Grain-Free/Vegan (mini) Chocolate Berry Pies

  

Passover dessert

Hello InterfaithFamily readers! My name is Whitney Fisch and I am beyond honored to be able to create recipes and write for this wonderful website. So here’s a bit about me:

I was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia. I’m the daughter of a Jewish mama and a Christian dad. My mom raised me within the Reform Jewish community. Throughout my childhood, my mom was incredibly active within our temple community, at one point as the founding member of what is now one of the larger Reform temples in metropolitan Atlanta (can you tell I’m proud of my mom!?).

In 2008, after living all over the map and working for various Jewish organizations, I decided to sell all my stuff, drop my dog off at mom’s house and head to Israel for the year to learn at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. While there (and immersed in an incredible multi-cultural learning environment), I met the man I would later marry. We got hitched in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2010 (we were the very first kosher wedding to hit the town—we even made the local paper! Huzzah! Take that, Kardashians! Who’s the celebrity now!?).

We now live in Los Angeles, where I work as the Director of Counseling at a private Jewish school and my husband is finishing his Ph.D. in Marine Biology. We have two beloved daughters, one finicky lemon tree and a lot of love . . . and babka. We love babka. We also LOVE to eat. It’s with this love of eating that brings me to food writing on my personal blog, Jewhungry and is what brings me to InterfaithFamily. I look forward to getting to know you, dear reader!

I developed the following recipe a few years ago during the ‘grain-free’ craze of 2013. It wasn’t until I hosted my first seder later that year that I realized this recipe is THE PERFECT recipe for a seder dessert. It doesn’t require any grains and is so incredibly easy to make as it requires no baking. In addition, it celebrates the fruits of the season and what is Passover but a celebration of the harvest! I hope you enjoy!

berry pie shell

berry pie shells

Fill your berry pies

Mini berry pie

 

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Ingredients for Crust:

Adapted from my own recipe for Raw Brownie Bites

  • 2 cups of dates, seeded and chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. almond meal
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. milled flaxseed
  • 3 heaping Tbsp. vegan cocoa powder*
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. organic maple syrup (depending upon your taste—start with 1 and if you make it again, up to 2 if it wasn’t sweet enough for you)

*Extra cocoa for rolling the bites in afterwards if you want an extra chocolate punch

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream (Recipe straight from my girl, Samantha, at The Little Ferraro Kitchen)

Note: chill your mixer for best results

  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

 

Mixed Berry Filling:

  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup blackberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raspberries, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Demerara sugar

 

Directions:

Crust

I used regular-sized muffin tins to shape the crusts, but a ramekin will work just as well.

1.  Cut pieces of parchment paper into squares about 8 in. by 8 in. or large enough that when placed into the muffin tins there is an excess of paper sticking out.

2.  Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until well combined—to about the count of 30 or until the ingredients have a dough-like consistency. If you feel like it’s a bit dry due to too many walnuts or almond meal, just add a bit of water, about 1 Tbsp. at a time, until you get that doughy consistency.

3.  Once you’ve attained your desired consistency, scoop out enough “dough” to form a ball about the size of a tennis ball. Gently press the dough ball into the parchment paper-lined muffin tin and shape to the entirety of the tin so that a “crust” forms. Your crust should be thick enough to hold the filling but thin enough so that it doesn’t take over the pie flavor. Do this until you run out of dough. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

1.  If you haven’t already, open the coconut milk can and pour out the water in a separate bowl. (Save it and use for smoothies, soups, etc.) If you’ve been chilling your coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours in prep for this recipe, the watery part of the coconut milk will be at the bottom of the can so pour slowly and make sure to omit the watery part at the end.

2.  Pour the thicker coconut milk into your chilled mixer and begin to whip starting on low and gradually moving to medium-high setting. As soon as it begins to thicken, add powdered sugar and continue to beat. Check every so often for desired consistency.

Fruit Filling

Place all your chopped fruit into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar and mix until well combined.

Assembly

Once your crusts have refrigerated, scoop fruit filling into each pie; enough so that the is a mound of fruit filling. Top with a dollop or two (or three) of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Read more delicious Passover recipes here!

Chocolate-Coated Halvah with Nuts

  

By Mari Levine

halvahphoto_large

I’m in the throes of what I’ve dubbed the “Summer of Love.” I’ve hit the age where my Facebook feed is dominated by photos of engagements and newborns, and the only snail mail I get is wedding invitations and baby announcements. In the next three months, I’m slated to go to six weddings—and that’s after I found a way to weasel my way out of three. Oy!

But I’m not complaining! Quite the opposite. I’m actually really looking forward to meeting these new baby-friends and attending these open bars—um, I mean, celebrations of love. In fact, one wedding I’m especially excited for is in just a few weeks, when my dear friend Rachel marries Pascal, a guy she met and fell for while the two were in grad school together at Brandeis. But it’s not quite your typical Brandeis love story: Rachel is American Jewish, and Pascal is Haitian Catholic.

Their wedding will celebrate both of their cultures. They’re going to have some of the Jewish prayers also recited in French. We’re going to dance the hora, then get down to some Carimi (Pascal’s favorite Haitian band). And then there’s my favorite culture clash: the food. In addition to chopped liver, knishes and a latke bar (!), they’ll be offering fried plantains, mango chicken and du riz a pois (rice and beans). And for a familial touch, Rachel’s asked some of her food-minded friends—myself included—to bring a small plate of sweets to add to the dessert table.

The timing is perfect to be thinking about weddings: Judaism’s very own holiday of love, Tu B’av, begins at sundown on July 21. Historically, Tu B’av was a matchmaking day on which unmarried women were paired with spouses. But it’s morphed into a more general day of love. Kind of like a less acknowledged, summertime Valentine’s Day—minus the Hallmark domination. And, like the more popular day in February, Tu B’av is considered a lucky date on which to get engaged and married. Rachel and Pascal’s wedding is only a couple weeks later, so I’m thinking some of that luck will carry over (not that they need it).

While thinking about Tu B’av, I was struck with an idea for my dessert recipe’s base: halvah, the dense, nutty confection popular among Jews all over the world. I love its mellow sweetness and chewy tackiness, which feels a bit like astronaut food (in a good way!). Halvah is great eaten straight from supermarket shelves, but I plan to give it a little flair by dipping it in chocolate and topping it with nuts and sesame seeds. I think I’ve found a cross-cultural recipe that everyone can enjoy.

Chocolate-Coated Halvah with Nuts

Makes about 16 pieces

  • 1 pound halvah (flavor of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped and toasted (I used shelled and blanched)
  • ¼ cup pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate

 

1. Line a plate with parchment paper. Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, slice halvah in half height-wise, making two planks. Cut each plank into 8 equal pieces.

2. Heat small, dry pan over medium heat. Add sesame seeds and toast until slightly darkened in color, about 4 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.

3. Heat now-empty pan over medium heat and add almonds. Toast until slightly darkened in color, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl with sesame seeds. Add pistachios and salt to bowl and stir until well-mixed.

4. Using microwave or double-boiler method, melt half of chocolate. Working piece by piece, dip half of halvah pieces in chocolate until fully coated, allow excess to drain off, and transfer to parchment-lined dish.

5. While chocolate is still warm, generously sprinkle nut mixture over tops of chocolate-coated halvah. Repeat chocolate dipping and sprinkling steps with remaining halvah pieces.

6. Transfer plate to refrigerator until chocolate has firmed up. Chocolate-coated halvah can be kept in the refrigerator for one week.

chosenfinal290pxcolor_largeReprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com.

Barking Up the Valentine’s Day Tree

  

By Mari Levine

chocbark1_large

I’ve run the gamut of Valentine’s Day experiences. And while I’m rather indifferent to the general idea of the holiday, no celebration I’ve had as an adult has ever matched the ones from when I was a kid. I remember the excitement of picking out the perfect cards (in my case, always Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed), choosing which type of candy to attach to them, and then matching the message on the card to each of my classmates’ personalities.

This year, I was thinking about the adult equivalent of those childhood valentines. Now, instead of a classroom, most of us spend our days in an office. Instead of classmates, we have coworkers. And while I’m all for injecting a bit of youthful fun into the workplace, I draw the line at giving my colleagues cartoon cards that call them “dudette” and asking them to be my “mondo Valentine.” (That’s Ninja Turtle speak for “I like you.”) I wanted to bring back the Valentine’s Day tradition of bringing in treats for everyone, but this year I didn’t have time to make any quintessential adult sweets, such as homemade truffles or caramels.

Enter chocolate bark. This sweet can get pigeonholed as a December treat, but it’s easy to make (only four ingredients!), attractive to wrap and appealing to eat all year round. My coworkers will be noshing on this version, with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and coconut, but the toppings are easy to change based on your recipients’ tastes.

Chocolate Bark with Pepitas and Coconut

Makes eight 1-ounce portions

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Maldon sea salt

 

1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Stirring frequently, toast coconut in small skillet over medium heat. Once coconut turns the color of straw, transfer to small bowl to cool.

3. Add chocolate to medium, heatproof bowl and set over pot of simmering water. (Do not let water touch bottom of bowl.) Stirring frequently, heat chocolate until fully melted. Quickly pour onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet and tilt pan until distributed evenly, but not covering entire pan. (Otherwise your bark will be too thin.)

4. Sprinkle coconut, pepitas and salt, to taste, evenly over chocolate. Transfer to refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and break into 1-ounce portions.

chosenfinal290pxcolor_largeReprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com.