I am just back from a week of book events in California to promote The Holiday Kosher Baker. It has been a whirlwind so far and I am just getting started. Bakers are a special breed of people, often as warm as their ovens, with a generous spirit that comes from sharing.
That spirit is definitely thriving in Hong Kong, China where I taught a baking class three weeks ago for the Jewish Community Center and Chabad. Clearly, I never expected a career in kosher baking to bring me there. But in life, if you keep your eyes open and always move forward, you never know where you might find yourself. For a list of my upcoming events, click here.
I had an amazing week touring Hong Kong, Kowloon and Lantau Island and found Shanghai Street, full of stores that sell only baking equipment -- look at the giant whisk I found.
I met wonderful people in the Jewish community, enjoyed Shabbat dinner at a community member’s home and spent Shabbat afternoon huffing and puffing my way up Victoria Peak with friends half my age. The baking workshop was a success, with 40 people in attendance and all copies of my new and first books sold out. The coconut lime cake from The Kosher Baker was beautiful and we made the summer fruit galette with gooseberries and star fruit.
I was nervous that the desserts would not come out as well as they do at home, but my talented team of Chinese bakers and I were thrilled with the results even when they did not have identical ingredients. In Hong Kong, there is no kosher-certified dark cocoa, such as Hershey's Special Dark, the key to the deep chocolate flavor of the Chewy Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies from the Chanukah chapter in The Holiday Kosher Baker. I learned that the cookies are still delicious with regular cocoa.
That recipe is the basis of the chocolate tahina cookie recipe below, made with a wonderful new tahina imported from Israel by
Soom Foods. Soom Tahina is made with Ethiopian sesame seeds, which gives the cookie a rich, nutty flavor.
Amy Zitelman of Soom Foods and I recently exhibited together at the Kosherfest food show in Secaucus, New Jersey. Many of you were lucky enough to be there and sample the cookie, the marriage of tahina and a cookbook. Everyone loved them and begged for the recipe. Thank you to Moti's Market in Rockville, MD for allowing me to use their bakery.
The book is officially out and can be found online, at Barnes and Noble and Judaica stores nationwide, Williams Sonoma and the Costco in Toronto. Please post photos of any sightings! Pre-orders have been so strong that Sterling Press already has commitments for 17,000 books, so please order books for Chanukah and Thanksgiving gifts as soon as you can so they can keep up with demand. Please let me know if you cannot find it and I will point you in the right direction.
For a taste of the book, click here for a preview. For a taste of the cookie, you have to bake them yourself. They are super easy so even your kids can bake them. My blog will feature the various Thanksgivikkuh recipes I have scattered around in various media and some new ones I have created as well. Hope to see you on the book tour.
Chocolate Tahina Cookies
Makes 3 dozen 3-inch cookies
Soom Tahina is the key to these cookies. If Soom is not in your local store, ask them to get it for you or please go their website to order.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
½ cup Soom Tahina
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups chocolate chips
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer or whisk attachment on medium speed to beat together the olive oil, sugar and brown sugar, scraping down the bowl a few times, until the mixture comes together into small clumps and looks like crystals. Turn the mixer to low speed and, with the mixer on, add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Stop the machine and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the tahina and vanilla and whisk again. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add the chocolate chips and mix to distribute.
Place the dough into the fridge for one hour to firm up. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper, or bake in batches. Cover and refrigerate the dough between batches. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of dough and use another spoon to drop the dough on the prepared baking sheets, about two inches apart. I like to use a small cookie scoop. Press the tops down to flatten the ball. Try to make sure all your cookies are the same size.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are mostly set but the centers are still soft; when you press the centers, your finger should be able to press halfway down into the cookie. The bottoms should not be too firm. Use a spatula to immediately lift the cookies onto a wire rack and let cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.