Even for experienced bakers, Passover is the greatest annual challenge. Passover bakers cannot use flour, yeast or even pure vanilla. Very few bakeries make kosher for Passover desserts, and those packaged Passover cookies and cakes have been sitting on the shelves in my local stores since January. In short, for this holiday, you really need to bake yourself, and that is why I included a Passover chapter in The Kosher Baker.
During Passover, you need to satisfy two distinct baking needs: You need elegant desserts to serve at the Seders, Shabbat and holiday days, and you cannot survive without snack food to get you through the week. For the Seders I give you the easy yet elegant Chocolate Almond Cake with Ganache Glaze. You can dress up the slices with puréed and strained strawberries or raspberries. To snack on, I present my Whole Wheat Passover Granola made with whole wheat matzoh farfel, nuts and dried fruit. You can eat it straight, on yogurt or ice cream, or in milk as a tastier alternative to pink and blue Passover breakfast cereals. The recipe makes almost seven cups of granola, and I ate six of them myself.
I won the get-out-of-Passover-free card this year and am headed to sunny Boca Raton where I will be baking exclusively chocolate desserts because any other dessert is against my mother’s beliefs. And lest you think I am a slacker, I have been baking Passover desserts for two months already, teaching classes at home in Maryland/DC, Chicago and around New York, and creating new recipes for you. Look for more of my Passover desserts in the Passover issue of Kosher Inspired Magazine, Washington Jewish Week and the Washington Post. Trust me, the better the sweets, the happier you will be.
Two weeks out you are likely already making your lists and checking them thrice, have been to the store multiple times already and also to the bank for a home equity loan to pay for all this food. Tell me how you get through Passover. Here are my top ten survival tips to make your holiday enjoyable:
1. Save receipts from year to year so you have a shopping list of what you actually use, and edit during the holiday – if you buy 3 jars of jam and use two, change the list
2. The more chocolate you eat, the less you miss bread and pasta
3. Double snack food recipes
4. Eat healthy – plan meals around protein and vegetables
5. Stay away from kugel – wouldn’t you rather have your Passover “carbs” in the form of dessert?
6. If you must eat kugel, every portion consumed demands 45 minutes of exercise
7. Don’t get frustrated in your kitchen; make sure you have the equipment you need to make what you like
8. A method of making really good coffee during Passover is essential to shalom bayit (peace in the home)
9. Plan a Passover away every 5 years – during the holiday, dream about how next year you might get the get-out-of-Passover-free-card
10. The Kosher Baker has over 20 Passover recipes
Whole Wheat Passover Granola
3 cups whole wheat matzoh farfel
1 cup dried coconut flakes
1 cup pecan halves, chopped into ½ inch pieces
½ cup cashews, chopped into ½ inch pieces
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped apricots (about 10 halves)
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper goes ½ inch up the sides. In a large bowl, mix together the farfel, coconut, chopped pecans and cashews, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
Place the honey, oil and brown sugar into a glass measuring cup or microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 45 seconds, until the honey and sugar can be dissolved. Stir well. Pour over the farfel mixture and toss to coat. Spread on the prepared baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the farfel and nuts are browned. Let cool on the pan for 30 minutes. Mix in the fruit. Store in a freezer bag or airtight container.
Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Makes one 10-inch cake, 12 to 16 servings
1 cup whole almonds
Parve margarine for greasing pans
10 ounces parve semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup ground walnuts
3 large eggs plus 2 whites
3/4 cup sugar
7 ounces parve semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
1 cup parve whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the almonds on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan and toast for 15 minutes, or until the almonds are browned and fragrant.
Take a 10-inch springform pan and detach the bottom. Trace the bottom onto a piece of parchment and cut out. Cover the top of the pan bottom with aluminum foil and then wrap the excess foil under the bottom. Attach the pan sides to the bottom, lock in place, and then unwrap the foil and wrap up around the sides of the pan. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Press the parchment circle into the bottom of the pan. Grease the top of the parchment circle.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the toasted almonds, ground walnuts, whole eggs, egg whites, and sugar and process until the mixture becomes a smooth batter. Make sure there are no large chocolate chunks in the batter.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until set. Let cool for 20 minutes.
To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate either on the stovetop or in the microwave. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the cream and vanilla just to a boil. Pour the cream into the melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed or vigorously by hand with a whisk for 2 minutes to thicken the glaze.
Release the sides of the pan. Use a wide knife or long metal spatula to separate the parchment circle from the foil and slide the cake and parchment onto a serving platter. Place small pieces of waxed paper under and around the bottom of the cake to catch any extra glaze. Pour the glaze over the cake and use a silicone spatula to smooth the top and cover all over the sides. Store in the refrigerator until serving. Remove the waxed paper pieces, decorate with fruit, shaved chocolate, or nuts and serve.
Go to the website for more food and dessert recipes for Passover.