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The Challenge of Holiday Baking

March 13, 2013
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Passover baking is the greatest annual challenge in the Jewish kitchen because Passover dessert recipes cannot use flour, yeast, soy milk, or even pure vanilla, and shifting from flour to matzah cake meal and potato starch is not intuitive, even for experienced bakers.
 
As dessert plays an important part of the seder meal, you need fabulous desserts to end your evening. Pastry chef, cookbook author and teacher Paula Shoyer creates delicious kosher Passover desserts in her best-selling cookbook, The Kosher Baker.
 
Producing flavorful and appealing desserts that are kosher has always been a challenge for Jewish cooks. Without access to butter, cream, milk, cheese, yogurt, or other dairy products, creating a delicious and memorable dessert for holiday meals requires more than simple substitutions and compromises.
 
Paris-trained pastry chef Shoyer decided to change that. Using her creativity and love of dessert, she developed The Kosh­er Baker, a kitchen companion providing a wide range of dairy-free desserts, from family favorites and time-honored holiday classics to stylish and delicious surprises of her own creation.
 
Marble Chocolate Matzah
1⁄3 cup slivered almonds
10 oz. pareve dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
1⁄3 cup pareve white chocolate chips
3 large or 4 small pieces of matzah
 
Preheat the oven to 325˚.
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment. Spread the almonds on the pan and toast for 15 minutes, stirring the nuts after 10 minutes. When the almonds are toasted, remove the pan from the oven and slide the parchment off the cookie sheet.
 
While the nuts are toasting, melt the dark chocolate in one heatproof bowl and the white chocolate in another. You can do this either on the stovetop in a double boiler or in the micro­wave. If you use the micro­wave method, be especially care­ful with the white chocolate chips so they do not burn.
 
When the almonds are toasted, use a large knife to roughly chop them into pieces about 1⁄3 of their original size. Mix the nuts into the melted dark chocolate.
 
Line 1 large or 2 smaller cookie sheets with waxed paper and place the matzahs on top of the waxed paper. Spread the dark chocolate and nut mixture all over the matzah slices to cover them entirely on one side with the chocolate.
 
Drop clumps of the melted white chocolate randomly on top of the dark chocolate. Use a toothpick to swirl the chocolates to create a marble effect. Place in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour and then break into pieces to serve.
 
Store in the refrigerator for six days or freeze for up to three months.
 
Serves 12.
 
Strawberry Mousse
16 oz. fresh strawberries
1 tsp. imitation rum extract, optional
2 tsps. confectioner’s sugar
juice of 1 lemon
6 Tbsps. sugar
2 Tbsps. unflavored kosher gelatin powder
1 cup pareve whipping cream
 
Remove the stems from the strawberries and set 6 of them aside. Take the 6 strawberries, slice thinly, and place in a small bowl with the rum and confectioner’s sugar. Mix to combine and then place in the refrigerator.
 
Cut the remaining strawberries in half and place in a blend­er or food processor fitted with a metal blade.
 
Puree the strawberries completely, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl or blend­er so that all the strawberry piec­es are pureed.
 
Place the strawberry puree in a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir. Cook on medium low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts.
 
Add the gelatin, whisk and then remove from the heat. Strain into a medium bowl, pressing hard to get as much strawberry puree through as possible, and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, stirring twice during that time.
 
In bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, whip the whipping cream until stiff. Remove the strawberry puree from the refrigerator and fold in the whipped cream in four parts. Scoop the mousse evenly into the ramekins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.
 
To serve, remove from the refrigerator and place a few of the rum-soaked strawberry slices on the top. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
 
Serves 8.
 
Strawberry Shortcake
pareve margarine or spray oil for greasing pan
4 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup matzah cake meal
1 Tbsp. potato starch
1 cup pareve whipping cream
10 to 12 strawberries for filling, plus more for garnish
 
Preheat oven to 425˚. Place an 8-inch round baking pan on top of a piece of parchment and trace a circle around the pan. Cut out the circle. Grease the bottom of the pan with some margarine or spray oil, place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan, and then grease the circle and the sides of the pan.
 
In a small bowl, mix together the yolks and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the vanilla. Set aside.
 
Place the whites in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held or stand electric mixer on high until stiff. Turn off the mixer, add the sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated.
 
Turn up the speed to high and mix 1 minute more. Add the yolk mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Add the cake meal and potato starch and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are all mixed in.
 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread with a silicone spatula. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool for 45 minutes and then remove the cake from the pan by turning the pan over and flipping the cake onto a rack.
 
Place the whipping cream and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until you have a thick whipped cream.
 
Peel the parchment circle off the cake and slice into two layers. Set the half that was covered with the parchment circle aside. It will be the top of the cake. Place the other half, top-side down, on a serving plate.
 
Wash and dry the strawberries, remove the stems and cut into thin slices. Spread about 1 cup of the whipped cream evenly over the bottom layer. Cover with the strawberry slices. Place the other piece of the cake on top, so the smooth bottom-side is facing up.
 
Take the rest of the whipped cream and spread to cover the top and sides of the cake. You can smooth the top and sides by heating a long metal flat-blade spatula in hot water, drying it slightly, and then sliding it around the top and sides of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
 
To decorate, just before serving, you can cover the top with thin, overlapping slices of strawberries.
 
Place a circle of strawberry halves on the top rim of the cake or use concentric circles of different berries or fruit. You can also press some strawberry slices into the sides of the cake as well. 
 
Serves 12.
 
Orange Cigarette Cookies
2 large egg whites
2 and 1⁄2 Tbsps. matzah cake meal, plus extra for sprinkling on pan
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
2 Tbsps. pareve margarine, plus extra for greasing pan
 
In a bowl, whisk together egg whites, cake meal and sugar. Add orange zest and mix.
 
Heat the margarine in the microwave until melted and add to the bowl. Whisk well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
 
Preheat the oven to 400˚. Use a teflon cookie sheet or grease and sprinkle cake meal on a regular cookie sheet.
 
Stir the batter. Drop tablespoons of batter onto the sheet, 3-inches apart. With the back of a spoon, flatten the batter until the circle is about 2 and 1⁄2- to 4-inches in diameter. This takes time; the more patient you are, the thinner and crisper the cookies become.
 
Bake only 9 cookies at a time so that it is easier to roll the cookies as soon as they are baked — they will dry flat if they sit on your cookie sheet too long.
 
Bake the cookies for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden. Using a flat-blade spatula, carefully scrape up each cookie and place it top-side down onto the counter.
 
Place the handle of a wooden spoon on one end of the cookie and quickly wrap the cookie around the wooden handle to form a cigarette. Quickly repeat for the other cookies.
 
Makes 30 cookies.

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