holiday baking: Pesach edition


What do you do before Passover? Clean. A lot.

And then make a bloody mess.

There are a lot of great things about Pesach, but dessert, traditionally, has not been one of them. When you’re not able to use corn products or flour, you either have to be creative or resign yourself to the denser-than-star-matter bricks of honey cake or macaroons and whatever else comes from the box mixes. Suffering through the less-than-stellar offerings Manischiewitz has to offer is, sadly, part of the tradition for almost everyone. Especially because Pesach usually comes far too early in the season for good fruit.

Last year, however, I put my foot down. So did quite a few other food bloggers and there was a wealth of ideas floating about. I tried a trio of recipes that turned out pretty well.


The star was my first flourless chocolate torte. This was really good – it’s almost a pound of Valrhona, so how could it be otherwise? – and I sadly got only a taste after certain individuals decided to carry off the leftovers. I didn’t try it again this year because my oven’s been a little balky and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off a cake. Next year, though.

The other revelation from last year’s trials was almendrados, which are almond macaroons that are fabulously simple with respect to ingredients (1 egg, 1 cup sugar divided, 2 cups almonds, 1 zested lemon) and practically idiotproof and require little preparation except for a long rest. These I repeated this year:


The other treat wasn’t a debut, but it was the first time I’d gotten them to work out at all. These chocolate cookies have confounded me for a while – I’ve never been able to get them firm enough to roll into balls, which meant that I’d end up with flat pancakes of chocolate goodness and not actual three-dimensional cookies.

But, somehow, they worked this time. Maybe it was because I had to adulterate the recipe to be kosher le-pesach. Essentially, I had to swap out the cornstarch for potato starch, but I had to do it twice because I had to make my own powdered sugar – regular store-bought powdered sugar already has some cornstarch in it. The process for that is fairly straightforward, although good luck on finding agreement on the ratios. I think I went with 1TB starch per 1C granulated sugar. Throw it in the blender and let it go far longer than you think you do, and there you are, kl-p powdered sugar.

But it does make a mess.

The results, however, are worth it. I didn’t roll the cookies in powdered sugar – they’re really sweet enough, I think – but they are fabulously rich and decadent.



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