There is a sad truth about Passover: Its dessert always falls short. Hanukkah has donuts, Purim has hamantaschen and Rosh Hashanah has honey cake. Poor Passover has no signature sweet.
Perhaps you’ve put in the extra effort to make a kosher for Passover cake for your Seders past, but if you’re like me, you’ve never found one you love enough to sacrifice sweet brisket-braising time to make it each year. But as Julia Child said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” So, this spring I set out to create a kosher for Passover cake that wouldn’t compromise even a crumb’s worth of quality.
I pulled my copy of Dan Cohen’s cookbook, “The Macaroon Bible,” down from my shelf and got started. Cohen’s recipes call for small batches that produce rich and chewy macaroons that come in flavors like rice pudding and salted caramel. Each recipe highlights the thick coconut shreds and sweet condensed milk that make up its base. His recipes have made macaroons a year-round treat in my home — passing the test of something that’s conveniently kosher for Passover but not designed for it.
This cake batter borrows from Cohen’s recipe and enhances the celebratory qualities of a macaroon. It takes a traditional Passover dessert and morphs it into a beautiful, festive and delicious centerpiece. It’s a Passover cake for all seasons.
Passover, maybe more than any other Jewish holiday, calls on us to individualize our holiday experience — we are celebrating our freedom from slavery. Despite having seemingly endless restrictions and laws, there’s still ample room for personal interpretations. For some families this comes in the form of using props to explain or playfully re-enact the 10 plagues, for others it’s selecting a Haggadah that fits their politics or religious beliefs. For me and other passionate cooks, nothing compares to the opportunity to express my thoughts about the holiday through food. The Seder provides the ultimate opportunity to engage with a narrative through the dinner plate.
This year, for the first time, I will plan what my family eats for our second night Seder. To prepare, I’ve read through countless articles and recipes. I’ve looked for dishes that balance tradition with modern twists, updating the Seder to make it feel more contemporary and personal. Several recipes I selected highlight a theme of the Seder — be it spring, bitter herbs or recalling the ten plagues — literally putting the story of the Exodus on the plate. For many, straying from a traditional family menu that’s been honed over decades is a risk, but one that might be worth it if it allows you to make the Seder more personal. Try mixing some of the old with some of the new with these delicious picks from around the web.
Please share your non-traditional Seder recipes with us in the comments!
More and more, young Jews and families are creating their own Passover traditions in restaurants. Joan Nathan reports for the New York Times.
One last dessert idea: matzo toffee with chocolate, almonds and sea salt. Need we say more? Thank you Serious Eats.
Matzo brei — ah, the perfect Passover brunch food. Try a recipe with bananas and pecans on The Kitchn, with pear and sour dried cherries on Serious Eats, or with lox, dill and onions on the New York Times.
According Kosher Nexus there’s a “Matzah Hotline” (1-888-MATZAH) to answer your Passover questions. There must be loads of people with questions, since we kept getting a busy signal.