Pesach Desserts Don’t Have to Taste Like Garbage

If you like sweets during the year, Pesach can be something of a challenge. There is nothing made with cake meal—especially shmura cake meal—that doesn’t taste like exactly what it is. The first few years I made yontif, I was mildly shell-shocked by the depressing desserts I produced, and we ate an awful lot of fruit. From there, I graduated to ices, and then Chaya introduced me to the wonders of potato starch. Her Aunt Marilyn’s brownies (note to self: the best Pesach recipes come from people who don’t eat gebrokts!) disappeared more quickly than I could make them.

Aunt Marilyn’s (a”h)Pesach Brownies

1/2 cup of cocoa
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine in a mixing bowl and bake in a 9X13″ pan at 350 till done.  (Sorry, the original recipe doesn’t say how long, and I just eyeball it.) Figure 35 minutes, but know that they don’t set up like regular brownies do until they cool.

Don’t double the recipe, just make a second (or fifth) batch if you need to.  For some reason, this doesn’t seem to take well to doubling.

Several years after the Pesach Brownie Enlightement came the Flourless Chocolate Cookie Revelation. These are idiot-proof, which is always a factor in my recipe selection, and are super quick to make. The recipe calls for 2-4 eggwhites, and I respect that. Being a creature of moderation, however, I staunchly stick with three, and haven’t been disappointed yet.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pesach Cookies

3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly, then add eggwhites and vanilla and stir until there are no lumps. Add the chocolate chips and deposit on silpat/parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 till glossy and set, about 15 minutes. Bear in mind that these spread like crazy when you’re placing them on the cookie sheet, and spray the silpat/parchment with a little bit of cooking spray, because they’ve been known to stick a little, especially if you’re in a hurry to grab one and it’s not cool.

This next one is an all-year recipe that tolerates a swap from cake flour to potato starch and loses nothing in the translation. Top with strawberry sauce, jam, whipped cream, or whatever you happen to have handy.

Angel Food Cake

1 cup potato starch
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift the potato starch and sugar together three times.
Set aside. Whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat in the rest of the sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Beat just until stiff peaks form.
Fold the potato starch/sugar mixture into the egg whites.
Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until
cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch. Invert to cool. Remove
from pan and serve.

Last one up: meringues. They’re a little bit fussy, and I usually made them overnight as soon as I’d flipped the kitchen. They freeze beautifully, look impressive, and taste just as good on Pesach as they do all year long.

Ridiculously Easy and Equally Delicious Meringues

8 eggwhites
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1 t. flavored extract (vanilla, mint, raspberry, orange…)
nonpariels, colored sugar, melted chocolate, etc. to decorate

Preheat oven to 250. Your eggs should be at room temperature and your mixer bowl should be chilled when you begin. First, use the wire whip attachment at full speed to whip your eggwhites till they form soft peaks. Add the sugar VERY slowly while continuing to beat the mixture. When all of the sugar has been added, the mixture should be glossy, and hard peaks will form when you remove the beater. Don’t do that just yet, though. Add the extract and beat for a half a minute, still at full speed. Now, drop by dollops (or go all fancy like I do and make pretty swirls with a pastry bag or decorator) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If you’re adding sprinkles or the like, do it now.Bake for 90 minutes in a 250 degree oven. Let cool in the oven, then drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired, and transfer to an airtight container or a Ziploc bag. If you don’t need them right away, freeze them and enjoy later.


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