Passover Treats

It’s that time of year again – out with the baguettes, the croissants, the pain au chocolat, in with the matzohs, brisket and macaroons. Somehow giving up these leavened confections seems to much more difficult here in France, but luckily for me I’m headed to London for the first 4 days of Pesach, so I won’t be tempted too much. 

I have never been to London before. Actually, I’ve never been anywhere in England, so when my friend Jess invited me to her home in London for seder, I was thrilled! London is one of those places that I’ve always assumed I would go to but never set my mind on going. Now that I’m finally headed across the channel, I’m really starting to get excited. While I won’t be able to do all my usual culinary samplings because of Passover, I’d say it’s fortunate I’m not coming to Paris for the first time, as missing out on all the boulangeries here would be just sinful.  

All London is straight out of a Harry Potter film, right? 

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite Passover recipes. Hopefully I’ll be able to whip something up before I hop on the train Friday morning or maybe I’ll be able to make something when we arrive 🙂 I’m going to head down to the Marais in a little bit (the Jewish section of Paris) to see what treats they might have on sale now! And I’m sure I’ll have a full update on London next week!

My award winning macaroons 

An easy flourless chocolate torte

Lemon meringue pie

And probably my favorite recipe at all (that I never get around taking pictures of) Caramel Matzoh

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August Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Baked Alaska

What a month this has been! I finally moved into my amazing new apartment and at long last, all the roommates are together. There are four of us in a great two bedroom in the most perfect location in all of New York. It’s easy to get to work and I’m anticipating that it will be easy to get to classes once they start next week. I can’t believe that school starts in just a little over a week. In some ways, this summer has flown by, but at the same time it seems like ages ago that we were moving out of our dorm last May.

With all the moving, IKEA trips (which there were many), setting up of furniture, beating the heat and the rain, there has been little time for baking. Our kitchen hasn’t been completely set up until just the other day as we were missing a lot of kitchen gear that our final roommate was bringing down with her. I love our stove – it’s a brand new gas stove. At the same time, that means we have a gas oven, which I am not the greatest fan of, but it seems to work better than other gas ones I have worked with. So, as we finally put the finishing touches on the kitchen the other day, with the addition of a garbage can, microwave, and a few more pots and pans, I realized it was time for this months challenge!

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alasa or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I decided to go with the Baked Alaska because the prospect of glazing a bunch of teeny petit fours seemed like too much of a hassle. That being said, the Baked Alaska wasn’t a walk in the park either. I started the process at the begining of the week, making the pound cake and the ice cream. I strayed away from the originial recipe and made a mint ice cream, as I had just found some peppermint extract in my basket of spices and baking items. Having made ice cream for last months challenge, I was prepared for the task of making ice cream with out an ice cream maker, but this was much more complicated. The addition of the eggs meant you had to heat and cool the milk and cream more often and the eggs gave the ice cream a much more custardy flavor. I added some green food coloring so no one would forget it was mint.

The task of browning the meringue without a blowtorch was daunting because I was certain that my ice cream would melt in the broiler. But, WE ACTUALLY HAVE A BLOWTORCH! One of my roommates had one in a creme brulee set and we went and bought some butane fuel, and voila, we had a funtioning blowtorch. Now that I know we have one, I’m going to try to use it for everything that I make 😉

Overall, this was a fun challenge. The pound cake was probably my favorite part – I love burnt butter. The moral of the last two challenges is that I think I really need a an ice cream maker because making it without is much harder and it never turns out quite as good as it would with a machine.

Lemon Meringue Pie

This past weekend, there were two birthdays in my suite. One on Friday and my roommates on Sunday. As joint venture between the two, we had a lovely little party on Saturday night. Since they are both known to like a little lemon, I decided to try a lemon meringue pie since I have never made one and I bought a tart pan weeks ago that I have been dying to use.

Since it’s still Passover, I decided to make a tart crust with cake meal, so that I would be able to eat it as well. After much research, and finally discovering that the cake meal box itself gave me the answer, I ventured into tart making territory knowing that I could subsititute 5/8 cup of cake meal for every 1 cup of regular flour. I found that the cake meal made the crust much more crumbly, so I wasn’t able to roll it out, but had to press it into the tart pan bit by bit. I know that this is a big no-no when making pie dough as it can cause shrinkage, but I had no choice.

Making lemon meringue pie is definitely a two day process unless you have ALL DAY to make it. On Friday I made the crust and curd and refrigerated it over night. I made the meringue the next afternoon, but it in the fridge again and it was perfect for serving later that evening. 10 minutes gave me the perfect brown over the meringue, but make sure the meringue stretches all the way to crust, or else it will start to shrink. I think it was a big hit for both the birthday girls and all the guests. I am definitely going to try it again after Passover with an actual flour crust, but it still makes an excellent Pesach treat 🙂

LEMON MERINGUE PIE

(Adapted from joyofbaking.com and ME)

DIRECTIONS:

crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I substituted 1 cup of cake meal)
  • 1/8-teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

lemon curd:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

meringue:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

INSTRUCTIONS:

crust:

1) In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt.  Set aside.

2) Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated.  Don’t over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color.

3) Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball.  Don’t overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.

4) Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.

5) Have ready an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 – 12 inch (28 – 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.  To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry.  The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan. (I had much issue with using cake flour. If you do use cake flour, you can try using cake flour, otherwise, I just pressed pieces into the tart pan)

6) When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll.  Unroll onto top of tart pan.  Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan).

7) Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan.  Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry.  With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan.  Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry.

8 ) Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes).

9) Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten in the flour.

10) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.  Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

11) Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface.

12) Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.

lemon curd:

1) While the crust is baking make the Lemon Curd.

2) In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended.  Cook, whisking constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick. This will take about 10 minutes.

3) Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps.

4) Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted.

5) Add the lemon zest.  Immediately pour the lemon curd into the baked crust and smooth the top.

6) Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

7) Bake the tart for about 10 minutes or until the lemon curd is firm but still a little wobbly in the center.  Do not let it brown or burn.

meringue:

1) In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

2) Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

3) Using a spoon, place dollops of the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd, starting at the outside edge of the tart.  (Make sure the meringue comes right up to the crust and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd.)

4) Then, with the back of your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of any air pockets and to make sure all the lemon curd is covered with the meringue.  If desired, swirl the meringue making a few decorative peaks.

5) Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the meringue has nicely browned.

6) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, away from any drafts.  When cool, serve or else cover and refrigerate.

Passover Preparations

Passover is right around the corner – Monday evening to be exact – and I’m getting ready! Today I went out and bought matzah, soup mix, coconut, and my favorite thing about this time of year – coconut covered marshmallows!!! They don’t make them any other time of year except for now and I am obsessed. Usually I don’t think that kosher marshmallows are that good, but these are just amazing!

Anyway. First night seder I plan on going to the Bronfman Center here on campus to connect with some other university Jews and second night I plan on heading up town for a nice big seder with the whole family. Not quite sure what I’m going to make yet, but here are a few of my favorite Passover treats…

MACAROONS – This is my signature recipe – one of my favorite things to make.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CARAMEL MATZAH – This is a great recipe if you’re in a rush, but still want a yummy dessert for your Passover table.

CHOCOLATE MERINGUE COOKIES

(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

2) Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.

3) Slowly add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form, and mixture becomes glossy. Fold in cocoa and chocolate chips.

4) Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls on to a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.