations and culinary services, call 416-226-2466 or visit her website at http://www.gourmania.com
MY MOTHER’S PASSOVER CAKE
Source: The Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)
An electric mixer is needed to make this cake, but use your processor to “grate” the chocolate. You will need 2 large mixing bowls for this recipe.
3 ounces chilled bittersweet chocolate bsr
1/2 cup almonds (optional)
9 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cake meal
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Steel Blade: Break chocolate into 1-inch chunks. Process until fine, about 30 seconds. Add almonds, if using. Process until almonds are finely chopped, 12 to 15 seconds longer.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sugar and water and beat on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes. Combine potato starch and cake meal. Sprinkle over yolk mixture a little at a time (a sifter or strainer will help) and fold in carefully. Then fold in grated chocolate and nuts. Wash beaters thoroughly and dry well.
In another large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with salt until stiff but not dry. Carefully fold into batter. Pour gently into ungreased 10-inch tube pan (do NOT bake this in a Bundt pan or you won’t be able to get it out of the pan properly). Batter should come to within 1 1/2 inches of top of pan. If necessary, make a 2-inch collar of foil around top of pan.
Bake for 1 hour, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes. Invert immediately and cool completely.
Yield: 12 servings. Freezes well.
Source: The Food Processor Bible (Whitecap Books)
This gluten-free cookie is perfect all-year round.
3 cups almonds (or a mixture of walnuts and pecans)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Steel Blade: Process almonds using on/off pulses, until coarsely chopped, about 30 seconds. (Walnuts and pecans will take less time.) Don’t grind nuts too fine or you will have nut butter! Empty bowl. Process sugar with eggs and cinnamon until well mixed, about 25 to 30 seconds. Add nuts and process 10 to 15 seconds longer to combine. Mixture will be like a thick paste.
2. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. When done, cookies will be oatmeal-colored, with lightly browned edges. However, they will be slightly soft and not look fully baked. Do not remove cookies from pan until completely cooled. They will firm up as they cool. If baked until firm, they will be too hard when they cool completely.
Yield: 4 to 5 dozen. Freezes well.
PENNY EISENBERG’S CHOCOLATE FUDGE TORTE
Source: Passover Desserts (CD-Rom edition)
This rich torte has a smooth, creamy texture that just melts in the mouth. A small amount of matzo cake meal has been added to give it a bit of body, but those who don’t use matzo cake meal for Passover can leave it out. The cake must be prepared 1 day in advance.
Pareve or Dairy
Makes 16 to 20 servings
20 ounces pareve Passover semisweet chocolate, chopped
10 Tbsp unsalted pareve Passover margarine or butter, room temperature
6 large eggs, room temperature, separated
2 tsp matzo cake meal (leave out if you don't eat matzo meal on Passover)
2 Tbsp sugar
Passover Richwhip®, thawed and whipped, or whipped cream
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with a shelf in the middle of the oven. Grease a 10-inch round spring form pan. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with several layers of extra long heavy-duty foil, bringing the edges up over the rim of the pan to secure it. Have ready another baking pan large enough to hold the 10-inch round with space around to hold water. Boil water in a pot or tea kettle and set aside.
2. Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe container. Heat on medium power (5) for 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat in 15-second bursts, until the chocolate is melted, stirring to blend the chocolate and margarine together (can also be done in a double-boiler). Using a wire whisk, whisk the egg yolks just to blend. With an electric mixer on low, beat them into the chocolate a little at a time. Beat in the matzo cake meal.
3. Place egg whites in a clean grease-free bowl. Using clean grease-less beaters beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy throughout and no longer translucent. Increase speed to high, gradu¬ally add the sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff but not dry.
4. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter and then gently fold in the remaining whites. Transfer to the prepared 9-inch round pan.
5. Place the pan into the larger pan, and pour boiling water around the pan to come 1/2 way up the sides of the 9-inch pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the surface dulls, but the cake still looks uncooked in the center. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.
Although the torte can be served whole, topped with whipped topping and chocolate shavings, it is messy to cut and looks prettiest when cut before presenting. Have a pitcher of warm water and a towel handy. Make a cut and rock the knife side to side to make space for its removal. Dip the knife into the warm water, wipe dry and make the second cut. Make small pieces as the cake is very rich. Repeat with the rest of the torte. Arrange the sections in a circle on a platter, with a small space between each wedge. If desired, pipe whipped topping onto each piece, and then sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Shavings can be made using a vegetable peeler and a cold block of chocolate.
* The frozen cake may be defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. Let it stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.
* You can make it up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it or freeze it for up to 3 months.
VANILLA PAREVE PASSOVER ICE CREAM
One standard way of making vanilla ice cream is to chill and freeze a rich custard. This method does not work well with non-dairy ingredients, so I’ve created a method that’s easier and makes a very creamy ice cream. Adjust the amount of sugar and vanilla to get the taste that is perfect for you.
Makes 5 cups.
3 large pasteurized eggs (for regular eggs, see Tips below)
1-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise with one end still attached
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup pareve Passover creamer
1-1/4 cups Passover Richwhip®, thawed
1. Put the eggs (in the shell) into a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes (this will heat the eggs to warmer than room temperature). Break two of the eggs into a large mixer bowl. Separate the remaining egg, discard the white and add the yolk to the bowl. Whisk in the vanilla bean, sugar and corn syrup. With a balloon whisk attachment, on medium-high, beat the egg mixture until it triples in volume, and comes to room temperature (about 5 to 7 minutes). Remove the vanilla bean, and scrape the seeds into the egg mixture. Beat in the creamer.
2. Pour the Richwhip® into a small mixer bowl. Beat on high speed until the Richwhip® forms soft peaks (or just until mounding if you prefer ice cream that freezes harder). Fold this into the egg mixture.
3. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker (I use an inexpensive Cuisinart® ice cream maker) and process according to manufacturer's instructions. (It's okay if the mixture fills the freezing container completely because it will deflate as it is churned, not inflate the way regular ice cream does). After 30 minutes, if your machine has a removable freezer container, remove the dasher and place the container of ice cream into the freezer. Giving it a few folds every fifteen minutes, freeze the ice cream for another hour until it starts to firm up and look like regular ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and ccontinue to freeze for several hours until it is the texture you like.
For pasteurized eggs, look for Davidson’s® eggs, in the shell.
If using regular eggs, mix together the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla bean, sugar, honey, and 3 tablespoons of the creamer in a shallow metal bowl (reserve the remaining creamer to add in later). Simmer 1-inch of water in a skillet. Have a rubber scraper, instant-read thermometer, a timer and a large mixer bowl near the stove. Place the shallow bowl into the simmering water and cook the egg mixture to 160 F (30 to 60 seconds), rapidly stirring with a rubber scraper and checking the temperature every 15 seconds (beating the mixture over hot water for 7 minutes, and then off-heat until cool, also works). Transfer the mixture to a large mixer bowl and beat until cool.
TAMAR ANSH’S LUSCIOUS CHEESECAKE
Source: Pesach – Anything’s Possible (Targum Press)
7 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups low fat cream cheese (OR 500 g Israeli soft 5% white cheese)
1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp potato starch
Preheat oven to 350 F /180C.
Whip egg whites until they begin to turn white; add in 1 cup of the sugar and continue beating until it is a semi stiff snow. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until thick. Add the cream cheese, lemon juice, sour cream, and potato starch and beat until smooth. By hand, fold the egg whites into this mixture. Pour the batter out into a 9 x 13–inch pan OR a 10 inch round lined spring form pan.
Bake for 50 minutes until golden on top and firm. Turn off the oven but DO NOT remove the cake yet! Leave it sit in the oven until the oven is cool. Remove it carefully and let it finish cooling.
This slices and serves wonderfully as is. However if you want a topping on it…
2 cups sour cream
4 Tbsp sugar
Mix together and spread over the cake.
For a nice splash of color, add fresh strawberries or even blueberries on top of the cake. You can even decide to drizzle over some of the strawberry sauce (below) directly before serving each slice.
1 lb /500 g fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp potato starch
2 Tbsp cold water
Clean and puree the strawberries.
In a medium pot over a medium high flame, bring to a boil the sugar, lemon juice, and strawberry puree. Remove it from the heat and let it cool. After it has cooled for 20 minutes, mix together the potato starch and cold water until it is smooth and add it to the still hot/warm sauce. Stir it until the sauce thickens, for about another 2 minutes. Serve.
ARTHUR SCHWARTZ’S PASSOVER PAREVE APPLE CAKE
Recipe reprinted with permission from Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited, copyright © 2008 (Ten Speed Press)
When this recipe was first given to Arthur Schwartz, it originally specified flour, not matzo cake meal. He didn't think it was very good, but made it a few times anyway, as his family and friends liked it. Obsessing over how to improve the recipe to make it more to his own liking, it dawned on him that someone had converted a perfectly good Passover cake into an everyday cake and that if he converted it back it would be much better. He loves it now, and everyone he has served it to raves about it. One day he didn't have quite enough ground cinnamon, however, and blended together a substitute with the teaspoon of cinnamon he had, plus ground nutmeg, mace, and ginger to fill out the tablespoon measure. That was yet another improvement.
Makes one 8-inch-square cake
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon or a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup matzo cake meal
5 medium apples, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups), preferably Golden Delicious, Crispin (Mutzu), or other apples that keep their shape when cooked
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil an 8-inch-square glass baking dish.
To prepare the topping, mix together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.
To prepare the cake batter, in a bowl, with a hand-held electric mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until well mixed. Beat in the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until the mixture is thick and foamy. Beat in the oil, adding it in a steady stream. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the spatula, stir in the matzo cake meal, blending well.
Pour half of the batter mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle about half the topping mixture evenly over the batter. Top with half the apples and all the raisins. Scrape the remaining half of the batter over the apples, spreading it out to cover the apples. Arrange the remaining apples on top of the batter. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining topping mixture.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the sides of the cake pull away very slightly from the baking dish and the topping has begun to caramelize. (A cake tester is not reliable. It will not come out clean due to the moist richness of this cake.) Let sit in the baking dish for several hours until completely cool before cutting into serving portions. This cake is yet another Yiddish food that improves with age. Keep the cake in its dish, covered tightly with plastic, and the next day the topping will have become a moist, candy-like coating.