Special Holiday Issues

Passover 5774

Prime Cuts Of Beef; Chocolate Matzah Truffles; Passover Punch. Plus, New Haggadot And Cool Gifts.

Passover 5774

Who Needs Matzah When You Have Chocolate?

Some sweet, flour-free dessert ideas that don’t contain a pinch of you know what.

Special To The Jewish Week

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. 

Almond chocolate thumbprint cookies. Amy Spiro

The Passover Story, PDF Style

‘It’s still the Haggadah,’ says a publishing expert, but increasingly it’s downloadable.

Staff Writer

Not so long ago, if you needed a new Haggadah for your seder, you’d head to a bookstore. On the shelves there you’d probably find a wide selection of new Haggadot in English each year, sometimes up to a dozen, usually filled with commentaries on the Passover readings and rituals written by a deceased sage or a contemporary authority.

Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen brought out his own Haggadah after raising funds on the Kickstarter crowd-funding platform.

Freedom’s Bounty

Cool (and meaningful) gifts for Passover.

Jewish Week Book Critic

Celebrate freedom, the beginning of spring and the great joy of family and friends coming together in this annual holiday tradition. Share gratitude in reaching this season again with some thoughtful gifts that honor memory and fine craftsmanship. Some are also fun.

“One Bead,” the first CD by Epichorus

Doing More With Less

Two Pesach cookbooks get creative by restricting their holiday ingredients.

Special To The Jewish Week

If there’s anything most observant cooks don’t want on Pesach, it’s more restrictions. But that’s just what the authors of two new holiday cookbooks are doing — adding limits to their cooking beyond the usual flour, bread and oats — and forcing themselves to become even more creative.

From top left: Matzaroni and cheese, spinach and mushroom quinoa and baked spaghetti squash “ziti.”

Four Cups On A Budget

Eight new wines under $25 to add a bit of zing to your Passover table (but not your wallet).

Special To The Jewish Week

The run-up to Passover is when wine merchants make the majority of their kosher wine sales, and when most kosher wine producers and importers bring their new vintages to market. So every year, in this space, I review some of the best of these new wines.

Two of the author’s top picks, a white and a red, for budget-priced Pesach wines.

Passover 5773: A Taste of Freedom

A Taste of Freedom
Four cups on a budget, creative cooking with restrictions, cool gifts and the latest Haggadahs.

Passover 5773: A Taste of Freedom

The Musical December Dilemma

The outlines of Jewish assimilation and identity in Idelsohn Society’s Christmas/Chanukah 2-CD set.

Special to the Jewish Week

December wasn’t always like this. Christmas only became an official American holiday by act of Congress in 1870. Chanukah was considered a minor Jewish holiday back then. And there were no big-box stores crushing the life out of local entrepreneurs and sparking a shopping dementia that began the day after Thanksgiving (if not earlier).

The two CDs that make up “’Twas the Night Before Christmas: The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights”.

Don’t Do Chanukah Half-Baked

For latkes this year, forget the oil and the fry pan. Your cholesterol will thank you.


Gone are the days when the Chanukah holiday meant an eight-day binge fest of all things fried.

The Festival of Lights, which commemorates the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks, has a longstanding tradition of oily foods such as latkes and donuts in remembrance of the miracle of the temple oil, which lasted eight days instead of the expected one. But for some, the holiday has become an excuse to inhale fried potato pancakes and custard-filled pastry.

A healthy alternative: Roasted gingered carrot latkes.

Mulling Over Chanukah

Heated, seasoned wine is just the drink for the winter festival.

Special To The Jewish Week

More than most Jewish holidays, Chanukah is a festival celebrated by consuming traditional, regional foods. For Jews of Russian/Lithuanian ancestry, the food of choice is potatoes latkes; for Polish Jews, it’s ratzelech (latkes made with a mixture of potatoes and apples); for Italian Jews, it’s fried chicken, and for Israelis it’s jelly donuts and mulled wine. 

While mulled wine is not so popular here, in Israel it’s becoming the drink of choice on Chanukah.
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