I took mini chocolate croissants out of the oven, let them cool briefly, and then dashed out the door with them to go pick up my kids at school. The smell of warm bittersweet chocolate was killing me as the aroma concentrated inside my car. I imagined how excited my kids would be when they were greeted by this bakery scent. Then I patted myself on the back and said to myself, “You rock.” I couldn’t think of anything more awesome than greeting them with pastries just out of oven. Continue reading
Recently, I brought this simple, rustic apple crisp to dinner at my friend’s house. It just doesn’t seem like a healthier dessert because the natural flavors shine through. Continue reading
Many years ago I visited my friend Shayne and her two-week-old baby girl. Shayne was spending her first day home alone with her new baby, and she was nervous. So, I said I’d come over and help. I’m not sure where all my “how hard can this be?” confidence came from as I had no children of my own yet, and Shayne was my first friend to have a baby. In all my naïveté, I arrived wearing white pants, and baby Erin spit up on them within my first 10 minutes in the house. This is how I learned that Clorox 2 is a really good stain remover. Shayne was so grateful for my company that she shared her secret stash of her grandma’s rugelach with me. I think this was the first time I had homemade rugelach, and I was blown away. Homemade rugelach is so much better than the bakery variety, which is also tasty.
My Aunt Rose knew how to create memorable Passover seders. Her table was beautifully set with her best china, linens, and crystal glasses. She cooked for a week making an extensive menu featuring her signature brisket and potato latke muffins. In fact, my aunt Rose was a colorful character herself. She dressed in bright colors and leopard prints. Her sentences were peppered with sarcasm and words in her native language, Yiddish. When I saw her, I always knew I would get a big hug and a satisfying meal. Passover seder at Rose’s house was extra special with a lively, warm atmosphere and scrumptious food.
Now generations have come and gone in my family, and it’s my turn to carry on the tradition and host Passover. I want my kids to have special memories of Passover like I do. Here’s my Passover table at my house:I like to set the table with family heirlooms to remind me of all the special women in my family who have hosted before me. As I prepare favorite family recipes, I feel connected to my mother, grandma and aunts– all amazing home cooks. I still make many of Aunt Rose’s Passover recipes such as haroset, brisket, and potato latke muffins. It just wouldn’t be Passover without those exact flavors. I hope I have done my Aunt Rose proud.
This year I have an outstanding edition to our usual Passover menu– Flourless Nutella Chocolate Cake. This chocolate cake recipe is the best cake I have ever made. It’s flourless, so it’s perfect for Passover. But don’t just serve it once a year. This cake is an impressive finish to any dinner party. What’s amazing about this cake is the texture. My friend Jody called it “Nutella cloud fluff.” The cake has a surprisingly light and smooth texture that I just want to savor. My family is going to flip when they taste it.
Passover tip: Nutella is made with soy lecithin. If that’s not something you eat during Passover, you can substitute with another chocolate or chocolate hazelnut spread like Hashahar H’aole Special Cocoa Spread (parve and kosher for Passover). I found it at a local kosher market. Many online kosher markets carry it as well.
I came upon this recipe for Flourless Nutella Chocolate Cake on the blog Ms Adventures in Italy. The original recipe lists the ingredients by weight in grams and requires a food scale. I have adapted the recipe so it can be made by volume with cups and teaspoons. Also, I added sea salt as a foil to the sweetness and added hazelnut liqueur to accentuate the hazelnut flavor.
Make the cake in 3 stages:
This Passover recipe post is part of a “Cyber-Seder.” Five other food bloggers and I joined together to do what we love to do– share recipes and our personal memories of Passover. We hope you enjoy reading about our diverse backgrounds, which are reflected in our recipes. To join our “Cyber-Seder” and see more Passover recipes, click on the links at the bottom of the post.
|Flourless Nutella Chocolate Cake|| |
- Cocoa powder and butter to grease the pan
- 6 large eggs (to be separated)
- 3-1/2 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped (3-1/2 squares of Baker's Chocolate or 2 scored sections of a Scharffen Berger chocolate baking bar)
- 1-3/4 sticks of butter (14 tablespoons), cut into pieces
- ¾ cup scant Nutella (or any chocolate hazelnut spread)
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or coffee granules
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur (or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- Powdered sugar to decorate the top
- This recipe uses 3 bowls that will be combined at the end. Bowl 1 is for chocolate and needs to be microwaveable. Bowl 2 is for egg yolks and needs to be the largest bowl. Bowl 3 is for egg whites and goes with the mixer. The first step is to separate the eggs into their respective bowls. Eggs separate more easily when cold. Then set eggs aside because egg whites gain more volume when beaten at room temperature.
- Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper or grease the pan with butter and lightly dust with cocoa powder to prevent sticking. Place the oven rack on the second level from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (175C). If using convection oven, lower the temperature by about 12 degrees F.
- The chocolate bowl: melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave at 50% power. Stir after every 30-60 seconds until smooth. Do not overcook. Alternatively, the chocolate mixture can be melted in a double boiler over the stove, but it will take longer. Remove chocolate bowl to the counter. While still warm, stir in the Nutella, espresso, liqueur, and salt. Mix with a whisk until fully incorporated. The Nutella will completely melt.
- The yolk bowl: whisk the yolks and sugar together until well combined. Then add the chocolate mixture into the yolk bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- The egg whites bowl: beat the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until peaks form. The peaks should be between soft and stiff, but not dry.
- Add the beaten egg whites to the chocolate/yolk mixture. Gently fold together with a large rubber spatula. Use as few strokes as necessary to fully incorporate. If a few stubborn clumps of egg whites remain, whisk the batter a few quick times to finish the incorporation.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. If your springform leaks, place a piece of aluminum foil under the pan in the oven for the first 5 minutes of baking, then remove. The cake will puff near the top of pan at the end of baking. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Jiggle the pan slightly-- if the center sways more than the rest of the cake, it is not ready. The cake should not be completely solid when finished.
- As the cake cools, it will crack on the surface and deflate substantially. Once cool, dust with powdered sugar for decoration.
Cyber Seder Recipe Links:
Nancy Rose Eisman from Adventures with Nancy Rose – Cyber Seder and Moroccan Fava Bean and Potato Soup
Rachel Kaganoff Stern from Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen — Matzo Strata With Tomatoes and Zucchini
Deena Wachtel from Stay at Home Foodie – Roasted Spring Vegetables
Susan Licht Salzman from The Urban Baker – Claire’s Brisket
Jillena Hernandes from Eat Well Live Free – Passover Sweet Potato Latkes, Apple Butter and Charoset
I have been on the hunt for a great Passover macaroon recipe. I let a room full of friends be my taste-testers, and this chocolate macaroon came up the winner. The cookie is moist, chewy, and a wonderful showcase for chocolate. This chocolate macaroon is a holiday treat that I look forward to sharing with my family. Since many friends requested the recipe, I promised I would post it here.
Here’s how my macaroon recipe hunt started. Although I bake, I had never made macaroons before. When I researched recipes, I discovered that there are so many variations. Some recipes call for eggs whites or matzo cake flour or sweetened condensed milk, and some do not. Some are made with sweetened coconut, whereas others use unsweetened. The proportions in different recipes vary wildly. The multitude of choices was overwhelming.
As I was reading recipes, this chocolate macaroon by cookbook author Marlene Sorosky was a stand out. I especially like the addition of coffee which accentuates the chocolate flavor. The small amount of coffee does not impart a detectable coffee taste to the cookie, but it has a divine effect. The coffee adds a depth of flavor because it registers on the taste buds at a different time than the chocolate and sugar, thus lengthening the amount of time the cookie is enjoyed– much like a fine wine. Also, the coffee is a counterbalance to the sweet ingredients, so the cookie is rich but not overly sweet.
After I picked the recipe, I went off to the market to get sweetened coconut so that I could get started. Once in the baking aisle, I went to grab the coconut, only to discover that it too comes in many different versions– shredded, flaked, shaved, and grated, to be exact. I stood there not knowing which one to pick. It felt like the Home Depot phenomenon where unexpectedly I have more choices that I ever imagined, and I don’t quite understand the nuances. After much deliberation, I hedged my bet and ended up buying both shredded and flaked sweetened coconut. In the end, both types of coconut came out well, but my first choice is shredded.
I adapted Marlene Sorosky’s recipe from her cookbook Fast & Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays. I took out the nuts, and then changed the ratio of coconut to condensed milk to compensate for removing the nuts and to match the size of cans and packages that are commonly sold in the market today. I also added vanilla to enhance the flavor. Do not fear that this batter has slightly more liquid than the average macaroon and that the cookies come out a little flatter. I tested and re-tested the recipe, and it comes out amazingly delicious. If you are worried about the batter spreading while baking, refrigerate the batter between making batches, and do not place the batter on warm cookie sheets.
Best of all, these cookies are quick and easy to make. The recipe uses a small number of ingredients and whips up in one bowl without a mixer. This is definitely a recipe where little kids can help because there is nothing fussy about the recipe. These cookies are not your typical, dry, second-rate Passover dessert. They are rich and satisfying, and I can’t wait to serve these cookies for the holidays.
Recipe for Chocolate Macaroons
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from Marlene Sorosky’s Fast and Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays
Cooking spray- optional
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (2 squares)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
1 tablespoon strong coffee or 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 pinches of sea salt
1 bag (7 ounces) shredded sweetened coconut (about a heaping 2-1/2 cups)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you have a convection bake setting, use it and set the temperature to between 350 and 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Put parchment paper on each cookie sheet. Optional- spray parchment with cooking spray for easier cookie removal.
2. Place the chocolate in a medium size microwaveable bowl. Microwave the chocolate on 50% power for about 3 minutes or until chocolate is just melted. Do not over-cook. Stir chocolate so that it has a uniform smooth consistency.
3. Add milk, vanilla, coffee, and salt; stir to combine well. Then add the coconut and combine evenly.
4. Using 2 teaspoons, drop the batter on to the prepared cookie sheets making small rounds about a teaspoon in size each. Leave room for the cookies to spread a little.
5. Bake the cookies for 10-13 minutes, or until the bottoms are set and you see a little of the coconut start to get slightly brown. The cookies will be soft, but will firm up when cooled. Carefully slide the parchment paper with the cookies still attached to a cooling rack. Wait until the cookies have completely cooled before removing from the paper; otherwise, the cookies will stick and tear. Gently grip a cookie and slowly peel back the paper to separately the cookies and paper. Run a metal spatula under cookies if necessary. Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days or freeze.