Kosher Baking for the Seder and Beyond


These desserts combine contemporary and traditional approaches to Jewish baking.

It’s a new era for Jewish home bakers. Kosher baking ingredients have evolved and kosher food in general has become more gourmet.

Now, pastry chef Paula Shoyer offers a thoroughly mod­ern approach to Jewish holiday baking that includes both contemporary and traditional re­cipes, more than 34 of which have been tailored for Passover.

Shoyer’s The Holiday Kosher Baker is a must-have kosher baking cookbook for the holidays — and one that you’ll enjoy using throughout the year.

Just like days always seem longer when you don’t get a snack, Passover often feels like a long holiday if you don’t get a tasty treat every day. Here are a few recipes to make sure you have a joyous  holiday.

Lemon and Passion Fruit Pavlova
A pavlova is a large scooped-out meringue shell filled with whipped cream or mousse and topped with fruit. It was named after Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, and was first served in her honor when she visited New Zealand. Do not completely cover the curd with the whipped cream but, rather, use the cream as a border around the curd. Do not worry if you cannot find passion fruit; the dessert is delicious with any fruit you like.
Meringue Ingredients:
4 large egg whites, reserve 2 yolks for curd recipe, below
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsps. potato starch, sifted
Curd Ingredients:
2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
3⁄4 cup sugar
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest (from one lemon)
3 Tbsps. margarine
1-2 fresh passion fruits
1 cup dairy-free whipping cream
sliced strawberries, plums, mango, kiwi or fresh berries

Preheat oven to 250˚.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. If you like, trace a circle around a dinner plate — about 10 inches in diameter — on the parchment paper and use it as a guide to make your me­ringue shell. Flip the parchment paper over so that the circle you’ve drawn is on the underside of the paper (you don’t want to put your meringue on top of pencil or pen marks). 

To make the Meringue: Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the speed on low, beat the egg whites until they start to look foamy. Add the salt and then raise the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and add the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, completely mixing it in before adding the next amount.

When all the sugar has been added, raise the speed to high and beat the meringue for one minute. Add the lemon juice and potato starch and mix to incorporate. Use a little of the me­ringue to glue the corners of the parchment to the cookie sheet.

Spoon the meringue onto the middle of the parchment paper or silicone mat. Use a silicone spatula to spread the meringue back and forth until you have a circle the size of a 10- to 12-inch-wide plate. Press your spatula or the back of a spoon into the center of the meringue and press it back and forth to create a depression in the center of the meringue, leaving a border of about two inches.

If you like, you can use a kitchen knife or the handle of a spatula or wooden spoon to make decorative lines around the 2-inch border of the meringue.

Bake the meringue for 1 and 1⁄2 hours. Turn off the oven. Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and let the meringue cool inside the oven for one hour. The meringue may be made two days in advance. Store it uncovered at room temperature. 

To make the curd: Place the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water in a medium saucepan or a double-boiler. Add the lemon juice and zest to the bowl and cook, whisking occasionally until thick. This takes approximately 30 minutes. Be patient and do not stir too much. If the water in the saucepan boils too fast, turn down the heat. The mixture should be very thick.

Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the margarine one tablespoon at a time. Cool the curd for 10 minutes, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight. To use it right away, put the bowl of curd in a larger bowl filled with 2 to 3 cups of ice cubes and 2 cups of water and let the curd sit until cool, about 30 minutes. Scoop the pulp and seeds out of one of the passion fruits and mix it into the curd. For a more pronounced flavor, whisk in more pulp. 

To assemble the Pavlova: Whip the cream until stiff. Scoop the lemon curd into the meringue shell and spoon the whipped cream on top and around the lemon cream in order to create a whipped cream border. If you prefer, cover all of the curd with the whipped cream. Decorate the cream with sliced fruit. Store in the fridge for up to one day.

Serves 8.

Farfel Cookies
These are thin chocolate chip cookies that get their crunch from toasted matzah pieces. The recipe yields many cookies so find some helpers to assist with dropping the batter onto the cookie sheets.
2 cups matzah farfel (1⁄2-inch or smaller matzah pieces)
1⁄2 cup margarine
1 and 3⁄4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 Tbsps. matzah cake meal
1 cup ground almonds
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.˚

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add the farfel and spread it out in one layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment off the sheet onto a wire rack. Let cool 10 minutes.

Place the margarine into a large heat-proof bowl and melt in the microwave for 45 seconds, or until melted. Add the sugar and use a whisk to stir. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Add the toasted farfel, cake meal, ground almonds and salt, and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix to evenly distribute. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (do not skip this part).

Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop teaspoons of dough onto the parchment, 2-inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown on the edges. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack and let cool. Line the cookie sheets with new pieces of parchment, add more dough and bake, and then repeat for as many batches as needed. Place cooled cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Makes 10 dozen.

Chocolate Caramel Matzah Sandwich Cookies  
This comes courtesy of famous pastry chef Francois Payard’s bakery in New York. He uses cracker-size matzahs. If you find them, you should use them. If not, follow the instructions below for breaking larger mat­zah into the right size.
5 large pieces matzah, or 20 3×3-inch matzah crackers
1 cup sugar
1 and 1⁄2 Tbsps. water
1⁄3 cup dairy-free whipping cream
6 Tbsps. margarine
15 oz. bittersweet chocolate

To make the caramel: Put the sugar and water into a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat but do not stir. Let the mixture sit until the edges start to color and then stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted and the mixture turns a deep amber color. Add the cream and margarine and stir. Transfer to a bowl. Let cool 1 and 1⁄2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the caramel thickens. 

To make the cookies: Break each matzah sheet in half as evenly as possible. Halve each piece again to make four 3-inch squares, roughly. Match up similar sizes and break off pieces of matzah so the squares are the same size.

Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place half of the matzah squares on top. Place a matching square next to each of the matzah squares to serve as its cover. Divide the caramel among the 10 matzahs. The cara­mel will spread by itself, but use a knife, if necessary, to spread the caramel to completely cover the matzah square. Cover the caramel with a matching mat­-zah square to make a sandwich. Repeat with the other squares. Place the sandwiches in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Slide the waxed paper and matzah sandwiches off the cookie sheet onto the counter. Line the cookie sheet with a new piece of waxed paper. 

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt them, either over a double boiler or in the microwave oven as follows: heat the chocolate for 1 minute and stir, heat for another 45 seconds and stir, and then heat for 30 seconds more. Continue to heat and stir, in 15-second increments if needed, until all of the chocolate is melted. 

First, dip all four sides of each matzah sandwich, where you can see the caramel, and then use a pastry brush to spread the chocolate on both matzah sides, covering all exposed matzah with chocolate, choosing one side to cover perfectly. The pastry brush also makes nice lines in the chocolate. Place the dipped sandwiches on the waxed paper with the prettier side facing up. Put the sandwiches in the fridge for 30 minutes to set. 

Refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to three months. 

Serves 10.

Rosemary Nut Brittle
There is no consensus among people when it comes to brittle preferences. Some like the salted version; others prefer the sweeter one. Some people like a very dark and deep caramel flavor; others swear by the lighter caramel candy that allows you to taste the rest of the ingredients. This recipe makes a medium-colored caramel, rather than a darker one, but you can cook it less or more, depending on what you like. 
2 cups mixed shelled nuts, such as blanched almonds, cashews and hazelnuts
1 and 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄3 cup water
1 and 1⁄2 tsps. fresh chopped rosemary, with some pieces 1⁄2-inch long
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, optional

Preheat oven to 325˚. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Scatter the mixed nuts over the parchment paper and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the cookie sheet once or twice, or until the nuts are brown and fragrant. Let them cool. If the hazelnuts have skins, rub a bunch of the nuts together between your palms to loosen the skins, then discard them.

Put the sugar and water in a small or medium saucepan and place it over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture. Let it sit until the sugar starts to color around the edges. This takes a few minutes. Once the sugar looks amber around the edges, use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir the sugar. Continue to cook the mixture on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is almost the color you want it to be and all the sugar has melted.

Add the rosemary and salt, if using, and stir. Add the toasted nuts and stir to coat. Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, to cover all the nuts with the caramel. Use a silicone spatula to spread the nuts on top of the covered cookie sheet. Try to spread them into one layer. Let the caramel cool and then break it into pieces; the shards can be any size you like. Store the candy in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Serves 10 to 12.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here