Pesach weighs me down. The Seder meals are heavy and I can’t resist matzoh balls. During Chol Hamoed, I make homemade french fries as a treat for the kids, buy I eat too many myself. All year round I happily eat yogurt and fruit every morning. On Pesach, I treat myself to matzoh slathered with cream cheese and dripping with raspberry jam, which I ate as a child growing up in Long Island. Why on Pesach I cannot seem to subsist on the salads I eat all year round probably has more to do with a need to reward myself for the schlepping, the cleaning, and all the cooking. My rewards often take the form of chocolate desserts.
My approach to Pesach desserts has always been that they should be so good that you would make them all year round. Any dessert that tastes “like Passover” is probably are not worth eating. We also should focus on what we CAN use during Pesach as opposed to what we cannot. By the time Pesach starts, the quality of fruit improves and we can say goodbye to our winter of apple, pear and nut desserts. Pesach is when we should shift our full attention to strawberries, blueberries and stone fruits.
These desserts are not just light on you, but light on effort. They can be made quickly and in advance, and served later. And keep them in mind should you need to serve a beautiful, light and delicious dessert to someone on a gluten-free diet – any time of year.
This soup also works as a appetizer in small cups or shooters. You can use homemade or store bought sorbet. The goal is to have several colors of fruit and sorbet sitting in the bowl.
Serves 6 to 8 (will depend on melon size)
1 large ripe honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cut in chunks
1 teaspoon honey
3 ripe unpeeled peaches, pitted, or one mango, cut in chunks
6 ounces fresh berries
1/2 pint each of coconut, mango, and raspberry or mixed berry or other fruit sorbet
1. Place the honeydew into the bowl of a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until completely puréed. Pour into a large container or bowl. Add the honey and stir.
2. Place the peaches into the bowl of the blender or food processor and process until completely puréed. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the peach purée into the container with the puréed melon. Mix well and refrigerate until serving.
3. To serve, ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls. Carefully scatter the berries among the bowls so that you can still see them and they do not sink. Take a melon baller and scoop one ball each of the three sorbet flavors and carefully place into the bowls. Depending on the size of your bowls, you can add more than three sorbet balls to the bowl. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I like to serve this in individual ramekins. You could also use wine or martini glasses and garnish with any sliced or chopped fruit.
16 ounces fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon imitation rum extract
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unflavored kosher gelatin powder
1 cup parve whipping cream
1. Remove the stems from the strawberries, wash well and set 6 of the strawberries aside. Take the 6 strawberries, slice thinly, and place in a small bowl with the rum extract and confectioners’ sugar. Mix to combine and then place in the refrigerator.
2. Cut the remaining strawberries in half and place in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Purée the strawberries completely, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl or blender so that all the strawberries pieces are puréed.
3. Place the strawberry purée in a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir. Cook on medium low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts. Add the gelatin, whisk, and then remove from the heat. Strain into a medium bowl, pressing hard to get as much strawberry purée through as possible, and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, stirring twice during that time.
4. In bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, whip the whipping cream until stiff. Remove the strawberry purée from the refrigerator and fold in the whipped cream in four parts. Scoop the mousse evenly into the ramekins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
5. To serve, remove from the refrigerator and place a few of the rum-soaked strawberry slices on the top. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.