There is something to be said for tradition. I find it comforting that every year as Passover approaches I know with pretty good certainty what we are going to be serving at the seder. Sure we might swap a kugel here or a green vegetable there, but the majority of the menu stays constant from year to year. I am all in favor of experimenting with new twists on the classics, but for the seders I like to keep things traditional. The one exception is dessert. Every year the dessert is different. Dessert is where I can express my creativity without anyone being upset that we went against tradition. For our family a different dessert each year is the tradition.
In our house the biggest insult a person can give a dessert is to say “it tastes like Pesach”. That is not saying that all Passover desserts are bad, but they certainly are not all good either. In my opinion there should be no reason to sacrifice good taste when it comes to dessert, even on Passover. If it isn’t good enough to serve year round I don’t want to serve it on Passover either. While there are the classic go to standards, like flourless cakes and chocolate mousse, I like to mix things up a bit and serve desserts that are a bit more unusual.
This Chocolate Raspberry Baked Alaska takes advantage of one of the key differences between Shabbat and holidays. While on Shabbat all the food needs to be prepared before sunset, on holidays it is permitted to cook as long as the flame is transferred from a preexisting flame. This makes it possible to serve desserts that require last minute cooking, an impossibility on Shabbat. However, no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen fussing over dessert in the middle of a hectic seder or company meal so this dessert is the perfect compromise. All the elements of this showstoping dessert are made ahead and kept in the freezer. All it needs is a quick trip under the broiler and it is ready to serve. The combination of chocolate and raspberry (with a bit of amaretto thrown in for good measure) make this not only a beautiful dessert, but a very tasty one as well.
Another great make-ahead dessert is this Coconut Panna Cotta with Lime Curd. In my experience people are often too full after a big Passover meal to eat a large heavy dessert (though that rarely seems to stop anyone from eating it). This panna cotta is rich and delicious without being too heavy. The brightness of the lime is the perfect compliment to the coconut, and the creaminess of the coconut rivals that of any dairy panna cotta.
While it is fun to make plated desserts for seders, I am also fond of serving a simple assorted cookie platter to go with the requisite jellied fruit slices and pesach chocolates. These cookies are sure to bring a smile to peoples’ faces. A play on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, these Almond Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies are made with almond butter and sandwiched with berry jam. These are quick and easy to make and are a great treat to have on hand throughout the week (and year round).
Whether making these desserts for a big seder meal or just for family they are sure to be a hit. They are truly a manifestation of the sweetness of freedom rather than the bitterness of slavery, and that is exactly what a dessert should be.