Memorable Pesach desserts are the ones that are delicious and just happen to be kosher for Pesach.
One of the big debates of Pesach is what the best dessert is.
We’ve all have had flourless chocolate tortes, macaroons and weird mock chocolate chip and farfel raisin cookies that we swear are delicious (delicious for Pesach, that is).
Yes, chocolate-covered strawberries, sponge cake and mandelbrot also figure in the top 10, but, seriously, when are we going to just say these recipes are all “OK” but not really terrific.
In my opinion, really great Pesach desserts are the ones that are delicious and just happen to be kosher for Pesach.
Don’t misunderstand — I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t use matzah or matzah meal in your holiday dessert. However, in my opinion — it just can’t taste like you used it if you include it.
The following recipes are ones that I use or have used for the past few Pesachs and all of them meet the “I’d serve it even if it weren’t Pesach” test.
Pesach Crust — Sweet or Savory
21⁄4 cups finely ground nuts or nut flour
For Sweet Crust:
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp. of ginger powder, cinnamon, cocoa, lemon zest or vanilla
For Savory Crust:
1⁄4 cup white sugar
1⁄4 tsp. pepper and salt
1⁄2 tsp. dill or basil, garlic powder or oregano
Preheat oven to 350˚.
In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the sweet or savory crust. Mix to combine. Put the crust mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Press the nut mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Push the top edge to make it even.
Using a fork, poke the bottom of the pan 4 or 5 times. Bake for no more than 15 to 17 minutes. Do not overcook; the nuts can burn very quickly. Remove and cool completely before filling.
You can fill the sweet pie crust with sliced fresh berries and heat apricot jam to glaze the top.
For the savory crust, you can use roasted vegetables, and top them with Parmesan, scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms.
Apricot Matzah Souffle
4 large apples, Granny Smith or any tart apple, cored and cut into medium dice
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 cup orange juice
6-7 matzah sheets, broken into small pieces
1 tsp. salt
2 tsps. cinnamon
11⁄2 cups white sugar
1⁄2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
cinnamon sugar mix (optional)
4 Tbsps. butter or margarine, cut into small pieces, for casserole topping
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and set it aside.
In a bowl combine the apples with the brown sugar and 1⁄4 cup orange juice. Mix to coat and set aside.
In a bowl combine 1⁄2 cup of warm water and 1⁄4 cup orange juice. Add the matzah pieces and let them soak until soft but not mushy.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Whisk to combine then add the melted butter, raisins and apricots. Mix to combine.
Drain the liquid from the softened matzah (just use your hands) and add the matzah mixture to the egg mixture. Mix, then add the apples and mix to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the nuts and cinnamon sugar over the top, if using. Dot the top with the small pieces of butter or margarine.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for at least 10 minutes before serving.
You can also make this recipe up to 2 days ahead and reheat.
Date Nut Torte
11⁄2 cups pitted chopped dates
1⁄4 cup orange juice (heated in the microwave for 30 seconds)
4 large eggs, separated
11⁄2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
3⁄4 cup sugar, divided
2⁄3 cup matzah meal
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. salt
Passover powdered sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 350˚. Generously grease a 9×2-inch round cake pan and then lightly dust with matzah meal
Place the dates in a bowl and pour hot orange juice over them. Let set for 15 minutes then whisk the yolks into date mixture. Set the mixture aside
In the bowl of a food processor combine the walnuts and 1⁄4 cup sugar and pulse until finely ground. Add the matzah meal, zest and cinnamon and pulse to combine.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and beat until you have stiff peaks.
Fold the yolk mixture in the white mixture one-third at a time. Fold the nut mixture into the egg mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan.
You can dust the top with powdered sugar before serving.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer and the author of Perfectly Pareve.