MAR
22

Passover Desserts

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Creating a delicious Passover dessert could seem a daunting task. No wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, corn or yeast allowed. And some go so far as to not include dairy either. But that doesn’t mean your dessert must be dry and lacking in flavor. Nor does it mean you’re stuck eating the same old coconut macaroons and flourless chocolate cake.

Change things up this year and bring some fresh tastes to your Seder. These dessert recipes are sure to be a hit.

 

Honey Nut Cake in Soaking Syrup

Adapted from Epicurious

If you like Baklava, you’ll love this cake! Rich and nutty and sweet – a little goes a long way.

Cake:

¾ c sugar

¼ c brown sugar

¼ c vegetable oil

3 eggs

3 Tbs orange juice

1 tsp orange zest

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

½ c matzoh cake meal

½ c finely chopped pistachios

1 c finely chopped walnuts

 

Soaking Syrup:

2/3 c sugar

¼ c honey

1/3 c orange juice

¼ c water

1 Tbs lemon juice

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 7-inch round layer cake pan (if you do not have one, you can use a round foil pan of the same or similar size available in the supermarket baking aisle).

Cake:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a wire whisk, beat the granulated and brown sugars with the oil and eggs until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Stir in the remaining batter ingredients. Turn the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is light brown and set. Cool for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the Soaking Syrup.

Soaking Syrup:

In a medium saucepan, combine the ingredients. Heat to dissolve the sugar and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes syrupy. Cool well.

Pour the cooled syrup over the cooled cake, poking holes in the cake with a fork, to permit the syrup to penetrate. Allow it to stand for 2 to 4 hours to absorb the syrup. (Refrigerate this cake so that while it is absorbing the liquid, it is also firming up. This makes it easier to cut.)

 

Two-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Source: Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor

Believe it or not, you can achieve a flawless, creamy mousse with just chocolate and water!

¾ c water

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (use the best you can buy)

ice cubes

whipped cream (optional; for serving)

Simply pour water into a saucepan. Then, over medium-low heat, whisk in the chocolate. The result is a homogenous sauce.

Put the saucepan in a bowl partly filled with ice cubes (or pour into another bowl over the ice -- it will chill faster), then whisk the chocolate sauce, either manually with a whisk or with an electric mixer (if using an electric mixer, watch closely -- it will thicken faster). Whisking creates large air bubbles in the sauce, which steadily thickens. After a while strands of chocolate form inside the loops of the whisk. Pour or spoon immediately into ramekins, small bowls or jars and let set.

Note: Three things can go wrong. Here's how to fix them. If your chocolate doesn't contain enough fat, melt the mixture again, add some chocolate, and then whisk it again. If the mousse is not light enough, melt the mixture again, add some water, and whisk it once more. If you whisk it too much, so that it becomes grainy, this means that the foam has turned into an emulsion. In that case simply melt the mixture and whisk it again, adding nothing.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream if desired.

 

Cardamom Apple Almond Cake

Source: Gourmet

Since confectioner’s sugar contains corn starch and is not Kosher for Passover, this recipe involves making your own – an easy step when you own a coffee grinder.

Cake:

Vegetable oil for greasing pan

½ c matzo meal (not cake meal), plus extra for dusting

1 c. slivered almonds, toasted

½ tsp salt

scant ½ tsp ground cardamom

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 c sugar

2 granny smith apples, peeled and coarsely grated

 

Powdered Sugar:

1/3 c sugar

½ tsp potato starch

 

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Oil springform pan and dust with matzo meal, knocking out excess.

Pulse almonds in a food processor with 1/2 cup matzo meal, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cardamom until finely ground. (Be careful not to pulse to a paste.)

Beat yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth, then add 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating, and beat until mixture is very thick and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in nut mixture, then apples. Beat whites and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in another bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, beating, and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Stir one fourth of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Scrape batter into pan and rap pan once on work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Bake cake until puffed, browned, and top springs back when touched, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely in pan (cake will sink slightly in center). Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then remove side of pan.

Make powdered sugar:

Grind sugar in coffee/spice grinder until powdered, then stir together with potato starch in a bowl. Sift some of sugar over cake before serving and reserve remainder for another use.

 

Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting

Source Smitten Kitchen

Is it a cake or is a candy bar? You decide!

Almond Macaroons:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces or 300 grams) slivered almonds (or an equivalent weight of blanched, sliced or already ground almonds)

1 cup (196 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (37 grams) sugar

2 large pinches kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

6 large egg whites

Frosting:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Flavoring of your choice, such as 1/2 teaspoon orange oil or extract, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, almond or other extract

20 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (61% or less is recommended, I think it would also be great with 72%, a nice bitter contrast to the sweet macaroons), chopped or chocolate chips

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (at 350°F for 7 to 9 minutes on a tray, stirring once or twice)

Make macaroons:

Position an oven rack in the top and lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325°F. Draw two 12 x 4-inch rectangles, spacing 2 inches apart on a piece of parchment paper, then two more of the same size on a second sheet. In total, you’ll use 2 sheets of parchment paper and draw 4 rectangles. Turn each sheet of parchment over (so your ink or pencil lines don’t seep into the macaroon) and spray with nonstick spray.

Place almonds, 1 cup sugar and coarse salt in a food processor (you can skip the food processor, however, if you use an equivalent weight of almond meal or ground almonds, just mixing the ingredients in a bowl) with vanilla bean seeds, if using (you’ll add liquid extract in a bit) and blend until finely ground.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large, dry bowl with clean beaters (or a whisk attachment) until soft peaks form. Drizzle in vanilla extract (if using), then slowly add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Fold nut mixture into egg whites. Spread 1/4 of macaroon batter evenly within each rectangle, filling completely.

Bake macaroon layers until golden and almost firm to the touch in the center, reversing sheets halfway through. Check in on yours at 23 minutes and then every 5 minutes thereafter if they’re not done yet.

Cool macaroons on their sheets on a cooling rack.

Make frosting:

Simmer 1/2 cup of water and sugar in a medium saucepan until sugar dissolves. Measure 10 tablespoons from this and either discard the rest of save it for another use. Put the 10 tablespoons syrup back in the saucepan and add flavoring of your choice. Bring the syrup back to a boil and add chocolate to the saucepan. Remove from heat and let sit for one minute, then stir the chocolate until smooth. This should yield a medium-thick frosting, good for spreading. If yours is on the thin side, you can let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes until it is a good spreading consistency.

Assemble torte:

If needed due to spreading, carefully trim your macaroon layers back to their intended rectangular sizes.

Place one macaroon layer on a long platter. (Slipping little pieces of parchment or waxed paper under the edges will help keep your platter clean; you pull them out when you’re done frosting the torte.) Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over. Top with another macaroon layer. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over. Repeat 1 more time then top with last macaroon layer, flat side up. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of torte. Press sliced almonds onto sides of torte.

Poached Pears

Source TheFoodChannel.com

Honey, cinnamon and citrus combine to give these pears a delicious flavor and elegant presentation.

6 cups sweet red wine

2/3 c honey

2/3 c sugar

6 Tbs lemon juice

¼ c orange juice

4 cinnamon sticks

6 medium firm, ripe pears

1 Tbs orange zest

 

Combine wine, honey, lemon juice, orange juice and cinnamon sticks in a sauce pot and bring to a simmer.

 

While the poaching liquid heats, peel the pears in straight, continuous strokes from the stem end to the base using a Y-shaped peeler. Cut a small slice from the bottom of each pear so that they can stand upright.

 

Add pears to liquid, cover the pot, and simmer, turning occasionally, until the pears start to become tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow pears to cool in the poaching liquid, approximately 1 hour. Serve immediately, or for darker coloration, transfer to refrigerator for up to 24 hours, turning the pears occasionally.

 

To serve, pool poaching liquid as desired in center of dessert plate or shallow bowl. Stand pear in the center of the plate. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon orange zest.

 

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DEC
11

Holiday Decorated Cookies

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Thanksgiving may have barely passed, and already we’re eagerly preparing for the next holiday. The bakers at Sunset Foods are particularly excited, gathering together their favorite sprinkles, edible glitter, and food coloring to tint icings to the perfect shades of green, red, blue, silver…you name it. The sweet scents emanating from the bakery department will fill you with holiday glee! Oh so good!!

Surely our lovely bakers are not the only ones caught up in the holiday spirit. Many of our loyal readers might be firing up the ovens, donning aprons, and dusting off their favorite holiday recipes as well. If you’re in a baking mood, than you’ve come to the right place – we have some excellent recipes and tips to help you make your best holiday cookies yet. These recipes are easy enough for the budding bakers in your household, so gather the kiddos around for a day of family fun in the kitchen. It’s never too early to spread some holiday cheer!

The Best Gingerbread Cookies EVER
(recipe courtesy of Southern Living)

¼ c. water
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 c. molasses
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
5 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
¼ tsp coarse salt
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp allspice
1 ½ tsp cinnamon

Line baking sheets with parchment.

Stir together the water and baking soda until dissolved. Stir in the molasses; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy and combined.

Whisk together flour, salt, and spices. Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the molasses mixture. (Make sure to begin and end with the flour.)

Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Cut with a floured cookie cutter and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing enough space around each cookie because they will spread during baking. Freeze for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake 10-12 minutes (for a large shape). Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating with royal icing.


Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
(Recipe courtesy of Bake at 350)

3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c. sugar
2 sticks salted butter; cold and cubed
1 egg
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Freeze for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack before decorating with royal icing.


Easy Royal Icing
(Recipe courtesy of Bake at 350)

4 Tbs meringue powder
scant ½ c. water
1 lb powdered sugar
½-1 tsp light corn syrup

*A few drops of pure almond extract can be added to the mixer with the corn syrup if using to decorate Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies.

Combine the meringue powder and water in a standing mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined and foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. (Do NOT skip the sifting step. It eliminates lumps in your Royal Icing.)

Add in the corn syrup. Increase mixer speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer, hold it up and jiggle it without the peak falling.)

Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the icing, or divide the icing up and color using gel paste food colorings. Cover colored icings with plastic wrap touching the surface.

 

Okay. Now that you have the recipes, let’s talk technique! Here are a few items you will want to have on hand as you get started decorating your cookies:

Cooling racks
Piping bags
Piping tips
Plastic squeeze bottles with caps
Toothpicks
Gel food coloring
Mixing bowls
Spatulas
Decorative sprinkles and dragées
Edible glitter

The base Royal Icing recipe is perfect for outlining your cookies and defining different sections. (For instance, if you were decorating a cookie shaped like a candy cane, you could use this icing to create the outlines for red and white areas of the candy cane.) Simply fill a piping bag with some Royal Icing, and pipe the icing to create the outline you desire.

To fill in the outlined sections, you will need to create Flood Icing. It’s easier than you think! Simply put some of your Royal Icing in a bowl and add water in teeny tiny increments – ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring after each addition, until the icing passes this test:

Raise up a ribbon of icing with your spoon; drag it back and forth across the surface of the icing; if the icing settles back into itself after a count of “one thousand one, one thousand two”, then it’s ready.

Too stiff? Add more water and repeat the test. Too fluid? Add more Royal Icing and repeat the test. Be patient and take your time making your Flood Icing because the end result is well worth it. You’ll end up with a smooth, shiny, easy-to-spread icing that dries to a glossy, hard finish.

Once your Flood Icing is ready, you can use gel food coloring to create the exact colors you desire. Simply divide up the base Flood Icing into bowls and tint to the shades you want. Then you can transfer the colored Flood Icing to plastic squeeze bottles for easier application. Simply squeeze a little of the flood icing onto the cookie surface in the outlined section you’ve created, then use a toothpick to carefully move the icing around to fill in the entire space. (Remember that candy cane example? You would squeeze a little red Flood Icing into a section, then use your toothpick to carefully move the icing around so that the entire outlined section is red.)

A toothpick will become your new best friend. Who knew that this little kitchen castoff would be one of the best decorating tools at your disposal? The toothpick is the easiest way to create some truly stunning effects. For instance, want to create an artsy swirl pattern on an ornament shaped cookie so that it has a stained glass effect? Simply outline the cookie in Royal Icing, then fill in with Flood Icing in the color of your choosing. Use your toothpick to smooth the Flood Icing into place. Choose another color of Flood Icing, and squeeze a few drops on top of the smoothed icing. Drag your toothpick through these drops to create a swirl pattern of color. You can repeat with as many colors as you like. The result will be simply gorgeous!

Once you’ve iced the cookie to your heart’s satisfaction, feel free to decorate with sprinkles, dragées, or edible glitter. Make it your own! Then set it aside and let the icing dry for at least one hour.

Here’s a neat tip for creating hair. Leave it to Martha Stewart to find new use for kitchen tools. Have a long forgotten garlic press hiding deep within one of your kitchen drawers? Wash it well and dry it; place a small ball of gingerbread dough inside and press…instant gingerbread hair! You can then place the hair on your gingerbread people before baking them in the oven. Neat, huh?


What holiday cookie tips and tricks have you discovered along the way? Have a favorite cookie recipe you always make? Share with our readers on Facebook!

And while you’re getting into the holiday spirit, don’t miss Sunset Foods’ Holiday Gingerbread House Making Event! Bring your kids to your local Sunset Foods to assemble and decorate a festive Gingerbread House. It will be the perfect decoration for your holiday table!

Holiday Gingerbread House Making Event
Saturday, December 15th
10 am-Noon
All Sunset Foods locations
Cost to participate: $12

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