Sweet morsels for Passover desserts

By Tina Wasserman

If you do bedikat chometz the evening before the first night of Pesach then cooking in advance has no meaning to you and is just a sigh while you cook up a storm. I have found, however, that many or most people switch their homes over so that they have a few days to prepare for the groaning board that is a Passover meal. Others start out a week or two in advance and don’t switch their kitchens and utensils over at all. I make absolutely NO judgment. I just am happy when I hear that someone is making their grandmother’s chicken soup or Tanta Rachel’s brisket or my Passover granola (previously published in the TJP and also on my website, www.cookingandmore.com).

Since I am confident that almost all desserts can be made in advance, I thought I would give you more time to create those morsels of sweets for the end of your Seder. My recommendation for dessert should be small pastries or a simple torte that can be cut into small portions. We all know that we are stuffed at the end of the meal and don’t really have room for a big dessert. There’s another reason to make small cookies or cake…people who feign being full or not eating sweets will definitely take something that they can pop in their mouths with no telltale evidence! Keep that in mind all year long. If you are creating a buffet for many guests and are anxious that you will run out of food, place each brownie or cookie in a little paper cup. Six pieces of paper on your guest’s plate cannot be hidden from the other guests so people tend to slow down their grazing.

The following recipes might be just the recipes to complement your Passover brownies, chocolate lollipops, and meringue cookies. Each recipe is also pareve, using no butter or cream because, even if you don’t keep kosher, it is customary to not have dairy after a meat meal. That said, don’t try to make your family’s cheesecake non-dairy. Tradition and the constancy of our memories is the most important ingredient in your cooking.

Have a ziesen Pesach!

Passover Sabayon 

I created this recipe for this year’s AJC Diplomatic Seder. Since we couldn’t be together, we are sending a catered Passover dinner to all the participants, who are mostly not Jewish. I decided to have each household receive a bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape wine since it tells the story of Jewish immigrants and how they made their own kosher wine more than 400 years ago in America. Now, since all of the participants don’t necessarily think of this sweet wine when eating a meal, I thought I would show them ways to enjoy the remaining wine in their bottles. Next week I will give you a short rib recipe.

4 egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup sweet Concord grape wine (Manischewitz or Mogen David brand)

1 tablespoon brandy 

1 tablespoon hot water

1-2 pints fresh berries or fruit

1. Place the egg yolks and the sugar in the top of a double boiler or in a 1-quart saucepan and whisk together until a thick ribbon of mixture pours off the whisk.

2. Place the pan with the sugar-egg mixture over another pan containing hot, but not boiling, water. The mixture shouldn’t be so hot that it will cook the yolks.

3. Add the wine and liqueur to the sugar-yolk mixture and whisk constantly over the warm water for 3-4 minutes until a nice, thick custard is formed. 

4. When the custard has thickened, IMMEDIATELY remove from the heat or you will have fancy scrambled eggs!! 

5. Whisk the tablespoon of hot water (you can use the water in the bottom pan) into the custard. This will set the Sabayon and prevent it from separating.

6. Have your fresh berries divided into 4 or 6 serving dishes or glasses. Pour the sabayon over the fruit and serve.

Tina’s Tidbits: 

• Although Sabayon is meant to be served warm, it can easily be made a few days in advance and served cold or at room temperature over the fresh fruit. 

• Although you don’t want to overcook the Sabayon over hot water, whisking the additional tablespoon of hot water will set the custard and prevent it from separating while refrigerated.

• This recipe has French origins although they use champagne or white wine with the brandy; Italians use Marsala wine and call this sauce Zabaglione. 

Argentinian Guizadas — Almond Macaroons

I published a recipe for Tunisian Guizadas in my book that used pistachios and orange blossom water. This recipe hails from Argentina and uses orange extract or orange zest and whole almonds plus turbinado sugar to give it the crunch on the outside and softer interior. These are not your typical canned almond macaroons! They are pareve and contain no additional oil.

1 cup whole raw almonds

¹⁄₃ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

¼ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon orange extract or finely grated zest from ½ orange

Egg whites from 2 large eggs (about ¹⁄₃ cup)

Enough unroasted whole almonds to garnish each cookie

1 tablespoon of additional turbinado sugar for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. 

3. Place the 1 cup whole almonds onto the baking sheet and roast the almonds in the oven until fragrant. This should take about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. Once the toasted almonds have cooled, place them in a food processor work bowl. Pulse the processor 30 times, turn the machine on for 20 seconds, pulse 10 more times and then turn the machine on for 10 seconds. The almonds should be slightly coarse but not like almond flour.

5. In a 2-quart mixing bowl combine the granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, egg whites, almond extract and orange extract, or orange zest, and whisk until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

6. Add the ground almonds to the bowl and, switching to a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until all ingredients are combined and it forms into a dough-like consistency. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

8. I use a 1-tablespoon food scoop with the macaroon dough and place the balls of dough directly on the cookie sheet. Gently press 1 whole almond onto the top of each macaroon. Sprinkle the macaroons with the additional 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar. 

9. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the macaroons are golden brown and cooked through and a bit tender in the center. Don’t let them get too dark.

10. Transfer the baking sheet from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, remove the macaroons to a plate. Let them cool to room temperature and serve, or place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• Nuts should roast in the oven only until fragrant. If you wait until they are a perfect color before removing from the heat, they will continue to fry in their own oils and might become too dark and bitter.

• The use of whole almonds gives this cookie a darker and richer flavor than blanched almonds. However, whole, blanched almonds may be used.

• A food scoop looks just like an ice cream scoop and is a big help when you want an evenly shaped cookie. You can find them in all sizes at a restaurant supply store or the frequently used sizes for homes at your favorite gadget store.

• These cookies store very well in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or more. 

Passover or Gluten-Free
Molten Mocha Cinnamon Chocolate Cookies

These are wonderful to have in your freezer all year long. Because the balls are frozen hard when placed in the oven to bake, the short baking time crisps the outside but the inside is soft and gooey. Soooo delicious!

10 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate (chips are fine)

4 tablespoons pareve margarine, coconut oil or unsalted butter

2 tablespoons potato starch

¼ teaspoon baking powder (kosher for Passover if needed)

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

½ teaspoon instant espresso

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup semisweet chocolate, either chips or chopped ¼-inch pieces

1. Combine the 10 ounces of chocolate and the fat in a 1-quart glass bowl. Microwave this mixture on high for 1 minute. Stir. Place bowl back and microwave for another 30 seconds. Remove, stir until all chocolate is melted and set aside.

2. Mix the potato starch, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Using a wire whisk, beat eggs and sugar in a 2-quart mixing bowl until light and lemon-colored. Add the espresso, cinnamon and vanilla and beat to combine.

4. Add the chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until all egg mixture is incorporated.

5. Add the dry ingredients and mix only until there is no starch visible. Stir in the additional chopped chocolate or chips. Scrape down sides of bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

6. Using a 1-tablespoon portion scoop or a rounded measuring spoon, place dough onto a parchment- or foil-lined cookie sheet. 

7. Freeze dough covered with plastic wrap until very hard. When frozen, remove individual dough balls to a zip-lock freezer bag. Place a straw in the corner of the partially closed bag and suck out the air. Seal the bag at the same time you remove the straw. Freeze until ready to bake.

8. To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place frozen balls of dough onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are crisp but very soft to the touch in the center. Cookies will harden a little as they cool.

9. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes if you want them to be hot and gooey, longer if you want them to hold their shape a little better.

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Tina’s Tidbits:

• Chocolate chips contain more lecithin, which allows them to be hard and hold their shape. Using chips will make the dough a little firmer and create an even crisper cookie when baked.

• My daughter often yells at me about this so always use your eyes as well as your timer to judge when a recipe is properly baked. Convection ovens will cook 25% faster if the oven doesn’t already lower the temperature 25 degrees. I prefer to bake in less time.

• The baking times listed give a range to accommodate all types of ovens so your eye is the best gauge.

• These cookies will feel soft around the edges when removed from the oven but will crisp upon cooling.

• Baked cookies may be refrigerated and then reheated in a microwave for 20 seconds on high. However, cold, baked cookies are like a cross between a cookie and a truffle and quite delicious!

OK, so I told you pareve for desserts. Maybe think about this as a substitute for “Matzo Crack” — you know, the chocolate-buttercrunch-topped matzo that is addictive.

Alfajores are popular sandwich cookies filled with Dulce de Leche or caramel served all over South America but especially in Argentina. Here is a version made with matzo crackers that makes a wonderful dessert during Passover or a special hostess gift during the week. 

Passover Alfajores 

½ cup heavy cream

¹⁄₃ cup sugar

¹⁄₃ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ teaspoon vanilla

Kosher for Passover Tam Tam Crackers

12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Coarse Pink Himalayan or Hawaiian salt for garnish, optional

1. Combine the cream, sugars and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring only until the sugar is melted. 

2. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue to cook the mixture until a thermometer registers 245 degrees or until a teaspoon of mixture dropped into a small bowl of water with ice forms a firm ball. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly while you melt the chocolate.

3. Melt ²⁄₃ of the chocolate in a 1-quart bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds on high. Stir until smooth. If necessary, return chocolate to microwave and melt at 20-second intervals on 80% power until chocolate is melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until mixture is smooth.

4. Spoon a teaspoon of the caramel onto a cracker and then sandwich with another cracker. Repeat with the remaining filling and crackers.

5. Carefully dip each sandwich in the melted chocolate and then place on waxed or parchment paper to harden. If desired, sprinkle with a few grains of salt while chocolate is still warm.

Yield: about 2 dozen 

Tina’s Tidbits: 

• You can use chocolate coating which will have a high gloss but not a depth of flavor or you can use good chocolate but have a dull surface. Both will taste good. However, in order to get the best flavor with the best look, follow the following directions to temper the chocolate:

• Place ²⁄₃ of the chocolate in a 1-quart saucepan and place it in a larger saucepan that is filled halfway with hot water. Heat over medium-high heat until chocolate has melted and reached a temperature of 115 degrees. Remove from water pan and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until completely smooth. Let stand until temperature goes below 84 degrees. Then place chocolate pan over the pan with hot water and let it sit for 10 seconds. Remove, and your chocolate is now tempered.

Leave a Reply