“Fudgy” Haroset Brownies

It is hard to get a chef to part with a special recipe and when you finally get the recipe out of them, they may leave out key ingredients so that when you try to make it at home, it doesn’t taste like you had at their restaurant. I can understand why they don’t want to give away all of their secrets because chefs, cookbook authors and some bloggers work very hard at perfecting their recipes, and they don’t want to give them away for free.

This story rings true with Mr. BT’s haroset recipe. This recipe was a closely guarded secret of my husband’s and I have been trying for years to get his permission to post his recipe, but he has always refused. But this year, he finally gave in and is letting me post, well…..most of the real recipe. This version will still taste good, but he just couldn’t part with a few secret ingredients.

I introduced Mr. BT to Venetian-style haroset when we first met and he loved it at first taste. He decided to try making his own version, which he has perfected over the years, and it is the best I have ever had. It is not for the weary and some people will be shocked by its powerful punch.

Faye Levy’s Passover article on Haroset in the LA Times contains five delicious recipes, but the one that I had to try was the Haroset Bars. I had been searching for something new to make for the seder and this was perfect since we always have leftover haroset. I adapted her recipe because Mr BT’s haroset is already sweet enough and packed with dried fruit. I also substituted walnut meal for matza meal. I do not usually bake with matza meal.

My recipe produced a very moist bar and some of my relatives used a fork to eat them instead of using their hands, but that is probably because we are a little too European :-) to eat dessert with our hands. I grew up eating fruit with a knife and fork, but I have learned to eat it with my hands. It took me years to eat fried chicken with my hands.

I think the marriage of haroset and chocolate was meant to be. This is definitely a recipe I will make again and again.

I hope that you and your family had a lovely Passover holiday.

Chag Sameach!


"Fudgy" Haroset Brownies

Yield: 24 small bars, 16 large

Adapted recipe by Faye Levy

1/2 cup ground walnuts or almond flour

1/4 cup potato starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

113g (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, soft, cut in small pieces

3 tablespoons mild olive oil

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2.4 ounces)

1-1/2 cup (packed) haroset with Mr. BT's World Famous Thermonuclear Haroset (see below) or Faye's haroset

2 large eggs

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with foil and butter the foil.

In a medium bowl, mix the ground walnuts, potato starch and salt.

In a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, or in a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth. Add the oil and the brown sugar; beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, beating thoroughly on high speed after each one. Add 4 tablespoons of the ground walnut mixture and beat over low speed. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining ground walnut mixture. Stir in the haroset and chocolate pieces.

Transfer the batter to the pan and spread it in an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts and pat them lightly so they adhere to the batter. Bake until the top browns lightly and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean, 18 to 22 minutes; if the wooden pick comes out chocolaty, test again. Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack.

Turn the brownies out gently onto a plate, then onto another plate or a cutting board so that the walnuts are on top. Using a sharp knife, cut it carefully into 16 bars. Serve at room temperature.


Mr. BT's World Famous Thermonuclear Haroset

Yield: 6 cups

Mr. BT's World Famous Thermonuclear Haroset

4 large Granny Smith apples, cored, but unpeeled and cut to 1/2 cm (1/4-inch, but really 1/5th) dice

Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

150g (6 ounces) chopped walnuts

150g (6 ounces) chopped almonds

150g (6 ounces) dried Mediterranean apricots, cut into eighths

12 dried figs, stems removed, cut into twelfths

12 large Madjhool dates, pitted, quartered along its length, cut into fifths

12 pitted prunes, cut into eighths

150g (6 ounces) golden raisins

150g (6 ounces) dark raisins

1 cup sweet kosher wine

1/4 cup brandy

1/2 cup date honey (Silan)

3/4 cup sweet chestnut paste

Grated rind and juice of one orange

1/2 knob (about 1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a micro-plane

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Place the apples in a large bowl and add the lemon juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add more spices and sweet wine to taste.



Eccles Cakes for Tu Bishvat

Eccles Cakes


I don’t know why, but I have always had a fascination with mincemeat. I don’t even remember the first time I ate this boozy filling in a pie, but I must have been a child and for some strange reason this little girl, who was quite a picky eater, when it came to new foods and food with strange names, never questioned whether there really was meat in this rather sweet and spicy dessert. I just thought it tasted good. Flash forward to 1982 and my first trip to the island across the pond: I remember having an Eccles Cake at a picnic at Windsor Great Park watching Prince Charles miss the wooden ball during the Queen’s Cup polo match. I don’t think it was the best Eccles Cake I have ever had, but it was the beginning of my love affair with them.

Eccles Cakes were first sold in 1793 in a shop in the village of Eccles, which is now part of Greater Manchester, but the original recipe may have been adapted from a cookbook from 1769 called The Experienced English House-Keeper by Mrs. Elizabeth Raffald, who was from Cheshire. The author called them “Sweet Patties” and the filling contained the meat of a boiled calf’s foot (gelatine), apples, oranges, nutmeg, egg yolk, currants and French brandy.

Nowadays, you will find all types of additions to the “traditional” Eccles Cake filling, but the traditional filling is the same as the recipe I adapted from Dan Lepard: currants, lemon zest and brandy. I added candied peel, which might horrify traditionalists, but I like the added flavour. You might even find recipes with spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, but I think this takes away from the lovely naked fruity taste of the currants , and you should never, ever, use puff pastry, because then you would not be able to call them Eccles Cakes any more; they would have to be called Chorley cakes.

I think they are nice to eat any time, but this year they were a tasty treat for our Tu Bishvat table. Dan Lepard’s recipe is easy to make and the dough is a dream to work with; yes, it is a little time-consuming, but well worth it. These make rather large cakes, which you could easily make into 24 smaller cakes for a more reasonable portion.

Note: I found the currants at Eden Teva Market in Netanya.


Eccles Cakes

Yield: 12 large or 24 small

Adapted recipe from Dan Lepard

Note: I have tried to convert the measurements as precisely as I can for the American readers, but it is better to use the precise metric measurements if you have a scale.

For the pastry

400 grams (4 cups) strong white flour (I used '00')

1 tsp salt

25 grams (2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

175g (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

50g (3-1/2 tablespoons) butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

1 medium egg yolk (keep the egg white for later)

100ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) cold water

75ml (1/3 cup) cold milk or cold water

For the filling

500g (18 oz) Zante currants

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1 tablespoon candied orange peel, finely chopped

1 tablespoon candied lemon peel, finely chopped

100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

Demerara sugar

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and add the butter or margarine. Whisk the egg yolk with the water and milk or just water, and mix with the flour to a firm dough. Wrap, chill for 30-60 minutes, then, dusting the work surface with a little flour, roll into a 2cm (3/4-inch) thick rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, then re-roll it to the same size and fold again. Wrap and chill for 30-60 minutes. Repeat the double roll, fold and chill twice more.

Eccles Cakes Filling

Place the currants in a bowl, pour 500ml (2 cups) of boiling water and set aside for five minutes. Drain thoroughly, then mix the currants with the lemon zest, candied lemon and orange, butter or margarine and brandy, and put in the refrigerator while finishing preparing the dough.

Eccles Cakes Dough

Roll the pastry to 2cm (3/4-inch) thick, cut in half and keep one half chilled while you roll the other half into a 0.25cm (1/15-inch) thick rectangle. Cut the dough into six (12 for the smaller version) equal squares.

Eccles Cakes Filled

Place a 50-60g (3-1/2 to 4 tablespoons) ball of currants (or half that if you are making the smaller cakes) in the centre of each one, dampen the edges with water and pinch them together to form a tight seal so the filling will not spill out.

Eccles Cakes Ready for Egg Wash

Flip it over, round the shape with your fingers, roll out slightly to flatten and place them seam down on a baking tray lined with a silpat or nonstick paper. Repeat with the other pastry and filling.

Eccles Cakes Ready for Oven

Brush with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sugar, slash the tops and bake at 200C (180C fan-assisted)/390F for about 30 minutes.



Cookies Perfect for Passover

I remember Passovers past at my grandparents’ and parents’ houses were always large and boisterous with at least 25-30 people attending, spread over two or three tables. We always invited friends who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and also the stray Jewish soldiers who were “stuck” at Fort McClellan during their basic training. Occasionally, we had a visiting Israeli soldier or two share the seder with us. I really miss these seders, my grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, the wonderful food, the family tunes, waiting for Uncle Alfred or Papa to proudly read the last stanza of “Had Gadya” in one breath, ribbing my uncle Don about watering my wine, misbehaving at the “children’s” table (some of who were over 30), and the seder discussions. I must admit that I am more than teary-eyed as I am writing this post.

The seder was always a grand affair: the unveiling of the grand china, crystal, and silver, the beautiful way Alberta plated the individual servings of the haroset, hard-boiled egg and karpas. The lamb that my father carefully slathered with mustard and basted every 30 minutes, the minted peas in lettuce cups, the wild rice mixture or boiled new potatoes, and the pièce de résistance, the matza balls swimming in golden chicken soup. For dessert, Mama’s lovingly-made matza schalet with its beautiful crunchy crust and creamy lemon custard with just the right sourness.

Since moving to Israel, we attend the seder at my cousin’s or their in-laws where we share their seder traditions and variety of food from Poland, Bulgaria and  Russia: gefilte fish, fritas de prasa, and matza blini. The younger generations add their own traditions like rocket and endive salad with walnuts and pears. And, Mr BT and I are bringing new traditions to their seder: Italian haroset and whatever flourless dessert tickles my fancy.

This year I decided to bring a tray of cookies and found two easy and delicious recipes for fudgy chocolate-walnut cookies and a variation of Sicilian pistachio cookies which Mr BT and I enjoyed eating at a bakery in Venice. Both of these cookies were a huge hit. I really liked the salty-sweetness of the pistachio cookies, and the other cookies were a chocolate lover’s delight. I couldn’t find any orange blossom water for the pistachio cookies as I had wanted, but it will add a slight orangey floral note.

Don’t be afraid to add new traditions to your seder table. There is always room for the old and new traditions.

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Yield: 1-1/2 dozen

320g (9oz or 2-3/4 cups) walnut halves

3 cups icing (confectioners') sugar

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites, at room temperature, not beaten

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Spread the walnut halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and finely chop them.

In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar with the cocoa powder and salt to combine. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not over beat the mixture or it will stiffen). Spoon a tablespoon of the batter for each cookie onto the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 16- 20 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Flourless Pistachio Cookies

Pastine di Pistacchio

Yield: 1 dozen

(Flourless Pistachio Cookies)

190g (7oz) pistachios (roasted and salted)

100g (3.5 oz) almond meal

120 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

2 egg whites, room temperature, not beaten

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

A few drops of green food colouring (optional)

Icing (confectioners') sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Grind 90 grams of the pistachios finely and set aside. Chop the remaining 100 grams roughly and place in a plate or flat bowl for rolling.

Put the finely ground pistachios, almond meal, sugar, egg whites, optional orange blossom water and optional food colouring in a large bowl. Mix just until the batter is moistened, do not over beat. If the batter is too moist, add a little more almond meal.

Form one tablespoon of the batter into balls and roll in the chopped pistachios. Place the cookies about 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) apart and bake for approximately 13 minutes. Let cook for 10 minutes before moving to a baking rack. Dust with icing sugar, when cooled.


Makroud – Date and Sesame Biscuits

Makroud and Qamar el Deen

I wanted to make a traditional Ramadan dessert this month, a recipe that called for mahleb, which is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry (Prunus mahaleb). The stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is ground to a powder before it is used. It adds a lovely flavor of bitter almond and cherry to breads, cakes and biscuits.

I found a perfect date and sesame biscuit recipe called Makroud that is made by Israeli Muslims and Palestinians. There are several variations of Makroud that are also made in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, but this version is not as sweet.

Mr BT and I would like to wish all of our Muslim friends Ramadan Kareem.


Makroud – Date and Sesame Biscuits

Yield: 70 to 80 biscuits

(Date and Sesame Biscuits)

Adapted recipe from the Safadi Family of Nazareth in The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey by Janna Gur

For the dough:

500g (3-1/2 cups) whole wheat flour

15g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast

240ml (1 cup) corn oil

120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/2 tablespoon mahleb, freshly ground in a mortar

220ml (1 cup) lukewarm water

For the filling:

500g (1lb 2oz) pressed pitted dates

60ml (1/4 cup) corn oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch ground cloves

For the coating:

450g (1lb) sesame seeds

For the dough:

Place the flour, crumbled yeast and spices in a large bowl. Add the corn and olive oils and stir until well combined. Gradually add the water and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes into a soft smooth dough. Set aside.

For the filling:

Mix the pressed dates with the oil and spices until it becomes a soft, malleable paste.

To assemble:

Divide the dough into balls the size of a fist and divide the date paste into the same number of balls. Both the dough and the date balls may be dripping with oil: this is normal.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

On a large work surface, sprinkle a generous amount of sesame seeds. Flatten a ball of dough into a round the size of a pita. Flatten out a date ball and place it on top of the dough. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and turn the dough over and roll out to the size of a dinner plate. The sesame seeds will prevent the dates from sticking to the work surface. Turn the dough over again, date side up and roll the dough to form a log shape. Repeat with the remainder.

Cut the logs into 5cm-wide (2-inch) biscuits and place on baking sheets. You do not have to place them too far apart because they do not spread. Bake for 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Serve slightly cooled or store up to a month in a sealed container.


Shavuot Ideas – Saffron Semifreddo with a Dried Cherry-Cardamom Sauce and Almond-Orange Financiers

Chocolate is most people’s guilty pleasure, but my guilty pleasure is ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but luscious Italian gelato, preferably eaten in Italy at one of my favorite gelateria, Perche No!, in Firenze, or in Israel at Gelateria Siciliana on Ibn Givrol in Tel Aviv.

I also enjoy making my own ice cream and sorbet at home, which I have blogged in several posts here.

The final course for the dinner party last week was a recipe for semifreddo that intrigued me from the moment I saw it on the Food52 website. Semifreddo literally means “half-frozen” and is a frozen dessert that has a mousse-like texture from equal parts of ice cream custard and whipped double (heavy) cream.

I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all and even made the salted-honey hazelnuts, but in the rush of trying to serve the dessert, I forgot to plate them. It was actually better in the end because it would have been too much of a taste contrast with the mini almond-orange financiers I served on the side. The dessert was a huge hit, which made me very happy since Mimi was afraid that some of the guests might not like the taste of saffron. I used a very high quality saffron that I had been keeping for a special occasion.

Sarah, from Foodbridge, brought a large bag filled with Surinam Cherries, also known as Pitanga in Brazil. They were a perfect decoration for the top of the semifreddo and were also quite delicious. I had never had them before but they  remind me of cherries, which as my faithful readers know is one of my favorite fruits.

Mimi suggested that we serve an alternative to the semifreddo, so I decided to make mini financiers which I baked in a silcone chocolate mold that can withstand up to 220C (425F). Financiers are a light teacake, similar to sponge cake, and are usually made of almond flour, a beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, icing sugar and flour. Financiers are often baked in rectangular-shaped molds which are suppose to resemble a bars of gold. You can find these molds in cooking shops, such as 4Chef, in Tel Aviv.

The dessert was a huge hit and I will definitely make this again. I made the semifreddo a couple of days in advance and made the financiers the day before, but you could easily make these several days before and freeze them.

The dessert was served with Mimi’s delicious homemade liqueurs. On offer were lemoncello, geranium, apricot, strawberry and coffee. I love all of them, but my personal favorite is apricot.

Saffron Semifreddo with Cherry Cardamom Syrup and Salted Honey Hazelnuts

Serving Size: 6

For the Saffron semifreddo:

5 large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon high quality saffron threads

1 tablespoon sweet vermouth

1 cup double (heavy) cream

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom, toasted

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup filtered water

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons honey

For the Saffron semifreddo:

Bring a small saucepan or double boiler with water to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Have an ice water bath big enough for the base of the double boiler or mixing bowl on standby.

In a medium glass bowl or the pan of a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and saffron threads. Place the bowl or pan over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.

Remove from heat and submerge in the ice water bath, continuing to stir to bring down the temperature. If the mixture gets too cold and is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it will release easily if you run hot water on the outside of the bowl.

Beat the heavy cream in a mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Place the egg yolk mixture and the sweet vermouth in the bowl of mixer with a whip attachment, and whip until the mixture becomes thick and pale in color.

Add a third of the whipped cream to the egg mixture and stir together gently. Fold in the remaining whipped cream into the egg mixture. When this is done, you can spoon the mixture into 6 individual ramekins, or place it in a plastic cellophane lined loaf pan, or decorative silicone mold of your choice. Cover the ramekins or other container with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. To serve, run a butter knife under hot water and cut around the edge of the ramekin to invert the semifreddo onto individual plates. Serve with the cherry-cardamom syrup and salted honey-hazelnuts (recipes to follow).

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

Combine all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) degrees.

Place the hazelnuts in a small mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and sea salt. Add honey and toss once more to coat. Transfer the nuts to a silpat-lined baking sheet and bake, stirring at least once, until the nuts are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once the hazelnuts have cooled, roughly chop the nuts and serve alongside the semifreddo.



Almond-Orange Financiers

Yield: 21 5 x 10-cm (2 x 4-inch) financiers or 50 mini

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds

140g (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds

210g (1-2/3 cups) icing (confectioner's) sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Zest of one large orange

Pinch of salt

5 large egg whites

185 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

With a pastry brush, butter the financier molds with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange them side-by-side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to re-solidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, orange zest and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the 3/4 cup of butter and mix until blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200C (400F). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold.

(Note: If you are using metal Financier molds, then wash them immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.


P is for Patience and Passover

Spring has sprung all over Israel. Almond trees, hollyhocks and other indigenous wildflowers are all in bloom. And spring means we have moved our clocks forward and are now frantically preparing our homes for seven days of Passover, which starts tomorrow night. A time where we have to get rid of every little speck of bread, flour, etc. that may be still hanging around the house. It is a holiday where you need a lot of patience; something that I have a lack of, I must admit. Yes, Mr. BT, I really am admitting that I, Baroness Tapuzina, am impatient.

We are going to be spending the seder with my cousins and so I don’t have to prepare a full seder this year, which is a good thing since I have spent the last several days coughing up both lungs. Yes, my body picked the worst time to have an upper respiratory infection. The good news is that this evening is the first time I haven’t had numerous coughing fits, so I think I am on the mend.

Mr. BT spent a good portion of the morning making his top secret, often imitated, but never duplicated, unbelievably delicious haroset. If the Pharoah had tasted this, he would have let our people go for the recipe, but I fear that Mr. BT wouldn’t have given it up. Would you believe that he won’t even let me watch him make it? And, I am the one who educated him about other haroset than the standard Ashkenazi ones.

I was tired of making the same almond flour-based cakes that I make every year, so I decided to challenge myself and make something I have been wanting to try for years, but was afraid that I wouldn’t have the patience to make them successfully: the French macaroon. I know, I am crazy to make something new for something as important as the Seder, but I really needed the challenge. What I didn’t need was a challenge when I felt like crap, but I had already bought the ingredients and I knew my loving husband would help me, wouldn’t you honey?

So, I read every blog post I could find about making macaroons. Some said to stay away like the plague (they didn’t say which one of the ten), others said after the 9th try you will get them right and don’t make the batter too thick or too thin. But, I didn’t let them scare me.

One of the most important things you must have to make a macaroon is a scale. It is very important to have exact measurements for this recipe. Scales are relatively inexpensive now. I purchased a nice digital scale for 55NIS/10GBP/15USD.

I cracked four eggs the day before I made the macaroons and let the egg whites “rest” in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Some people let them sit on the counter for 24-48 hours, but I was not too keen on leaving them out even though it is still cool enough to do that here. Every post, including Pierre Herme’s recipe, says that you should use old egg whites, meaning ones that have not been separated the same day you make the biscuits.

The other important part of making the perfect macaroon is to have feet on the outside of the biscuit. My macaroons did not have happy feet or any other kind of feet. I guess that will happen on my 9th try. And there will be another try. I must have my feet.

The macaroons turned out okay and surprisingly they did not try my impatience.  No, they don’t have happy feet and some of them wouldn’t come off the silpat, but I was able to salvage 40 out of the 70 I ended up making. I filled them with Rosemarie chocolate filling that I purchased at one of my favorite cooking shops, Touch Food.  I am presenting these macaroons as a gift for the host and hostess, instead of serving them as dessert for the seder.

We want to wish you and your family a happy, healthy and peaceful Pesach. And also Happy Easter.

Chag kosher v’sameach,

Baroness Tapuzina and Mr. BT

P.S. – Keep checking the blog. I am going to make a few new dishes during the week.

French Macaroons

Yield: about 25 filled or 50 unfilled

225g icing sugar

125g ground almonds

125g egg whites (from about 3 large eggs, but do weigh it out)

A few drops of lemon juice

25g caster (granulated) sugar

Food coloring of your choice (follow directions on box)

Place the egg whites in a bowl and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. Bring them to room temperature before you start making the macaroons.

Put the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor until you have a fine powder. Stop halfway through and loosen any bits that may have clumped in the bottom of the processor bowl.

Sift the almond mixture into a large mixing bowl several times, removing any of the chunky almond bits in the sifter.

Put the room temperature egg whites into a clean metal mixing bowl and whisk until they start to hold their shape. Add a few drops of lemon juice, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar in two lots until the whites form stiff peaks. Finally, whisk in the food coloring until well combined.

Mix one-third of the whites into the dry ingredients. Then tip the rest of the whites on top and, gently fold them in with a spatula, using a figure-eight motion. It will be stiff at first, but it will gradually loosen. You want it to be smooth and glossy, but not too liquidy. The texture is very important and tricky to judge: when you fold the mixture, it should form a ribbon on the surface. Too runny, and you’ll end up with flat crisps; too stiff, and it’s meringue.

Take your piping bag, fitted with an 8mm plain nozzle and fill the bag with the macaroon mix. Then turn up the sides and twist to seal the mixture inside to get rid of any air so that when you squeeze the bag, a solid stream of mixture comes out of the nozzle.

On about three baking trays that have been lined with silpat liners or parchment paper, pipe a round, 2cm-diameter (1-inch) blob (by squeezing the closed end of the bag). Lift the nozzle sharply to finish the blob. Repeat, leaving about 2cm (1-inch) around each one to allow for spreading (they should spread to about 3cm (1-1/2-inches). Continue until all the mixture has been piped – you should have about 50-60 blobs in all.

If any of the macaroons have nipples, smooth them gently with a wet finger. Let the macaroons rest for 45 minutes. This helps them to form a smooth shell when baked. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 130C (260F) fan (or 140C/280F).

Bake the macaroons in the middle of the oven, one tray at a time. After 5 or 6 minutes, they should start to rise, forming a lacy collar around the bottom. Cook for a total of 12-15 minutes – don’t let them burn. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the trays. You should then be able to remove them gently by moving the silpat liner away from the macaroon. If not, carefully ease off with a knife.

Pair macaroon shells of similar size and sandwich together with 1-2 tsp of the filling of your choice. Eat immediately, or keep in the fridge for a day to enable the flavour of the filling to enhance the macaroon.


Tu Bishvat Fruit & Nut Bars

We went to a lovely memorial service for my cousin who died on Tu Bishvat and in his blessed (z”l) memory his synagogue planted a almond tree in their garden. I can’t wait to see the beautiful almond blooms next spring. I really miss my cousin Michael: his wonderful laugh, his boundless knowledge, and his dry sense of humor. He was there for me when I needed him and I feel a deep void when the holidays come around.

I have written about the origins of Tu Bishvat before and I always try to make a dish with dried fruits and nuts in observance of this minor holiday. I decided to make very simple, but delicious fruit and nut bars from the seemingly endless supply of dried fruits and nuts that are sold daily in every shuk and supermarket around the country. The recipe looks a bit strange because you will think that there can’t possibly be enough batter to bake into bars, but it works, and the brown sugar does not make the bars sickeningly sweet.

Fruit and Nut Bars

Yield: 16 bars

1/3 cup of flour

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup cranberries

3/4 cup dates, pitted and cut into quarters

3/4 cup prunes, pitted and cut into quarters

1 cup dried apricots, cut into quarters

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Line an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix with a fork. Stir in the brown sugar, walnuts, pecans and dried fruit. Mix with your hands making sure that the fruit and nuts are coated with the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and the vanilla with a whisk or stick blender until pale and thick. Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter. Spread into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.

Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Cool the bars on a wire rack and use a sharp knife to cut into squares.


Purim 2009

Chag Purim Sameach everyone. This year I added two new cookies and two new hamantashen fillings for my mishloach manot (gifts of food) that I am giving to my neighbors. The hamantashen fillings I made this year are: peach lekvar, cranberry-orange and pecan-fig. The hamantashen dough recipe and other filling recipes is here.

The peach lekvar is the same recipe as the apricot lekvar, but I used dried peaches instead. The filling is deliciously peachy and the mixture of the dried figs and pecans is also a very nice filling for the hamantashen.

Pecan-Fig Filling for Hamantashen

Yield: about 3 cups

2 cups dried figs

1/2 cup seedless raisins

Apple juice

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Place figs and raisins in large bowl with enough apple juice to cover. Refrigerate 3 hours, or overnight. Place fig mixture in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool; drain, reserving syrup. Puree figs and raisins in food processor along with 1/4 cup reserved syrup. Transfer to bowl; mix in pecans. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to use.


I have wanted to try and make Iraqi date cookies ever since I first tried them a couple of years ago after finding them in a local greengrocer near my office . I was so happy when I found Maggie Glezer’s recipe. The recipe looks complicated, but the cookies are actually very easy to make and even easier if you can find ready-made date paste. You should be able to find a package or two at a Middle Eastern store. The ready-made filling is just pure dates without any added sugars or fillers. This filling is also used to make mamoul cookies.

These are a flaky semolina pastry filled with pure date filling. The sweetness of the dates is all that is needed for this delicious cookie. They are perfect for afternoon tea.


Yield: 16 date pastries


Iraqi Date Pastries from Clemence Horesh

Adapted from A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World by Maggie Glezer

For the dough:

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup warm water

2/3 cup semolina (a.k.a. pasta flour)

1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

140g (10 tablespoons or 2/3 cup) melted butter or margarine

For the filling:

2 pkg date filling


1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds to coat

For the dough:

Stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Mix the semolina and the flour, then stir in the melted butter or oil until it is well distributed and the mixture clumps together. Add the water and mix; the dough will feel very soft at first and then firm up. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two more water to make a smooth, soft dough, or a tablespoon or two more flour to firm it up. Wrap the dough in a plastic bag and let it rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Date Balls

Make the filling if you can't find packaged date filling: In a sauté pan over low heat, heat the dates just until they are warm to the touch, then turn off the heat. Using your hands, knead the dates into the oil in the pan. When the filling is smooth and cohesive, roll the filling up into 16 tablespoon-sized balls with your hands, setting the balls on a plate.

Shape and bake the ba'abe: Arrange the oven racks on the upper- and lower-third positions. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly flour a work surface and have more flour available. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, or oil or butter them. Have ready the date balls, the beaten egg and the sesame seeds.

Date Ball on Dough

Roll out the dough into an 18-inch-square. Using a 3- to 4-inch-diameter glass, teacup or cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Put a slightly flattened date ball in the center of each and seal the dough around the ball. Pinching each pastry by the seal, dip the smooth half first in the beaten egg, then in the sesame seeds. On your work surface, with the seeded-side up, flatten each pastry into a 2-inch disk with a rolling pin. Punch a decorative pattern into the pastry with the end of a wooden spoon or a skewer.

Ba'a'be or Iraqi Date Pastries

Arrange the ba'abe on the baking sheet, leaving room for expansion. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then store them in a sealed container.


These oatmeal cookies take me back to when my brother (z”l), of blessed memory, used to come home from school and whip up a batch of these cookies. They filled the house with such a wonderful smell of cinnamon and love. And, it reminds me of how much I miss him.

When I first found oatmeal in the supermarket in Israel, I really had a big chuckle because Israelis, who find it difficult to transliterate foreign words into Hebrew without making funny mistakes, call it Quacker oatmeal.

Mr BT who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, except for chocolate, really likes these cookies, especially because he can use the pretext that they are healthy.

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

From the Quaker Oatmeal Can

225g (1 cup (2 sticks)) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

3 cups Quaker Oats Old Fashioned, uncooked

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 170C (350F).

In large bowl beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 11 to 12 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, remove to wire rack. Cool completely.


Open Sesame

When Mimi of the Israeli Kitchen blogged about tehina biscuits in an Arab pastry shop in Tsfat, I remembered that I had a recipe for them in Janna Gur’s The Book of New Israeli Food. I happened to have all of the ingredients in the house, so I made them. They are a little different from the ones Mimi blogged about. This recipe puts the icing sugar on the dough before you bake them and the ones in Mimi’s picture are rolled in icing sugar after they are baked. The cookies are easy to make and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. A little piece of halva-like heaven.

Tehina Biscuits

Yield: about 50 biscuits

250g (9oz) butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup raw tehina

3 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

10g (2 teaspoons) baking powder

For dusting:

3 tablespoons icing sugar

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy. Lower the speed and add the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, orange zest and tehina. Mix to a smooth consistency. Add the flour and baking powder until the dough is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Mix the icing sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Take pieces of dough and form balls the size of large olives. Roll the balls in the sugar-cinnamon mixture and place on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. The cookies should remain light colored. Don't move them to a cooling rack until they are completely cool because these are delicate.

Store in an airtight jar.


They Say its My Birthday….Yesterday

Yesterday, I woke up and was another year older. My grandmother, may she rest in peace,  always said we should celebrate our birthday because if we don’t, it means that we aren’t here anymore. I like to subscribe to that philosophy. Birthdays should be celebrated.

I woke up to my husband serenading me with Happy Birthday and I arrived at work to my office which was decorated with gold streamers, paper tulips, clusters of paper flower bouquets, and a Happy Birthday banner. It is nice to be loved.

Every Thursday my team gets together for “Kabbalat Shabbat”. It is not really Kabbalat Shabbat, because that is really the welcoming of the Sabbath which is done on Friday before the sundown. However, it is a tradition at most offices in Israel to do on Thursday and bring snacks, sweets and some wine. It was my turn to bring something, and so it was an easy way to celebrate my birthday with my colleagues.

I was looking for something different and most importantly something that didn’t take a lot of time. So, I found something really interesting on Smitten Kitchen‘s blog, Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars. Her pictures are so beautiful; just the picture enticed me to make them. And, she had me at “Raspberry”. The title of these bars are misleading because they are not crumb bars at all. I think they are more like soft, squidgy granola bars. Simply said, they are delicious and most importantly all about the raspberry. We don’t have much of a raspberry season here in Israel, so I used frozen berries. I think you could make this recipe with blackberries, blueberries, black or red currants or sour cherries. Next time, and believe me there will be a next time, I am going to make them with mixed berries.

My beloved husband made me a nice dinner, beginning with a delicious shaken, not stirred Apple Martini. He made:

Wiener Schnitzel
Crushed Basil Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts

He served it with a nice Shiraz Rose and we had fresh guavas for dessert. It was a lovely dinner.

Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars

Yield: 24 bars

Recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking from the Baked Bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn

For the crust and crumb:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 cups rolled oats (like you use for porridge)

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

170g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

500g (1lb) raspberries, fresh or 600g frozen

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 31x 21 cm (9-by-13-inch) glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper, cut to hang over the short sides of the pan to allow easy removal of the bars.

Place the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until a loose crumbs forms.

Reserve 1-1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Place the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumb mixture evenly in the pan with the back of a large wooden spoon. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool. Keep the oven on while you prepare the raspberry filling.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and toss gently with your hands until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Gently place the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.


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