Sensational Dairy-Free Desserts

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imageMore than 50 million Americans are lactose-intolerant, including cookbook author Penny Wantuck Eisenberg, author of AMAZING DAIRY-FREE DESSERTS (Surris Books, $24.95 U.S.).

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. She studied basic French cooking with a Cordon Bleu chef and then went on to learn advanced baking techniques from professional magazines, books and conferences. Penny is also the author of Light Jewish Holiday Desserts and Passover Desserts.

When I spoke to her recently, she was baking cheesecakes for 200 people for an event to aid the Susan Koman Breast Cancer. An avid golfer, she has been suffering with a bad back and hasn’t been able to play this summer, but she was busy baking cheesecakes because “I can stand and bake just fine!”

Her description of a layered chocolate and pink cheesecake topped with a chocolate ganache glaze and a big pink bow (made from white chocolate tinted pink) thoroughly impressed me. I only wished that I lived closer so I could knock on her door and enjoy a piece while we chatted about how she developed and created her recipes. While these cheesecakes were made with real cream cheese, Amazing Dairy-Free Desserts contains six dairy-free “cheezecakes.” See below for one of her dairy-free “cheezecake” creations.

For the Kosher cook, it’s always helpful to have recipes for dairy-free desserts in your repertoire. Imagine serving chicken soup and roast brisket for dinner, then finishing up with Chocolate Lover’s Cheezecake or Ice Creem! Penny’s desserts are sure to create flavorful food memories to remember. I’ve nicknamed them “Penny’s from Heaven” desserts. In her book, you’ll also find recipes for tiramisu, eclairs, chocolate mousse, rugelach, brownies, pumpkin pie…and so much more.

A recognized authority on specialty diets, Ms. Eisenberg has lectured at Johnson and Wales University, and is one of 33 women featured in a book called “The Secret to Their Success, how 33 women made their dreams come true”, published by Carolina Women’s Press.

A graduate of Boston University and North Bennet Street Industrial School, she has lived and studied in New York City, Paris, Madrid, and Boston. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to cooking and writing, Ms. Eisenberg volunteers at Crisis Assistance Ministry and devotes a good deal of time to Rally for the Cure, a golfing event to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Enjoy these dairy-free delights at your next Shabbos dinner and impress your family and friends! Enjoy…

Chocolate Lover’s Cheezecake

14 to 18 servings

This very dense chocolate cheesecake is rich and smooth. The whipped topping not only makes it look delicious, it also tempers the intense chocolate flavor. Penny Eisenberg’s dairy-free cookbook also offers up recipes for Chocolate Pecan Toffee Cheezecake and German Chocolate Cheezecake. Truly chocolate decadence!


Tea Biscuit Crumb Crust:



  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Have a 9-inch springform pan ready. Have ready a pan big enough to hold the 9-inch springform (such as a 12-inch square or round pan). Boil water to be used for a water bath.
  2. Place the sugar in a processor bowl and process for 30 to 60 seconds to finely grind the sugar. Transfer the sugar to a bowl. Place the cookies in the processor and process until they are finely ground. Measure out 1½ cups crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Stir the margarine into the crumbs, adding just enough so that the crumbs hold together when you press them with your fingers (the exact amount will depend on the cookies used). Press the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is just starting to brown. Cool until the pan can be handled and then wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty foil, bringing the edges up over the rim of the pan to secure it.
  3. While the crust is baking, place the soymilk and ¾ cup sugar in a small pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just barely starts to simmer. Remove it from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a minute and then stir until the chocolate melts. Stir in the cocoa. Strain the mixture into a bowl and set it aside to cool.
  4. Place the Tofutti in a mixer bowl and beat on low to medium speed until creamy. Beat in the remaining ¾ cup sugar until well mixed. Scrape down the bowl. Beat a few seconds to blend. On low, beat in the vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture. Scrape down the bowl and beat a few more seconds.
  5. Fork-whisk the eggs and yolks together in a small bowl. Add them to the cheesecake batter in 3 additions, beating on low to medium, just until the eggs are incorporated. Scrape down the bowl periodically. Pour the mixture over the crust. Place in the larger pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cheesecake tests clean, but the center of the cheesecake will look shiny and uncooked, and the center will be jiggly.
  6. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, remove the foil and let the cheesecake sit at room temperature, until cool enough to refrigerate.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.


Baking, Serving and Storing Tips:

Berry Frangipane Tart (see photo)

8 to 10 servings

Penny Eisenberg loves this oil-based press-in crumb-style crust because it’s so easy to make and uses ingredients that she always has on hand. It’s filled with a typical French almond filling (frangipane) and topped with fresh, seasonal berries. For a great presentation, place strawberry slices around the perimeter of the tart with mounds of berries in the center.


Toasted Almond Crumb Crust:

Toasted Almond Frangipane Filling:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With 1 Tablespoon of margarine, generously grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
  2. Place the almonds in a baking pan and set in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until the almonds are fragrant and just barely starting to brown. Set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Reserve 1 cup of nuts to be used in the filling.
  3. Place the remaining ½ cup of nuts in a food processor along with the flour and sugar. Pulse on and off until the nuts are finely ground. With the processor running, pour the oil through the feed tube and process until the mixture starts to clump up.
  4. Pack the mixture into the sides of the prepared 9-inch tart pan so that they are a scant 1/8-inch thick. Press the remainder into the bottom of the pan.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tart is lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
  6. Filling: Place the reserved cup of almonds, the sugar and flour in the processor bowl. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the margarine and pulse until blended. Add the egg and the liqueur and process until all is blended. Pour the mixture into the baked crust.
  7. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. Let cool.
  8. Brush some of the jam over the filling.
  9. If using strawberries, wash, dry, hull and slice the strawberries, lengthwise, into scant 1/8-inch slices. If using blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, wash them and pat dry. The berries can be mixed with the jelly or glazed with it. Raspberries, especially, taste better when they are brushed rather than saturated with the jelly.
  10. Arrange or pile on the berries using more if piled, and fewer berries if they are arranged.


Vanilla Ice Cream

Yields 5 cups

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 Penny Eisenberg 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.



  1. Put the eggs (still in their shells) into a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes (this will heat the eggs to warmer than room temperature).
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Remove the vanilla bean, and scrape the seeds into the egg mixture. Beat in the creamer.
  5. Pour the Rich Whip into a small mixer bowl. Beat on high speed until the Rich Whip forms soft peaks (or just until mounding if you prefer ice cream that freezes harder). Fold into the egg mixture.
  6. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker (Penny uses 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).
  7. 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.
  8. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and continue to freeze for several hours until it is the texture you like.


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.