Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Nisan 23, 5774

Simply Nuts for the Holiday!

April 5, 2007 By:
Andrew Schloss, JE Feature
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Watch the squirrels, fat as cats, cramming in calorie after calorie. Seeds, grains, even a scrap of bark will do in a pinch, but the real prize is a nut. A walnut, chestnut, acorn or filbert packed with protein, starchy sweet and rich with the most fragrant oils in nature. Nuts are treasure chests of flavor and nutrition.

Though the goodness of nuts is welcome at any time of the year, around Passover, they are a blessing, providing rich flavors and textures to baked goods at a time when many baking ingredients are taboo.

Each year, I try to add a new kosher-for-Passover nut dessert, and this year, it's pie.

I just started making nut pastry, and I am enamored of it. Pies are easy, they require no special technique, and in this case, the dough doesn't even need rolling. All you do is mix everything together and press right into a pan. Then just chill, fill and bake!

Have a sweet finish to the holiday.

Walnut Pie in Hazelnut Crust

(Dairy)

5 oz. (about 1 cup) toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
11/4 cups brown sugar
11/2 cups cake meal
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. almond extract
11/2 tsps. vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup light molasses
3 Tbsps. melted butter
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
11/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
11/2 cups walnut halves

Use a 9- or 10-inch pie pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground hazelnuts, 1/4 pound of butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and all of the cake meal.

Mix with a fork to combine roughly.

Beat the small egg with the almond extract and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract.

Add to the mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until the dough is well mixed.

Press dough into the pie pan. Build up a rim at the edge of the pan and crimp the edges.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350°.

To make the filling, combine the 3 extra-large eggs with the remaining brown sugar, salt, molasses, melted butter, remaining vanilla and lemon zest. Mix well.

Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Turn into the chilled nut pastry shell. Arrange the walnut halves in concentric circles on top of the pie.

Bake in center of the oven for about 45 minutes, until crust is browned and filling is set, but still a little soft in the center.

Cool on a rack to room temperature before cutting.

Serves 8.

 

Orange-Almond Tart

(Dairy)

1 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
11/4 cups sugar
11/2 cups cake meal
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
21/4 cups coarsely chopped almonds
2 cups heavy cream
13/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. orange extract
finely grated zest of an orange

Use a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground almonds, butter, sugar and cake meal. Mix with a fork to combine roughly.

Beat the small egg with 3/4 teaspoon of the almond extract.

Add to the mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until dough is well mixed.

Press dough into the tart pan. Build up a rim at the edge of the pan and crimp the edges.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Line chilled pastry shell with foil and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil and weights, and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

In a heavy saucepan, mix the almonds, cream, sugar, salt and the remaining almond extract. Cook over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the orange extract and zest, and pour into the prebaked pastry shell.

Bake for 50 minutes, until top of the tart bubbles and caramelizes lightly.

Remove to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Do not allow the tart to cool completely in the pan, or the caramel will solidify and you will never get it out! Release the edges with a sharp knife and remove the sides of the pan.

Cool the rest of the way.

Serves 12.

 

Slow-Cooker Nut Cake

(Pareve)

21/2 lbs. walnut halves or pecan halves
3/4 cup cake meal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
nonstick oil spray
1/4 cup kosher-for-Passover brandy

You will need a 1.5-quart soufflé dish, about 6 inches in diameter, and a large slow cooker.

Place nuts in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the cake meal, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl.

Toss 3 tablespoons of the dry ingredients with the nuts.

Mix the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts with the remaining dry ingredients to form a smooth batter. Scrape into the nuts and toss with a rubber spatula until everything is evenly coated.

Spray the interior of the soufflé dish with oil. Scrape the batter into the dish, wet your hands with cold water, and pack the nuts firmly into the dish.

Set in the slow cooker, cover the cooker with a folded tea towel and the slow-cooker lid. Cook on high for 6 hours until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the dish from the cooker and spoon the brandy over top. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge to loosen, invert onto a rack, remove the soufflé dish, turn right-side up and cool to room temperature.

Serves 12.

 

French Chocolate Cake

(Dairy/Pareve)

nonstick cooking spray
1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cut in pieces
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken in pieces
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, large or extra-large
1/4 tsp. almond extract
12/3 cups (about 51/2 oz.) finely ground almonds, walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 375°.

Spray and 8- or 9-inch round layer-cake pan with cooking spray.

Line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper and spray again.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave at full power or in a saucepan over medium heat until half-melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted.

Stir in the sugar, eggs, and almond extract until smooth. Fold in the ground nuts until evenly dispersed and pour into the pan.

Bake for 35 minutes, until top is crusty and edges are set, but center is still soft.

Cool in the pan on a rack until comfortable to touch. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto another rack.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Serves 12.

Andrew Schloss is a food-industry consultant and a cookbook author. His current book is Almost From Scratch: 600 Recipes for the New Convenience Cuisine.


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