Passover sweets are tasty for Easter, too
BY NATALIE MIKLES World Scene Writer
Saturday, April 23, 2011
4/24/11 at 3:14 AM
Related story: Easter in a hurry.
The dietary laws for Passover may seem prohibitive, but Jewish cooks have long taken them as an opportunity for creativity.
You could eat matzoh for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but for food-lovers, there's not a lot of fun in that.
After the traditional Seder dinner, the remaining days of Passover are a feast, although kosher and without even a trace of grains or leavening.
At Sweet Sally's, a New York City-based bake shop, Sally Saltzbart Minier ships unleavened sweets all over the country for Passover. The most popular is called the Big Apple Crackle, a chocolate-caramel-covered matzoh.
Chocolate-covered matzoh has become a big hit for people of all faiths. Not only are they selling tons of it at Sweet Sally's, but cookbooks and websites are showing more and more recipes for chocolate-covered matzoh in various forms, including additions such as sea salt, candied ginger and rosemary. To order the Big Apple Crackle, go to tulsaworld.com/sweetsallys
More classic desserts for Passover include coconut macaroons, almond cookies, sponge cake and flourless chocolate cake.
Because Passover and Easter coincide this year, some families are combining their celebrations, which means some Christian families are keeping kosher to make their Jewish friends welcome.
The chocolate-covered matzoh may be a stretch on an Easter table, but many other unleavened desserts, like a flourless cake, would be as welcome for Easter as they are for Passover.
Passover began at sundown Monday and lasts for eight days.
Passover commemorates the exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt. The most dominant food during the holiday is matzoh, or unleavened bread, which is eaten for the eight days of Passover.
Smitten Kitchen tried this addictive dessert with both matzoh and saltine crackers.
Chocolate Caramel Crackers
4 to 6 sheets matzoh or approximately 40 saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.
2. Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzoh or crackers, covering all parts.
3. In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzoh or crackers. You'll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.
4. Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.
5. Remove from the oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you're using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts and/or sea salt. (The sea salt is great on matzoh. On saltines, it's really not necessary.)
6. Once completely cool, break it into pieces and store it in a container. It should keep for a week.
The best part of this cake, from Food Network magazine, is the chocolate-honey glaze.
Flourless Walnut-Date Cake
For the cake:
3 cups walnut halves
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped pitted dates
For the glaze:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine (for kosher) or butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon honey
Chopped toasted walnuts, for topping
1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Put the walnuts, cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse until finely ground but not powdery. Whisk the egg yolks, orange zest and vanilla, if using, in a small bowl.
2. Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until foamy. Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until soft peaks form, about 8 minutes. Fold in the yolk mixture and dates, then fold in the ground walnut mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack, then run a knife along the sides and invert the cake onto a platter.
3. Make the glaze: Put the chocolate, margarine and honey in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the margarine melts, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, then pour over the cake. Top with walnuts.
Note: If you are concerned whether the oils or other ingredients in these recipes are suitable for Passover, seek nondairy substitutes or ingredients that are certified kosher.
This sponge cake, from All Recipes, would be good for Passover or Easter.
Passover Sponge Cake
8 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
3/4 cup matzo cake meal
1/4 cup potato starch
8 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper to line the bottom of a 10 inch tube pan. Do not grease the pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whip egg yolks until light. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and orange zest; continue whipping until thick and pale, about 7 minutes. Sift together the matzo cake meal and potato starch; set aside. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks. Fold the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture alternately with the juice. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake springs back to the touch. Invert onto a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the sides of the cake before removing from the pan.
Natalie Mikles 918-581-8486
Sweet Sally's ships chocolate-caramel-covered matzoh all over the country. Courtesy