Slice of Life: Recipes for Purim

February 13, 2014

Chocolate Heaven for Purim

As my kids get older, their interest in what to wear for Purim has taken a decidedly odd turn. Long gone are the cute little Haman and Achashverosh outfits that I would piece together the night before the Megillah reading.

They’ve given way to “concept statements” like going as the gallows with the hangman, or as Mordechai and his horse. I am no longer welcome in the planning sessions and have been relegated to the role of chief supply officer. I get to see the final results about 30 seconds before we head out the door for shul.

So rather than pout about being left out of the costume loop, I’ve decided to turn my frustrated creative urge to whipping up the most luscious shalach manot treats I can. This wonderful tradition has really changed since Mordechai and Esther mandated exchanging food and gifts to celebrate the holiday. What started out as a simple gift of a few hamantashen has grown into elaborate shrink-wrapped concoctions. Sure, I’ll throw in a few pieces of fruit and the obligatory hamantashen, but this year chocolate is going to be the star. The best part of this resolution is that I get to taste test every recipe. So, this year, you’ll know it’s me at the Megillah reading if you spy someone with curious chocolate smudges around the mouth, trailed by two strangely costumed creatures.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

  • 4 squares (I oz. each) unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a microwave or double boiler, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of chocolate chips and butter; cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs for 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and the chocolate mixture.
  3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; beat into chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.
  4. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
  5. Remove about 1 cup of dough. With lightly floured hands, roll into 1-in. balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly puffed and set.
  7. Cool in pan 3-4 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough.
  9. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Yield: about 4 dozen.

White Chocolate Fudge

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3; cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green and red food coloring, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup shelled chopped natural pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup red candied cherries, halved
  1. Butter 8″ square baking pan.
  2. In pot, over high heat, combine sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 240 F on a candy thermometer, about 12-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; add butter, chocolate and vanilla with-out stirring.
  4. Cool to 120 F, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Stir mixture; divide evenly between two bowls. Tint one green with food coloring; stir in almond extract.
  6. With spoon, beat until creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  7. Stir in nuts; spread in pan.
  8. Tint remaining mixture red; stir in zest.
  9. Beat until creamy; stir in cherries.
  10. Spread over green mixture.
  11. Cover surface directly with plastic; let stand at room temperature until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 jars (8 oz. each) maraschino cherries with stems, well drained*
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  1. In mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, milk, and extract; mix well.
  2. Knead into large ball. Roll into 1-inch balls and flatten each into a 2-inch circle. Wrap around cherries and lightly roll in hands.
  3. Place with stem up on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl.
  5. Holding onto stem, dip cherries into chocolate; set on waxed paper to harden.
  6. Store in a covered container.
  7. Refrigerate 1-2 weeks before serving. The longer they sit, the juicier the center will be.

Yield: about 3 dozen.

*The cheaper brands of cherries tend to make a very dry cherry, so you may not want to drain them much. If you end up with a dry filling, store them on the counter for a week, which seems to help a bit.

Brownie Muffins

  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1 square bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Combine butter and chocolate. Beat in sugar until well-combined. (These muffins contradict the rule that you are not supposed to overbeat muffins!)
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Mix flour, cocoa, and baking powder together, then add to butter and egg mixture, alternating with the milk and beating after each addition. (If using a hand-held electric beater, you may find that eventually, you have to switch to using a spoon.)
  5. Mix in vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  6. Line the cups of a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners, and fill the cups 3/4 full.
  7. Bake 25-35 minutes.

Yield: 18 muffins.

Congo Bars

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 package (I lb.) brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a small pan, melt shortening and then stir in brown sugar. Set aside to cool.
  2. Beat in eggs and then add dry ingredients.
  3. Add chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla. Pour into l0 x 15 inch pan.
  4. Bake in 350 F oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Cool and cut into squares.