Passover’s Coming – Treat Your Family to Something New! March 27, 2015

First of all, allow me to apologize for my lengthy silence on this blog.  The past few months have been exceedingly busy as I was finishing my latest novel and spent several weeks caring for one of my daughters after major back surgery. The book is finished and I’m happy to report that my daughter is well on her way to complete recovery so I am gradually getting back to ‘normal’ life.

The wonderful holiday of Passover is just a week away, our annual celebration of God’s amazing miracles in freeing the children of Israel from slavery.  Passover is also an ‘annual review’ for our own souls.  Are we ‘enslaved’ today? Mentally or emotionally? If we find we are – or even suspect that perhaps we are – this is the time to go before the God of Israel and seek greater freedom of soul.

Here in Israel, Passover is a time of great celebration and gatherings with family and friends.  One of the challenges we face is how do we make desserts during this time when no leavening, such as yeast or baking powder, is allowed?  Here are three options which I have made for the past several years which are delicious and fully within the guidelines for Passover baking.

PASSOVER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 sticks of margarine                    1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs                                           1 Tbsp. orange juice

1 1/2 cups matza cake meal         1 tsp. potato starch

1 tsp. salt                                       1 bag chocolate chips (kosher for Passover)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper.

Blend the margarine and sugar with electric mixer until smooth.  Add eggs and mix well.

Add all remaining ingredients except chocolate chips.  Mix thoroughly, scraping the bowl frequently.

Add chocolate chips and blend thoroughly.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes until light brown.

PASSOVER BROWNIES

4 eggs                             2 cups sugar

1 cup melted butter        6 Tbsp. matzo meal

1 cup cocoa powder       1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F or 165C.  Grease an 8×8 pan.

Blend eggs, sugar and butter in mixing bowl.  Stir in the matzo meal, cocoa powder and nuts.

Mix thoroughly then pour into prepared pan.  Bake 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

HEAVENLY PASSOVER CHOCOLATE CAKE

9 eggs, separated               2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa                     3/4 cup oil

1 Tbsp coffee                      3/4 cup potato starch

Preheat oven to 350F or 165C.  In mixer bowl, beat egg whites with half the sugar until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, beat yolks with other half of sugar for several minutes until they become a lemony color.

In small bowl, make a paste of the coffee, oil and cocoa.  Add the paste to the beaten egg yolks and mix well.

Fold in the egg whites, mixing gently and thoroughly.  Add in potato starch until mixtures are well-blended.

Oil a tube pan or use parchment paper.  Pour batter into pan and distribute evenly.

Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Test for doneness. If the top springs back when lightly touched, it’s done.

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And just in case you prefer a non-chocolate option:

Russian Apple Cake

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 3 tablespoons matzo cake meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or a pinch or ground cloves
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Passover Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and side of an 8-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the potato starch and matzo cake meal with the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the almond extract and the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar at medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow and a ribbon forms when the beaters are lifted, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

Spread the apples in the prepared pan in an even layer, then pour the batter evenly over them. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the batter to sink in a little.

Bake for about 1 hour, until it is golden and crisp on top and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 15 minutes. Unmold and transfer to a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm.

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Do let me know how your family enjoys any or all of these Passover desserts. Leave a comment or send me an email at

sophiabarlev@gmail.com

A blessed and healthy Passover to all of you!

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