Friday, April 15, 2011

Suspiciously Delicious Passover Desserts

Don't forget a beautiful centerpiece for your table!
The first time I invited my dear friend Steven to a Seder and he tasted my dessert he was flabbergasted. "Doll," he said, "you know I love you no matter what, but you're a shiksa and there's no way this is Kosher for Passover; it tastes too good."  I insisted that the tart did not violate any of the restrictions--aside from the fact that it was prepared in my non-Kosher kitchen. He grilled me, and after a thorough interrogation it was proven that my tart was indeed K for P.

Steven was right; the old school desserts--sponge cake, honey cake made with matzoh meal, fruit compote, and chocolate covered jellies can be unexciting and un-delicious.  But with a little bit of creativity, Passover desserts can be tasty enough that you don't even notice anything is missing.

I was motivated to find some good Passover desserts after a disastrously embarrassing sponge cake attempt at my in-laws' home one Passover long ago. I was the new wife, trying ever so hard to embrace my husband's traditions. I toiled over the sponge cake, and when it was baked, I turned the bundt pan upside down on a bottle as directed and removed the bottom half of the pan, leaving the inverted cake suspended to cool. Imagine my horror when, right before my eyes, the accursed cake shriveled from the bottom up into a flat, hard, ugly ring.  It looked like an elapsed time sequence in a movie.  Then and there I made a commitment to find a better way. And I have.  One caveat:  the ingredients I use  (i.e. traditional brands) may not be certified Kosher for Passover even if they do not contain flour or leavening--if your Seder requires that level of observance, make sure you purchase ingredients in the "Kosher for Passover" section of your grocery store.

Coconut Lemon Tart--suspiciously delicious
Coconut Lemon Tart

For crust:

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup matzoh cake meal
1/2 stick margarine, melted

Mix margarine and coconut and press firmly into bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of tart pan, preferably scallop-edged with removable bottom. Bake at 350 about 10 minutes til browned. Watch it carefully; coconut tends to burn.  Cool completely before filling.

Meanwhile, make Lemon Curd:

6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 stick margarine cut in small pieces

Combine eggs, sugar and zest in saucepan and whisk til smooth. Add lemon juice and margarine and cook over medium whisking constantly til thickened, approx 7 minutes. Do not boil. Strain through fine sieve into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming and chill thoroughly.

Fill coconut shell with lemon curd. Top with fresh blueberries if desired.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy, here are a few other suggestions:

Chocolate Truffle Pie

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Meringue Cookies

And you can always resort to the tried and true chocolate dipped fruit. I prefer Ghirardelli's chocolate, which may not be K for P, but there are other chocolate options that are--check the Passover section of your grocery store if that is required at your table.  If you don't feel like making your own, and you are relaxed about the rules, Termini does gorgeous chocolate-dipped strawberries.  They also offer a staggering selection of cakes and pastries--not, of course, K for P, so if you adhere to the traditional Passover diet, they'll be something wonderful to look forward to next week.

More on Passover from the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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