Kosher Baking A-Z

 

Non-Dairy Thanksgiving Desserts

 

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Since the main focal point of the Thanksgiving meal is almost always a beautifully cooked turkey it is imperative that the rest of the dishes are parve in a kosher Thanksgiving feast. One year I decided I was missing out by not having an opportunity to try all the side dishes I was reading about in the glossy cooking magazines that called for things like Mascarpone cheese and heavy cream. To solve this problem we decided to make a dairy meal for the Shabbat after Thanksgiving made up almost entirely of assorted side dishes. Besides the fact that two huge heavy meals in a row was perhaps not the best idea we enjoyed having a chance to try all those dishes but in the end decided that there were plenty of delicious parve options and it wasn’t worth the trouble.

The big surprise of that experience was the pumpkin pie. The parve pumpkin pie I made (based on the recipe on the back of the Libby’s Pumpkin Puree) for the real Thanksgiving meal tasted identical to the dairy version I made the following night.  This pie is sure to please anyone looking for the classic Thanksgiving standard, and it is super quick to throw together which is an added bonus.


 

Chocolate Almond Pana Cotta with Ginger Snap Tuile

 

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Hi.  My name is Harmony and I’m a dairy addict. I dream about mounds of real dairy ice cream topped with fresh whipped cream, oozing milk chocolate. I cannot resist crispy butter cookies or a velvety custard. Yet I have often turned up my nose to many Parve desserts. ‘No, thank you. I’m full.’  A pastry chef who turns down desserts?  Say it isn’t so!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love dessert and I enjoy sampling all different kinds of confections, amusing my palate. It is just rare to find a Parve dessert that can measure up.  But I love a challenge and finding substitutions that taste just as great and sometimes are actually healthier can be thrilling. So my mission as a frum Jew has been to search for the perfect non-dairy dessert to pair with our meat meals, something light and creamy for that scrumptiously sweet bite after a satiating feast.


 

A Non-Dairy Frangipane Tart Recipe With Pears and...

 

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As a pastry student and an avid baking blogger and blog reader, I’m constantly looking to enrich my knowledge on the basics.  At the root of all truly great desserts lie the basic techniques and recipes that, once truly understood and mastered, allow for application in the most creative ways possible.  The lovely recipe I’m thrilled to be sharing today is a rich and nutty Frangipane Tart with Amaretto & Honey Poached Pears.  And, while the assembled dessert may look extravagant, it’s actually relatively simple in that it is composed of three basic techniques or mini-recipes that can be used over and over again and adapted to fit into many of your existing favorite and future dessert recipes.

The rustic beauty of this special dish makes it a perfect option for a Sukkot dessert and the fact that it can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature makes it even more irresistible.  The parve shortcrust recipe, however, is the type of “go-to” basic that will easily become a household favorite.  Contrary to other pie or tart shell recipes, both with butter or dairy-free, this sucree (pastry) can be rolled and maneuvered with the greatest of ease and bakes up to a golden brown finish that is sweetly delicious.


 

Healthy Sweets for your Sukkah

 

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Sukkot, while known primarily as our Festival of Booths, is also the Jewish harvest festival celebrating nature and the ingathering of the fruits of the earth. As such, on Chag HaAsif, the “Feast of Ingathering,” vegetables and fruits are the theme of the meals eaten in the Sukkah as well as the décor of the Sukkah itself. What better way to honor this holiday of harvest than by utilizing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts in delicious treats to adorn our tables and share with our family and friends.

In our home during the holidays, sweet treats are not only limited to the desserts served after a festive meal. We enjoy bringing the sweet yom tov spirit into every meal by enjoying healthier home-baked goodies for breakfast, snacks and as dessert after meals as well. Muffins are usually our treat of choice as they are pre-portioned, are not too sweet, can be filled with healthy, nutrient and fiber boosting ingredients (don’t tell the kids), and most of all our kids love them. The Triple Apple Muffins and Pear Zucchini Muffins are two of our family’s favorites, and are also the perfect anytime treat to enjoy in your own Sukkah.


 

3 Parve Sweet Dessert Recipes for Rosh Hashanah

 

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On Rosh Hashanah it is traditional to eat foods symbolic of our hopes for a good and prosperous new year. The most recognizable of these symbols is the apple dipped in honey, but there are many more symbolic foods associated with Rosh Hashanah, such as gourds, fenugreek, leeks, beets, dates, pomegranate, and the head of a fish.  These desserts are based around some of these traditional symbolic foods (don’t worry, not the fish head). While it is customary to serve the symbolic foods at the beginning of the meal, these desserts are a fun way to serve them at the end as well.

Pomegranates are a very common food to serve on Rosh Hashanah. When eating the pomegranate we state the hope “that our merits increase like (the seeds of) a pomegranate” in the coming year. These Individual Pomegranate Tarts are the perfect way to highlight the many seeds within each pomegranate. The sweet tart crust is filled with a soft pomegranate curd and topped with as many fresh pomegranate seeds as will fit on top. The seeds look like glistening jewels making this a very elegant dessert.


 

Some Interesting and Useful Challah Tidbits

 

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A very very frequent question I get goes something like this:

“I made a challah dough and it looked good. But after I’ve shaped it and it is on the baking tray, it seems to rise out instead of upwards and the end result is a flat, wide challah that, although it still tastes good, really doesn’t look that nice. What can I do to make them nicer, aside from using a loaf or oval shaped pan?”


 

2 Holiday Cake Recipes That Step Out of The Box

 

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When Joy of Kosher first asked me to develop new cake recipes for the magazine, I suggested six different cakes, for them to choose from.  (more…)


 

3 Kosher Quiche Recipes Inspired By Favorite Soups

 

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I love eating soup and experimenting with the many ways you can turn simple ingredients into delicious meals but when it comes to summertime, I stay away. Instead, I like to make things that taste like my favorite types of soups but in other forms so I get great flavor without the sweats and that’s what inspired me to make these quiches.  French Onion Quiche, Potato Leek Quiche and Tomato-Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche are all my takes on some of my favorite soups but with some twists.

Who doesn’t love French-Onion Soup? Onions caramelized with thyme in a cheesy filling and topped with nutty Gruyere cheese is just a deconstructed French onion soup which traditionally has caramelized onions in a beef broth and topped with a cheesy crouton and this quiche does it justice. I made it for a recent party and it was practically gone before I could come back with my plate to try a piece. Gruyere cheese used to be almost impossible to find kosher in America but a new kosher cheese company marketed as “It’s a Good Life” has come out with a kosher version that I found in my local ShopRite and I was thrilled.


 

Summer Cocktail Desserts

 

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Ahhhhh, summer…now that we’re in full swing, carpooling and homework seem like a distant memory and even full-time work feels easier when the days are longer and warmer.  I relish the fresh produce of this season, simply prepared meals and lots of ice cream, and whenever possible my ideal way to cool off is by the pool, particularly with a favorite cocktail in hand.  Yes, the kids can have their popsicles, and I’ll take the grown-up version of icy refreshment.

There are times, however, when mid-day cocktails may not be convenient or even appropriate (say, before 5 pm?).  But I can justify indulging in a treat based on the flavors of my favorite cocktails.  I personally love the intense, tangy flavor of fresh limes so I naturally gravitate towards two popular and refreshing cocktails made with lime: the Cosmopolitan and the Margarita.


 

Two Terrific Cupcake Recipes: Big Flavors In A...

 

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Amidst the trend of the ongoing “cupcake craze,” it seems that the tasty little treats are everywhere, justifiably so!  With frostings, fillings, and flavor combinations galore, the possibilities are endless for cupcakes.  As a proud passenger on the “Cupcake Bandwagon,” I’m not ashamed to admit my love for the dainty desserts, and can’t deny how much fun it is to bake up batch after batch of cupcake cuties.

Making cupcakes from scratch allows you to get creative in the kitchen and combine beloved flavors into a personalized batch of individually-sized sweets.  Adjust flavors to fit your family’s preferences and keep it as simple or as exciting as desired.  Frostings, toppings, and decorations leave much room for artistic originality.


 

The 411 on Whole Wheat Flour

 

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Q. What is the difference between whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour? – Miriam, Boca Raton, Florida

A. Different types of wheat are grown in the United States and each one has slightly different characteristics.


 

Coffee Flavored Father’s Day Gift Ideas

 

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I admit it – I created a monster.  It all started a few years back when I traveled to Israel and was treated to strong, fresh coffee every morning at my hotel.  So upon my return it was I who initially insisted on fresh brewed coffee every morning at home – the instant stuff just wouldn’t cut it anymore.  Prior to this time, my husband was a tea man, preferring his loose English Breakfast blend brewed in a tea ball to just about anything else.  Now, however, it is an entirely different story.

My husband has now become the bigger coffee snob in the family (since we are both coffee snobs now).   He gets up first every morning and brews our large pot of fresh coffee – we have settled on a mutual favorite after trying several brands and blends.  Though he dilutes his with milk more than I do, he insists on the “good stuff” every morning and even sets the timer to brew fresh coffee on yom tov.  And although we usually share fairly, sometimes we do fight  over the last half cup in the pot!


 

Three Delicious Ice Cream Recipes

 

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In my mind there is nothing that screams “summer” more than a big dish of homemade ice cream. One taste of freshly churned ice cream and I feel like I should be sitting outside on a big porch swing enjoying a warm summer day. Even if in reality it is the middle of winter and cold outside.

Homemade ice cream is not difficult to make and fresh ice cream is definitely worth the effort. To get the best ice cream it is necessary to have an ice cream maker, but they are available at a reasonable price and once you have one you will wonder how you lived without it. Especially when it comes to making non-dairy ice creams. Homemade is so much better than the store bought varieties widely available that there is no comparison.


 

Meringue Magic for Passover

 

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There are certain wonderful dishes that I reserve for individual holidays, only to be served once a year.  You know, the special dishes that the whole family looks forward to throughout the year, and enjoying them during their distinctive, respective holidays makes them taste even better.  For my family, these include my famous key lime cheesecake on Shavuot, herb roasted turkey and marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving, and meringues on Passover.  Meringues, the baked beaten-egg-white-and-sugar confection, are light and versatile and make the perfect dessert for Passover:  they require only a few, readily-found ingredients, they do not use matza meal which aids in their lightness and renders them non-gebrokts, and they can be flavored in a variety of ways so that they don’t get boring throughout the week-long holiday.

A beaten egg white can foam to eight times its original volume, which is key to making successful meringues.  When combined with sugar both for sweetness and structure, this egg white mixture creates the foundation not only for meringues, but also for such varied desserts as pavlovas, soufflés and angel food cakes.


 

Candy-Inspired Desserts

 

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I’ve been asked to define Purim, so I guess you could say that on a very superficial level Purim means candy, and costumes, and candy, and more candy.

I was flipping through Martha Stewart mag and I saw a piece on candy- inspired desserts. What a great idea – a sophisticated spin on a candy bar! Anytime I see something that makes my mouth water, I’m gonna remember it, but this time I also cut it out and saved it in my Purim folder. Pulled it up last week and created a “Snickers Cheesecake” just for you. Well, ok, it’s really for me, but I’m willing to share.