Finding the Brownie Holy Grail

Lush chocolate brownies
Lush chocolate brownies

Lush chocolate brownies. The baseball field grass is not a recommended garnish…

We’ve been having a tough time in Israel these past weeks. Sirens have had us rushing to shelters, and the country is in turmoil. Without making light of this difficult situation, I do feel the need to post a recipe, after a rather long absence. Let’s face it, when were stressed out, food is a great comfort. And when we’re talking comfort food, how can chocolate not immediately come to mind?

Chocolate brownies are a great way to deliver the king of all sweets. I have been through many brownie recipes – some I like because they are very quick to make, others, because they are just decadent over the top.  Recently, I found a recipe that I think has to be the Holy Grail of brownie recipes and and everything a real classic brownie should be. It uses lots of chocolate and then a little more, and the result is one of the most chocolaty, lush, rich brownies you will ever eat.

I’ve made these a few times for my son’s baseball team – I doubled the recipe of course. Served immediately after a 2+- hour game, they are wolfed down with great appreciation. The picture here is of a batch I made for one of the games. I had to rush in with my camera so that there would be some left to photograph!

So for times like these, as well as for times that are less stressful but just call for a good brownie, here’s my recipe for Lush Chocolate Brownies.

LUSH CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Ingredients

275 g (10 oz) dark chocolate

225g (8 oz) butter or margarine

3 large eggs

1 cup (225 g/8 oz) brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

115 g (4 oz) or just under 1 cup self raising flour

115 g (4 oz) chocolate chips (dark or white)

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

How to do it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat till smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla, and then stir in the melted chocolate.

4, Fold in the flour, chocolate chips and pecans.

5. Line a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 in) baking tin with baking paper, and spray with cooking spray. Pour the mixture in and bake for 35-40 minutes. Don’t over-bake if you want a gooey brownie.

6. Leave to cool and then cut into squares.

Makes 12 large brownies.

Back to hametz with some delicious cupcakes with an Israeli twist

Black Beer Cupcakes

Black Beer Cupcakes

Putting Pesach behind us, let’s get back to real baking.

When I first visited Israel as a child, one of the new tastes I experienced and loved was the iconic Nesher Black Beer (birah shchorah). As a child, the concept of drinking beer, even though it was alcohol free, was so exciting. The taste of this local malt brew was wonderfully caramelly and rich, and to this day, I love the taste, which takes me back to my first visit to Israel.

While cupcakes are definitely a non-Israeli confectionery, one way of bringing a little local into these little cakes is by baking them with black beer. When I came across a wonderful parev cupcake recipe that uses stout beer on Chef Chloe’s wonderful vegan cooking website, I knew I had to make a few adaptations to make it more Israeli by using black beer instead. Black beer is said to also have additional health benefits (although I’m not sure if they survive baking at 180 degrees). The result is a very moist, wonderful chocolate cupcake that’s parev and uses no eggs either.

You can frost these cupcakes with any frosting you wish. I use a Tofutti-based cream cheese frosting for parev, otherwise any butter or cream cheese frosting will work well.

BLACK BEER CUPCAKES

Ingredients

1½ cups flour
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup black beer (birah shchorah – there’s the Nesher brand or Coca Cola’s Malti brand)
½ cup oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix till just combined.

3. Line a muffin tin with #5 cupcake liners and fill each to about two-thirds full with batter.

4. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

Makes 14-16 cupcakes

PAREV FROSTING

Ingredients

A few drops of vanilla extract

How to do it

1. In a medium bowl, mix 90g (3 oz) Tofutti cream cheese and a few drops of vanilla until combined.

2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix till combined. Continue adding the powdered sugar until you get a good spreading consistency – about 300g (10 oz) powdered sugar (3 cups). (Note: When you use the Tofutti cream cheese to make frosting, you won’t reach a stiff spreading consistency as you do when using butter or cream cheese. This frosting will always be glossy and soft.)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of soft butter, 100 grams of 25% fat cream cheese (Napoleon) and a few drops of vanilla.

2. When it is smooth, gradually start adding powdered sugar (about 300 grams of powdered sugar in total) and mix until you get a good spreading consistency (the mixture should not fall off the spoon or should not run off the beaters).

VANILLA BUTTER FROSTING

1. In an electric mixer, beat 110g (4 oz)  unsalted butter, 60 ml milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 250 g (10 oz) powdered sugar until completely smooth.

2. Gradually add up to another 250g (10 oz) powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is a smooth spreading consistency.

Delicious and Easy Pesach Amond Cookies

Almond Cookies

Almond Cookies

One of my favorite ways to find new Pesach recipes is to discover them hidden in the pages of regular recipes books. Every now and again, you will stumble on a flourless confectionery that is perfectly kosher for Pesach without meaning to be.

Just last week, a new cake recipe book I’d ordered online arrived (just in time for Pesach!). As I was flipping through the pages, I came across a recipe for Swiss cookies made with ground almonds that are 100% KFP, have no kitniyot and are parev – the Ashkenazi Pesach trifecta! But, turns out the recipe was useless, but I liked the concept. So after a bit of experimentation, I “made it my own” and now I have a wonderful recipe for the most delicious cookies.

The best thing about these cookies is that they don’t have that “pesach” taste that comes from the KFP cake flour or potato flour. You also can make these all year round, and no-one will complain.

I made mine dipped in chocolate – they are really delicious with this extra layer of flavor. You can just as easily make them without and keep it really simple.

As we start the one-week countdown to seder, this is one recipe you can make ahead of time and keep them in an airtight container ready for serving as an after dinner treat.

ALMOND COOKIES DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE FOR PESACH (No kitniyot)

Ingredients

225 g (8 oz / 2 cups) ground almonds (Note: If you’re in Israel, your local spice store will grind almonds for you on the spot.)

450 g (16 oz / 2 cups) caster sugar (Note: In Israel you can get Sugat’s “Sucar Dakdak” in any supermarket today)

2 egg whites (unwhisked)

About 100 g (3 oz) flaked almonds

150 g (5 oz) parev dark chocolate for dipping

How to do it

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Chocolate Lined Cookie

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F)

Chocolate Dipped Cookie

Chocolate Dipped Cookie

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground almonds and the sugar. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing them in until the mixture forms a dough-like ball (I use my hands to bring all the dry ingredients together)

3. Line baking trays with baking paper and grease the baking paper lightly.

4. Pour the almond flakes onto a flat surface – a plate or clean counter top. With dampened hands, form balls with about 1 teaspoon of the dough. Flatten the dough slightly into the flaked almonds, coating each ball of dough on both sides. (If the almonds don’t stick, then wet your hands again and rub them over the dough ball). Place on the baking tray with about 5 cm/2 inches between each ball.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or just until the cookies are just starting to get golden brown. You’ll want to keep an eye on the cookies as they are quite delicate and can easily become too brown. Remove and allow to cool completely before you dip them in chocolate.

6. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Dip each cooking half-way into the chocolate. I tip the pot with the chocolate at an angle so that the chocolate pools on one side and it’s easier to dip.  If you want to drizzle lines of chocolate over the cookies, place the cookie on some baking paper, and using a spoon of chocolate, carefully drizzle lines of chocolate in both direction over the cookie.

7. Place the cookies on baking paper until the chocolate has completely set.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Hummus Chocolate Cake? Yes it is, and good for Pesach

A few months ago, I read a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake on the wonderful Seattle Foodshed blog. I bookmarked it, and decided that Pesach was the perfect time to try it out, as for kitniot eaters, it’s completely KFP and parev to boot. And who would have thought that a cake that’s Kosher for Pesach and made from hummus would originate in the US? So with a few days left of Pesach, I have to share this with you.

I just baked it, and it’s a hit. My kids piled into it, and were shocked when I revealed to them that it’s made with hummus beans instead of flour. My husband asked where the matbucha was…I will definitely make this cake again for Pesach. It turns out like a brownie cake, so you can also make it as bars, and serving it with ice cream would not be a tragedy. As I was writing this recipe, I realized I had forgotten to add the baking powder, but it came out fine!! So if you can’t find KFP baking powder, you can leave it out. Now I will have to bake this again to see what it turns out like WITH baking powder!

I will share this recipe with you here as well, but do visit the Seattle Foodshed blog, as there are also lots of good, healthy recipes there that are worth checking out, and the pictures are great.

HUMMUS CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR PESACH (KITNIYOT) 

Hummus Cake for Pesach

Ingredients 

1½ cups chocolate chips or 200g dark chocolate pieces

4 eggs

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. In a food processor, mix the chick peas and eggs until smooth. Add the vanilla, sugar and baking powder (if you can’t find baking powder that’s KFP, leave it out) and pulse till combined

3. Melt the chocolate over boiling water (double boiler).  Add the melted chocolate to the cake mix and combine.

4. Line a 22cm (9 inch) baking tin with baking paper and grease. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Recipes for Pesach – Part III

Desserts are generally the biggest challenge to make kosher for Pesach. Over the years, I have found some reliable recipes that taste good and aren’t terribly difficult to make. In general, kosher for Pesach dessert require lots of eggs, a lot of whisking of egg whites, and as a result, the use of multiple bowls. It’s hard to avoid and part of the process, so just make sure you have enough bowls to use. Most importantly, all these desserts are parev.

Coconut Mounds – Pesach isn’t Pesach without coconut cookies. In my childhood, coconut macaroons (which is what we called them even though they really weren’t macaroons) were one of the few confectionaries to be found kosher for Pesach in South Africa, so this is a real childhood taste. When I first made this recipe, I was sure it would be disastrous because it just seemed way too easy. I was wrong. They are delicious and crazy easy, so do make them with your kids. 

Apple Squares for Pesach – This is a regular on my Seder dessert table. It’s easy to make, tastes good and isn’t overly sweet. And of course, it’s parev, so works on many levels. There’s nothing like fruit to cover the taste of the kosher for Pesach “flours”!

Chocolate Roll For Pesach – Here’s a fun dessert that’s versatile, tastes good and looks good. Have fun with fillings of your choice. I offer two options, but you can get creative and add whatever you and your family like.