Passover Preparations

I am busy deciding what to prepare for the main dish and dessert for Passover, since most of the other items on the menu are the expected traditional fare. I am considering the following:

Roasted Poussins with Pomegranate Sauce

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pinenuts (from my friend Chef Farid Zadi)

Patatine e Carciofi Arrosto (Roasted Potatoes and Artichokes)

Torta del Re

Nottingham Nut Cake

Lemon, Creme Fraiche and Chestnut Cake (for a dairy meal)

Damp Apple and Almond Cake

Castagnaccio

For more ideas, click here. I will post my menu in a couple of weeks.

Passover Desserts

As Pesach is fast approaching, I have decided on what desserts I am going to make to make this year: Chocolate-Pistachio Cake and the Orange-Ginger Cake (See Passover Preparations).

This pistachio cake is based on a recipe from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Italian Easy: Recipes from the River Cafe. It is a very easy cake to make. I would prefer to make it with butter, but I must make a parve cake for Passover.

Normally, I do not like Passover cakes made with matza meal, but this cake only calls for 1/2 cup and you really don’t notice it. Substitute with flour when it is not Passover.

Since the Passover hostess is a chocoholic, I am covering the cake with a bittersweet chocolate glaze, but the original recipe is served plain with a lemon glaze.

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Chocolate Almond Torte
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus additional for dusting
  • 400 g 1-3/4 cups finely ground almonds
  • 85 g 3 oz fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the chocolate icing:
  • 85 g 3 oz fine-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 85 g 3/4 stick margarine or butter, cut into pieces
  • 75 g 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 22 cm 9-inch cake pan or springform pan ( I use a springform)
Instructions
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350°F). Butter pan and dust with sugar, knocking out excess.
  2. Stir together ground almonds, chocolate, and spices in a bowl. Beat yolks with 1/4 cup sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, then beat in zest.
  3. Beat whites with salt with cleaned beaters in a large bowl until they just hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.
  4. Stir one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites in 2 more batches. Fold in ground almond mixture.
  5. Pour batter into mold and bake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in mold on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.
For the chocolate icing:
  1. Melt chocolate with 1 tablespoon margarine in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and add remaining 5 tablespoons margarine, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth. Transfer icing to a bowl and chill, covered, until slightly thickened and spreadable, about 30 minutes.
  2. Spread icing over cake with a small metal spatula. Sprinkle almonds on the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake until icing is set, at least 1 hour. Transfer cake to a platter and bring to room temperature before serving.

 

The other cake I considered making this year is another favourite of mine. It is a spice cake with a chocolate glaze. Simple and delicious. I do not remember where I got this recipe.

Print
Chocolate Almond Torte
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus additional for dusting
  • 400 g 1-3/4 cups finely ground almonds
  • 85 g 3 oz fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the chocolate icing:
  • 85 g 3 oz fine-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 85 g 3/4 stick margarine or butter, cut into pieces
  • 75 g 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 22 cm 9-inch cake pan or springform pan ( I use a springform)
Instructions
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350°F). Butter pan and dust with sugar, knocking out excess.
  2. Stir together ground almonds, chocolate, and spices in a bowl. Beat yolks with 1/4 cup sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, then beat in zest.
  3. Beat whites with salt with cleaned beaters in a large bowl until they just hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.
  4. Stir one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites in 2 more batches. Fold in ground almond mixture.
  5. Pour batter into mold and bake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in mold on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.
For the chocolate icing:
  1. Melt chocolate with 1 tablespoon margarine in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and add remaining 5 tablespoons margarine, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth. Transfer icing to a bowl and chill, covered, until slightly thickened and spreadable, about 30 minutes.
  2. Spread icing over cake with a small metal spatula. Sprinkle almonds on the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake until icing is set, at least 1 hour. Transfer cake to a platter and bring to room temperature before serving.

Passover Preparations

We are going to my cousin’s in Jerusalem as we do every year and we always bring the charoset, chicken soup with matza balls and dessert. I always try to bring a different dessert.

I am still trying decide what to bring this year. Maybe one of these:

  • Torta di Carote from the Veneto region
  • Persian Rice Cookies
  • Super Moist Banana & Almond Cake
  • Chocolate Almond Torte with cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a dark chocolate glaze

Last year I made Gâteau à l’Orange et au Gingembre from one of my favourite blogs, Chocolate & Zucchini. It is a moist cake that has an intense orange and ginger flavour. I might be tempted to make it again this year. It was a huge hit. And, it is very easy to make.

Print
Chocolate- Covered Weesper Moppen
Ingredients
  • 250 g 8oz + 2 tablespoons coarse almond paste or grind 125g//1/2 cup of blanched almonds and 125g (1/2 cup) of fine sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 small egg
  • 200 g 8oz 80% dark chocolate (Valrhona or some other premium brand), melted
Instructions
  1. Mix everything except the chocolate together until you have a soft paste.
  2. Wet your hands with cold water, and roll the paste into log. It will still be very sticky and a bit hard to manage. You could roll them in a little kosher for Pesach icing sugar or put the dough in plastic wrap and roll it into a log and place into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up a little.
  3. With a sharp knife (wipe it between cuts) cut the dough into 20 rounds about 1/2 inch or 1cm thick. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or a silpat liner.
  4. Let them dry out for about 2 hours. I put them in a cold oven, with the fan on, for one hour, which worked excellently!
  5. Then, preheat the oven to 200 C / 375 F. When the oven is hot, bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Check that they don't brown too much. Remove them from the sheet, let them cool.
  6. After they have cooled, dip them in the melted chocolate. You can either cover the entire cookie or just one side.
  7. They will dry out a bit more as they cool, but they should still be slightly chewy. They are best served the same day or the following day.

The second dessert I made were chocolate-covered Weesper Moppen, which are Dutch almond cookies. They are chewy cookies with a wonderful almond flavour which can be made plain and rolled in coarse sugar or covered in dark chocolate. I like them because they are not very sweet.

Print
Chocolate- Covered Weesper Moppen
Ingredients
  • 250 g 8oz + 2 tablespoons coarse almond paste or grind 125g//1/2 cup of blanched almonds and 125g (1/2 cup) of fine sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 small egg
  • 200 g 8oz 80% dark chocolate (Valrhona or some other premium brand), melted
Instructions
  1. Mix everything except the chocolate together until you have a soft paste.
  2. Wet your hands with cold water, and roll the paste into log. It will still be very sticky and a bit hard to manage. You could roll them in a little kosher for Pesach icing sugar or put the dough in plastic wrap and roll it into a log and place into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up a little.
  3. With a sharp knife (wipe it between cuts) cut the dough into 20 rounds about 1/2 inch or 1cm thick. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or a silpat liner.
  4. Let them dry out for about 2 hours. I put them in a cold oven, with the fan on, for one hour, which worked excellently!
  5. Then, preheat the oven to 200 C / 375 F. When the oven is hot, bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Check that they don't brown too much. Remove them from the sheet, let them cool.
  6. After they have cooled, dip them in the melted chocolate. You can either cover the entire cookie or just one side.
  7. They will dry out a bit more as they cool, but they should still be slightly chewy. They are best served the same day or the following day.
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