As Passover approaches, we of the Jewish faith embark on the depressing task of removing all traces of flour and chametz from our lives. I say depressing because while Passover reigns supreme as my favorite holiday thanks to the sloo of good eats offered at the Seder table, unfortunately, Passover falls pitifully short in the dessert department.
Growing up an April baby, I always cursed the Passover diet for making me have to serve my friends the same old dull, brick-like Matzo meal and potato starch cake.
But I cannot blame the old Jewish ladies of yesteryear who both wrote and baked from the Second Helpings cookbook. That was the book, and that’s all anybody knew.
Professional cooking and baking, and the cookbooks that have come along with these professions are products of recent times. But thankfully, with knowledge came freedom, and in the case of Passover, this meant freedom from the tired Matzo meal and potato starch. Sure when I make Passover cakes, sometimes I use these ingredients, but now their roles are minimal. They are no longer the mainstays of Passover baking.
In professional pastry, there are all kinds of desserts that require no flour at all, and some who call for so little that they can easily be placed with matzo meal without compromising the taste or the stability and structure of the dessert.
Here are just a few examples of classic desserts that are perfectly suitable for Passover. In subsequent articles, I will feature each type of dessert separately, complete with a break-down of the technique and recipe. So stay tuned!!
1- Meringue Cookies:
A meringue is nothing more than egg whites whipped with sugar until it reaches a certain consistency. Piped and baked, meringue transforms into the most delightful of airy, light desserts. While meringue cookies have long graced many a Passover dessert menu, only recently has the tired plain meringue exploded and transcended it boarders into tasty, playful treats. The addition of ground nuts, chocolates, and extracts make meringue.
Classic french patisseries like (the now widely popular) Macarons or Dacquoise are meringue based and are completely suitable for passover.
Tortes are cakes, not pies like they are so often confused for, which contain little to no flour. Typically made with ground nuts and/or chocolate, or some other stabilizing ingredient, tortes make for wonderful passover desserts; They are relatively easy to make, are no fuss when it comes to decorating, and are incredibly tastey, yet light enough to push your over the edge post-feast.
All mousse have 2-3 elements: the flavor base, meringue (sometimes) and whip cream. The wonderful thing about mousse is that they can be frozen into shapes and therefore made ahead of time. And mousse fits any mold, so you could take it in any direction, from a classic mousse cake, to modern chic miniature dessert shots glasses called verrines.
Despite a lame history of dry, tasteless matzo cakes, Passover desserts have come a long way in recent years, and extended far beyond the potato starch boarders of the past.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for recipes and how-to’s on some of the Passover desserts featured in this article.
Chef and Owner Gateaux Maliniak