Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Passover Mandelbread

Have I mentioned that Passover is not my favorite holiday? Maybe like 500 times? Because, it isn't.

But we made it through last year, and we'll make it through this year. So, time to cowgirl up and get your afikomen on. Or else ...

Let's just say Mrs. Adler does not handle disappointment well.

First you're going to need about seven dozen eggs, since every Passover recipe calls for at least six. Get psyched!

This recipe is from my dear friend Jen, who brought them to our sons' school Passover party. I traded her for my Matzah Toffee recipe, and we bonded forever over the discovery that there were actually two tasty Passover desserts in the world. Who knew?

Jen's Passover Mandelbread
2 cups sugar (16oz, 455g)
2 sticks of butter (8oz, 230g)
6 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 3/4 cup matzah cake meal (7.25oz, 405g)
3/4 cup potato starch (4.75oz, 135g)
1 package Passover chocolate chips (9oz, 255g)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large cookie sheets, lined with parchment

Cream sugar and butter in electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each. By the sixth egg, the mixture will look curdled, which is fine. On low speed, beat in salt, cake meal and potato starch. Remove bowl from mixer and work in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

On parchment, shape dough into three or four logs, roughly 1" high and 3" wide. If you are feeling fancy, wet your hands and smooth out any lumps. Chill for two hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 (325 convection) and bake for 25 minutes. Rest on the counter for 10 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut half-inch slices. Place them in tight rows on the parchment, then sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon sugar. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes about 85, which is a lot. But what else are you gonna eat for a week, macaroons from a can?

Chag Sameach.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Apple Currant Crisp

I made this apple crisp during Sunday's eight hour sleet storm, the last cackle of a wicked winter in Baltimore. Yesterday was the Orioles' season opener, and today I'll watch my own kid play a double-header. Spring is finally here.

But spring produce is still weeks off, so I'll tell you about this winter dessert anyway. It's kind of a funny story.

Every year I vow to clean out my basement freezer for Passover. This year, I mean it. (There's a disgusting, frozen puddle at the bottom from various power outages. Eww.) So many mystery foods, some with labels only in cyrillic. 

Do I speak Russian? No, I do not. So where did this stuff come from? Good question.

I found a bag of tiny red fruits. I assumed they were gooseberries, but when I opened the bag, they looked more like red currants. They were about as sour as cranberries, which you can easily substitute if you're not randomly tossing stuff in the cart at the Russian grocery store.

And don't waste delicious apples on this dish. Just use those mealy, end-of-season ones your kids are going to throw out when you pack them in lunches. 

Apple Currant Crisp
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

Fruit Filling
7-8 medium sized apples
1 1/2 cups frozen currants/gooseberries/cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch

2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish

Mix together all topping ingredients except butter. Cut the butter into half-inch chunks and use your hands to squish it into the dry mix. Squeeze the mixture into handfuls, then put it in the fridge while you chop the apples.

Peel and core the apples, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Mix with the sugar, corn starch and berries, then transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Crumble the topping into pea-sized bits on top of the fruit, put the dish on a cookie sheet to catch any drips, and bake for 70 minutes at 350 (325 convection). Rest for 15 minutes before serving.