Thursday, April 5, 2012


Many of the desserts that are kosher for Passover are takeoffs on everyday desserts, substituting matzoh cake meal for traditional flour. And they taste like it. And therein lies the problem. I find the key to avoid having this happen is to throw caution to the wind and prepare desserts that embrace the nutty matzoh taste rather then fight it.
The Mandel Bread (Jewish Biscotti) below does not taste like traditional Mandel Bread...but in a good way. It's a tasty cookie in its own right, and not an "okay so it's Passover and we'll deal with it" stand-in for a cookie. Not only does the recipe contain matzoh cake meal, but it also contains some potato starch which, acting a little like cornstarch, will tenderize the texture a bit. It also contains some coarse matzoh meal to give the cookies a little crunch. This is an easily adaptable recipe, and choosing add-ins such as chocolate chips, nuts, dried apricots, raisins or berries will also enhance the flavor and make it your own. The one absolute here is baking the loaves once, allowing them to cool, and then slicing and baking them a second time. This second go round in the oven   crisps up the cookies and brings the cinnamon/sugar coating to the forefront. The matzoh flavor is still there, but as a secondary flavor. 

The Mandel Bread freezes well, so you can whip up a few batches at the beginning of the holiday, and have enough to last for the rest of the eight days that follow. Because Lord knows, anything that lessens your time in front of the stove or oven during this holiday is a lifesaver.
(makes two loaves)
scant 3/4c. oil
1 Tbsp. veg. shortening or butter, softened
1 1/4c. sugar
1 egg yolk
3 whole eggs
1/2c. orange juice
2 Tbsp. orange zest
2 3/4c. matzoh cake meal
3/4c. potato starch
1/2c. matzoh meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
Add-ins: 1c. dark chocolate, chopped
               1c. milk chocolate, chopped
               1c. chopped walnuts or almonds
               1c. dried cherries
               1c. dried apricots, chopped
Cinnamon/sugar, for sprinkling (1/2c. sugar + 1/4c. cinnamon)
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the blow of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream oil with the softened shortening or butter. Add eggs, sugar, and orange zest and continue to mix for five minutes, until light and fluffy.
Reduce speed to low and add orange juice. Mix until combined and slowly add dry ingredients. Mix  at medium speed until all are combined. Reduce speed again and mix in add-ins of your choice. Once everything is combined, turn dough out onto an ungreased surface and knead for a few minutes. Form dough into two loaves, approximately 4 inches long. Place on prepared baking sheet, flatten them down a bit, and sprinkle tops with a few spoonfuls of cinnamon/sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating pan at the halfway point.
Once the loaves are baked, remove pan from the oven and allow them to cool for ten minutes. Slice the Mandel Bread into 1/4” slices, and place the slices down flat on a cooled sheet pan. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon/sugar a second time and bake again for 10 minutes, until slices are nicely browned.

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