Who Needs Matzah When You Have Chocolate?
Thu, 03/14/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
Almond chocolate thumbprint cookies. Amy Spiro
Almond chocolate thumbprint cookies. Amy Spiro

Due to all the many food Thou Shalt Nots on Pesach, baking (for a baker like yours truly) is the hardest part of preparing for the holiday. Because, of course, without the key ingredient of flour, cookies, cakes and pies are virtually impossible to make.

Many cooks get by substituting matzah meal, basically ground-up matzah. But every year, when Passover rolls around, I set about creating and testing recipes that don’t call for one drop of it. I understand that we’re supposed to eat matzah at the seder, and I can even get behind the occasional slice slathered in butter, but matzah-flavored cake? Count me out.

So if you can’t have flour, and you can’t have its matzah-flavored substitute, you need something to give desserts body and texture: Chocolate!

Here are three recipes that are completely flour-free, and chocolate-filled. The chocolate cookies are incredibly simple and tasty, like a richer, chewier chocolate meringue. The almond chocolate cookies are buttery with just a hint of sweet, while the classic chocolate mousse is rich and creamy — the perfect end to any meal. They are also great for any gluten-free baking you want to do year round.

For more baking ideas and inspiration visit bakingandmistaking.com 

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee

1 cup cocoa powder, sifted

3 large egg whites

2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, coffee and cocoa until combined.

Add in the egg whites and vanilla and mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons on to a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.

Bake on 350 F for 9 to 13 minutes until the tops are shiny and crackly. If the centers appear darker than the rest of the cookie, they’re not yet cooked through, so return them to the oven for a couple more minutes.

Let the cookies cool for five minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Almond Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies - Makes about 18 cookies

¼ cup butter or margarine, softened

¼ cup honey

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups ground almonds or almond flour

Chocolate ganache:

⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips

⅓ cup cream or almond milk

Beat together the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth and creamy. Add in the ground almonds and mix until a dough comes together.

Form tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place, one inch apart, on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 to12 minutes until lightly browned and baked through.

While the cookies are baking, gently melt the chocolate and cream together (either over a double boiler, or in a microwave at 50% power). Stir together until smooth and creamy.

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, use a tablespoon measuring spoon to make an indent in the center of each, and fill with about 1 teaspoon of ganache. If the ganache gets too firm to pour as you work, give it a quick zap in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Let the cookies set at room temperature or stick them in a fridge for 10 minutes until the centers are firm.

Classic Chocolate Mousse - Serves 6 to 8

8 eggs

10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Separate all the eggs into yolks and whites — use two separate bowls and make sure no yolk gets in the whites (vice versa is OK).

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or microwave (at 50 percent power).

Place the egg yolks in the bottom of a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the melted chocolate to the yolks, stirring to combine. Pour in the rest of the chocolate and mix well, until completely combined. Set the chocolate mixture aside.

Beat the egg whites on high until they form stiff peaks — so that they stand on end when scooped up. Add a third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate and stir to combine.

Then, using a plastic spatula, fold in another third of the egg whites, being careful not to stir or deflate the whites. It helps to use a glass bowl so you can see if you’ve missed any parts that need combining. Fold in the remaining third of the egg whites — being careful not to over-mix or stir, and pour the mixture into either a bowl or individual cups and cover, then refrigerate until set.