There is absolutely no reason why kosher food and desserts have to be anything less than what everyone else is eating. Share with me your baking and cooking sucesses, challenges, and disasters. I will share my recipes, shabbat and holiday menu planning and my love of food.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Passover Hunger Games

There aren’t too many addictive Passover treats.  On Chanukah I love my doughnuts and on Shavuot, I am a slave to my cheesecake, scooping up a spoonful every time I pass the fridge.   Most families have a special Rosh Hashanah apple cake or strudel that they couldn’t live without.  On Passover, we slog through the holiday, making the culinary best of things, but we are perfectly happy to say goodbye to our Passover foods the second the holiday is over. 

This year I am calling for the end of the hunger games.  All year long I preach that there is no reason why parve desserts have to be inferior to dairy desserts.  Now I am telling you that with the right Passover treats, you can have a smile on your face for eight days and you won’t feel like killing anyone. 

Last year I gave you Passover granola, which I keep in baggies in my purse throughout the holiday, eating handfuls and leaving a trail of crumbs everywhere I go.  This year I offer up raspberry honey marshmallows that are pretty, sweet, gluten-free and highly addictive. 

I am not the only one who appreciates the need for a unique treat on Passover.   I discovered a pastry chef in New York City who has the same idea.  In addition Ram Caterers of New york runs a kosher for Passover program at Miami's Fountainbleu Hotel and offers Passover whoopie pies, cupcakes jelly doughnuts and their own versions of Ring Dings and Devil Dogs.  This past week, I really should have been home in Maryland scrubbing, shopping and preparing for Passover.   Instead, I was in New York City for the annual International Association of Culinary Professional (IACP) conference, which started sweetly with a walking pastry and chocolate tour of lower Manhattan and ended with my asking Martha Stewart about Passover desserts on her TV show. 

At first I thought the tour would feature exclusively chocolate Easter eggs. Two pastry shops were already offering Passover desserts, albeit ones not certified kosher for Passover.   I am always looking for ideas to bring to the kosher community.   Jacques Torres had several flavors of chocolate covered matzoh, including one containing chili powder called “Wicked”, a nod to the wicked son we read about in the Haggadah.  

The next place we visited was Francois Payard who personally gave us a tour of his bakery. One of his chefs was working on nothing other than Passover cookies.  He was piping an almond cookie batter onto sheets in a fleur de lys shape.   When I asked Francois about his chocolate-covered matzohs, he handed me his Passover specialty: two graham cracker-sized matzohs with caramel between them that was enrobed in chocolate.  Whenever anyone mentions caramel matzoh, I am always reminded of Marcy Goldman's famous caramel matzoh crunch that has been a staple in my house for 20 years.  My friend, and fellow Jewish cookbook author, Tina Wasserman, says that in her family it is the Passover equivalent of a highly addictive drug.  Francois’s version was equally sinful, but as it is dairy, it is kind of cheating.  Watch for another Passover posting next week when I will try to post my own parve version of Passover caramel matzoh sandwiches (working title, suggestions welcome).

Let the sweet games begin.  Happy Passover! 

Raspberry Honey Marshmallows 
Makes at least 35 1- 1 ½ inch marshmallows

Prep time 20 minutes; they need to sit overnight

The first time I ever 
saw homemade marshmallows was in Paris in 2008 and I could not believe the variety of flavors offered including olive oil, basil and vanilla, and coffee.   The trend started coming here a year or two later and then finally to the kosher world.  The biggest challenge was finding a substitute for corn syrup which featured prominently in every marshmallow recipe I found.  I decided to try honey instead and was surprised that it actually worked. You should taste the raspberries before you puree them and add confectioner’s sugar to adjust the flavor to your taste.  You can also make them with strawberry purée.

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup honey
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces fresh raspberries
½ cup plus 4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, divided

Place the gelatin powder in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Pour ½ cup cold water over the powder and let sit for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the raspberries and two or more (depending on tartness of the berries) tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar into the bowl of a food processor and process until completely puréed, scraping down the bowl several times.  Strain into another bowl and set aside.

Place the sugar, honey, salt and ¼ cup water into a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and then cook until the mixture reaches 250°F, using a candy thermometer to check the exact temperature.  Use the wire whisk attachment on the mixer and turn on to low speed, starting to mix the gelatin.  While the mixer is going, slowly pour the hot mixture down the side of the bowl into the gelatin, not onto the wire whisk where it will get stuck.  When it is all poured in, turn the speed up to medium high for 12 full minutes until the mixture gets very thick and fills up the mixing bowl.  Meanwhile cover a 9 X 13 inch pan with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom and go up all the sides.  Using a sieve, dust the bottom on the pan with ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar.

Use a silicone spatula to gently fold the raspberry purée into the  mixture.  You can mix it completely for solid pink marshmallows or mix it part way to create a marble effect.  Scoop the mixture onto the sugarcoated parchment and spread evenly and into the corners.  Let sit uncovered overnight.

Take a large piece of parchment and use a sieve to dust half of another ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar to cover the parchment.  Use the parchment edges to life the marshmallow out of the pan and onto the sugar-coated parchment.  Use scissors, a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut into squares or any shape or use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes (eat the scraps).  Place the remaining confectioner’s sugar into a bowl and dust every cut marshmallow to coat all sides with sugar.  Use the sieve to shake off excess.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  May be frozen.

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