I often joke with people that everything I know about Passover baking I learned during French pastry school in Paris. During my pastry course, we often used nut flours to create delicious French cookies, cakes and doughs. While my classmates were considering the high nutritional value of nut-packed desserts, I was thinking that the desserts we were creating were perfect for Passover. Thus began my strategy to finding great Passover desserts: always be on the lookout for desserts that are appropriate for Passover.
My methodology has several layers. I create great Passover desserts by focusing on what I can use rather than what I can’t. The permitted list is significantly longer than the forbidden list. Whenever I discover a great fruit or chocolate dessert, or one based on nut rather than grain flours, I make a copy of the recipe and place it into a file designated for Passover.
The next tactic I employ is that I look for regular recipes that have less than 1 cup of flour. Often you can substitute the flour with a combination of cake meal and potato starch, just potato starch or in combination with nut flours, and create something different, but still tasty, from the original recipe. For one cup flour I typically substitute 3/4 cup potato starch plus 1/4 cup matzoh cake meal. A new product called gluten free cake meal can also be used in lieu of the classic matzoh cake meal.
Finally, take existing Passover recipes that you enjoy and see how you can vary them to turn them into new desserts. Have a favorite sponge cake? Bake it in a new shape, turn it into cupcakes with frosting, a layer cake, add a new extract or spice, incorporate shaved chocolate or fruit into the batter, or turn it into a trifle. Have a favorite Passover brownie recipe? Add chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, candy or marshmallows to the batter or on top. You can also bake the brownies in mini muffin pans and serve with whipped cream and a strawberry on top. Another option is to cut the brownies into triangles rather than squares and plate them with a colorful puréed fruit sauce.
There is no longer any reason to feel deprived during Passover. With some creative thinking you can serve great desserts that your family and friends will ask for all year long.
The recipes below use the same base recipe with variations to create two very different yet chewy and flavorful desserts.
Here is a moch – Granola variation using the basic passover recipe:
And an additional variation but still very delicious!
Let me know if you create any great recipes this holiday!