Full of helpful advice for families starting to think about their child's bat or bar mitzvah, Bar & Bat Mitzvah For The Interfaith Family will be a helpful primer to all families (not just interfaith!).
This booklet explains the history of Hanukkah, the symbolism and significance of lighting candles for eight nights, the blessings that accompany the lighting of the candles, the holiday's foods, the game of dreidels, and more!
Connecting Interfaith Families to Jewish Life in Greater Cleveland by providing programs and opportunities for interfaith families to experience Judaism in a variety of venues, meet other interfaith families, and to connect to other Jewish organizations that may serve their needs.
A great way for Jewish professionals and volunteers who work with and provide programming for people in interfaith relationships to locate resources and trainings to build more welcome into their Jewish communities; connect with and learn from each other; and publicize and enhance their programs and services.
Ahhhh, summer. The days are long and hot and Shabbat is even longer and hotter. When it comes to prepping for Shabbat in the summer, it’s always nice to have more hours in the day on Fridays. I love having those extra hours to work on a special main course or to enjoy a refreshing homemade margarita (compliments of my sous chef, who also happens to be my husband). But the toss up, of course, is that havdalah doesn’t come in until as late as 9 pm and with a preschooler who wants snacks every 20 minutes and a husband who eats everything in sight, I’ve gotta be prepared with tons of food options on Shabbat. Since I try to curb too much sugar eating, I’ve started having these homemade popsicles on hand for a late afternoon Shabbat treat. They are a BIG hit with the little and big members of my family. They are not overly sweet but lean more to the cool and refreshing genre of popsicles.
Feel free to add a little bit of maple syrup in with your honey if you’re wanting them a bit sweeter. Either way, you’ll feel a lot better for giving your family a tasty, cool treat that is free of refined sugar and food coloring and packed full of healthy goodness. Enjoy!
1 1/2 cups mixture of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. plus 2 Tbsp. honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup almond milk
1. In a small sauce pot, combine berries, water and 3 tablespoons honey. Bring to a boil until liquid is syrupy and thick. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Do not mash the blueberries, keep them as is (it’s prettier).
2. In a small bowl, whisk in 2 tablespoons of honey, the vanilla, coconut and almond milk.
3. Fill popsicle molds a little over half full of coconut-almond milk. Spoon in berry mixture to fill the popsicle mold.
4. Place mold in freezer for 1 hour. Remove molds and insert wooden sticks into each popsicle cavity. Place mold back in the freezer for at least another 4 hours until ice pops are solid.
Shavuot. The “Festival of Weeks.” If ever there was a confusing holiday (Shmini Atzeret aside), Shavuot is it. The definition of “Shavuot” alone is confusing enough. Festival of Weeks? Who wants to celebrate a festival of weeks!? That said, if ever there was an example of why one should never judge anything by its name alone, Shavuot is such an example.
So what are we celebrating, exactly? First, there is the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai (kind of a big deal). Then there is the completion of the counting of the Omer (the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, thus, “Festival of WEEKS”). The counting of the Omer reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavuot: Passover freed the Jews physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavuot redeemed the Jews spiritually from bondage to idolatry and immorality. But I always wonder, have we really been “freed” from our bondage to idolatry? I’m gonna go with a hard, “NO” on that one.
In my role as a high school counselor, I am often meeting and talking with students about their personal expectations. Too often, adolescents (and their parents, for that matter) have expectations for themselves that are not remotely attainable. Whether it’s trying to fit their body or personal image to that of a celebrity or the pursuit of academic perfection, I would argue that we are still very much bound to worshiping of idols. As a society, we have given so much power to fame and perfection, it is worshiped as truth. Adolescents “follow” celebrities and try in vain to emulate their lifestyle in such a way that they are willing to risk their financial status and physical, mental and emotional health. If that’s not worshiping of an idol, I don’t know what is.
Speaking of worship, Shavuot has recently become of my most favorite holidays due to the foods that are traditionally eaten on this day: dairy foods and spring/summer veggies and fruit. I’m talking foods such as cheesecakes and fresh green salads and gorgeous, ripe fruit. It’s a time of newness and of a re-commitment to learning and spirituality. I dream of hosting a huge picnic in a kibbutz sometime, the sun shining down upon my family and friends and eating salads and cakes until we feel we’re about to burst! One of the cakes I’ll be offering up during a meal this Shavuot is this gorgeous Semolina Cara Cara Orange Cake. Not only does it lend itself to a beautiful presentation, it just so happens to taste good as well. A double threat, if you will.
Semolina Cara Cara Orange Cake
Candied Orange Peel with Syrup Topping:
3/4cuporange blossom honey
3 Tbsp. green cardamom pods, crushed
1 Cara Cara orange, thinly sliced
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring sugar, honey, cardamom and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add orange slices.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, turning orange slices occasionally until tender and syrup is reduced to 3 1/4 cups, about 40 minutes.
3. Arrange orange slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; remove cardamom pods and seeds. Strain syrup.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover syrup and orange slices separately; chill. Return orange slices to room temperature and rewarm syrup slightly before using.
Ingredients for Cake
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup plain yogurt (I used coconut milk yogurt, which was completely fine and delicious)
1 cup fine semolina PLUS 1 cup coarse semolina (or 2 cups coarse semolina)
⅓ cup milk or almond milk
1 tsp. baking powder
Directions for Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Place the butter in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine together the sugar and yogurt. Now add in the semolina, baking powder and milk. Finally stir in the melted butter and let the mixture sit briefly so that the butter is absorbed.
4. Transfer the semolina mixture into a lightly greased 9″-round cake pan or baking dish. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.
5. Pierce the hot cake all over with a metal skewer. Slowly drizzle 3/4 cup warm syrup all over. When syrup is absorbed, slowly pour 3/4 cup more syrup over the top. Reserve remaining syrup for serving. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, run a thin knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides. Arrange candied orange slices over top.
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!
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.
Place all your chopped fruit into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar and mix until well combined.
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!
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.
Reprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com.
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.
Reprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com.
Recipe courtesy of Marcia A. Friedman from Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life. Win a copy of her cookbook here!
Photos copyright Marcia A. Friedman
One of my favorite foods from my “adopted” Jewish heritage has to be potato latkes, particularly my husband’s. It’s a family recipe lovingly passed down and painstakingly recreated (down to the fingers bloodied from hand-grating the potatoes) for generations. The recipe is special not only because it produces exquisite little crispy pancakes but also because it connects us to family history. Although I enjoy experimenting with recipes—especially those that unite Jewish culinary traditions with those of my Italian background—I haven’t been able to bring myself to experiment with the beloved potato latkes.
But when I discovered that the very first latkes were cheese pancakes, well, that provided motivation for some new recipes. Those early latkes came to be when Italy’s Jews adopted ricotta pancakes as a Hanukkah dish. Those creamy cakes, sitting squarely at an intersection of Jewish and Italian cuisine, could be something to experiment with and make my own.
Finding these connections enhances how I enjoy this simple winter holiday, which I first got to know after converting to Judaism. In contrast to Christmas, Hanukkah takes a quieter approach, an aspect I’ve come to greatly appreciate. Each night offers a little moment of peace as we light an additional candle to commemorate the historic rededication of the Jewish temple—when a small vial of precious olive oil provided light for eight nights.
Each night also offers an opportunity for fantastic food, given that the traditions evolved to incorporate foods fried in oil. But as if eight nights of fried foods wasn’t enough, there’s also a tradition of dairy dishes. This comes by way of an associated holiday story in which Judith infiltrated the enemy camp, used salty cheese to make the enemy leader so thirsty he got drunk on wine, and then killed him when he passed out. So some say the miracle was done (or greatly helped) through milk.
These food themes merge delightfully with Italian ricotta pancakes, fried ever so lightly on the griddle. And besides pulling from Italian and Jewish traditions, the recipe adopts the style of modern American pancakes or hotcakes. But it tastes so much better thanks to ricotta and lemon zest and the airiness of whipped egg whites.
My lemon-ricotta pancakes blend the frying and the dairy themes, but more important to me, they represent a marriage of evolving Italian, Jewish, and American food traditions that works in its own unique way to connect us to Hanukkahs past and present. By its nature, the dish welcomes all to the table, and, in so doing, I’d like to think makes all our holidays a little brighter. And it leaves plenty of room for those potato latkes.
These luscious pancakes made with ricotta, a cheese of Italian origin, should be made ahead—really. Reheating in the oven mellows the cheese and lemon flavor and perfects the texture so that a slightly crispy exterior gives way to a creamy interior. I love serving these as a “sandwich” with cream spiked with limoncello, a lemon-flavored liqueur originating from the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. The short stack makes a beautiful and appetizing presentation—especially for dairy-focused celebrations such as Hanukkah or Shavuot.
Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Limoncello Cream
The hot pancakes work beautifully as a short stack with a dollop of limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur) whipped cream in the middle. A few blueberries scattered about add flavor and that blue color so festive for the holiday. If you are cooking with children, omit the limoncello from the whipped cream, and let kids help make the pancake “sandwiches” and decorate with the berries. These beautiful stacks can be breakfast but I prefer them as dessert. No matter what, just be sure to serve them right away.
Makes20 to 22 small pancakes, or 10 or 11 pancake sandwiches (1 to 2 sandwiches per serving)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
3 large eggs, separated
1½ cups buttermilk
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
Cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil for greasing the griddle or pan
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. limoncello
1½ Tbsp. sugar
Fresh blueberries or other berries (optional)
This recipe, I discovered by happy accident, also improves when made in advance. Make the pancakes up to a couple of weeks ahead, freeze them, and then reheat them in the oven and make the whipped cream just before serving. The flavors meld and the exteriors become slightly crispy while their interiors stay creamy and rich. In the true spirit of the holiday, the cook can actually sit down and enjoy this recipe together with everyone.
1. Lightly whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl or on a sheet of wax paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until they hold stiff peaks, about 1 minute.
3. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the ricotta mixture and stir until just incorporated (will still be a bit lumpy). Fold in the egg whites until just a few stray streaks of white remain. The batter will be fluffy and lumpy.
4. Heat a griddle to medium-high and brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Drop ¼ cupfuls of batter onto griddle; spread gently with the back of a spoon to make an approximate 3½-inch circle. Cook until golden brown on both sides and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
5. Either serve immediately following the steps below, or when pancakes are completely cool, wrap and freeze.
6. To serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets, placing an ovenproof wire rack on each one. Place frozen pancakes in a single layer on the wire racks and bake until warmed and slightly crispy, rotating pans and turning pancakes halfway through, 16 to 22 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream, vanilla and limoncello. Beat on high speed. As the cream gains a little volume, sprinkle sugar over, and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.
8. When pancakes are done, place a generous dollop of whipped cream between two pancakes and top with another spoonful of cream. Scatter fresh berries over top and sides. The cream will start to melt, which is lovely. Serve right away.
Learn about Marcia’s other Italian-Jewish cooking ideas with her cookbook, Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Enter to win a free copy!
Teiglach is an eastern European confection most closely associated with Rosh Hashanah. It was often served for festive occasions such as a wedding, bar mitzvah or bris and in some communities during Shavuot or Simchat Torah because Torah is often equated with honey.
Teig in Yiddish means dough and Lach at the end of a word signifies small. Therefore Teiglach are little balls of baked dough submerged in honey syrup and then mixed with dried or candied cherries or raisins and some nuts (usually almond or hazelnut).
Once readily available in bakeries in large Jewish communities throughout North America, this confection is rapidly disappearing, so whether you were raised Jewish or not, this treat may be new to you. Not to worry if your own family doesn’t have the recipe; Teiglach is easy to make!
Even small children can help make the dough because no electric equipment is required and children enjoy rolling the dough into “snakes” while you can rapidly complete the task. However, children MUST NOT be involved with making the honey syrup, as the high temperature will certainly burn them if they accidentally touch the syrup before it cools. They can watch from afar and measure the awaiting dried fruit and nuts, but an adult must work alone while making the syrup and mixing all of the ingredients together.
The Teiglach may be served in a large pyramid or a few coated balls spooned into little paper cups. It is meant to be eaten with the fingers, pulling the balls off one by one and definitely licking one’s fingers afterwards!
3 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons water
2 1/2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound wildflower honey (any honey is O.K. but wildflower is the best)
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ginger
1 piece of orange zest 2″ long 1/2 inch wide
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup candied cherries or raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, oil, water and vanilla and beat with a fork or whisk until light and combined. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, ginger and baking powder.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well combined.
4. Knead with your hands for a few minutes until dough is smooth and shiny. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Roll out small balls of dough into long 1/2-inch wide snakes and cut into 1/3 inch pieces. Roll dough pieces briefly in your hands to make balls and place them on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely or freeze until later use.
6. When you are ready to complete recipe, combine the honey, sugar, orange zest and ginger in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the teiglach balls, nuts and cherries or raisins to the honey mixture and stir to coat well. Place in a pie plate or individual tart tins mounded to form a pyramid.
What better way to celebrate and #ChooseLove on Tu B’Av, the Israeli holiday of love which falls on Friday, July 31, than with an ooey, gooey, molten chocolate cookie? In fact, this recipe is so easy, and the dough will be stored in your freezer so you can easily bake a few any time your chocolate craving strikes!
Although chocolate has always been associated with love and romance (Montezuma was purported to drink 50 glasses of chili-laced chocolate a day to make him passionate) it is really the Theobromide in cocoa (often found in asthma inhalers) coupled with caffeine that makes one feel amorous. And the Aztecs aside, there were many Jews in history resonsible for the production of chocolate as far back as the 1680s when Benjamin d’Acosta De Andrade developed a method to process cocoa beans so that they could be shipped from South America and ultimately transformed into liquid gold or later, in 1847, into the first eating chocolate.
Famous Jewish chocolate artisans included Franz Sacher, a Jewish Viennese apprentice baker who created the now-famous Sachertorte in 1832. Eli Fromenchenko opened the Elite Chocolate Company in Ramat Gan, Israel, in 1933. In 1938, another Viennese Jew, Stephen Klein, immigrated to New York and opened the first kosher chocolate shop–
Barton’s Salon de Chocolate. And in Israel today, suitors from all over Israel flock to the café called Max Brenner to buy chocolates for the lucky women they will woo on Tu B’Av!
The following recipe is my modern take on the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake but in cookie form. The taste is fantastic but the real treat is that you make the dough, shape it into balls and then freeze them. When you want to serve them, you can pop the frozen balls onto a cookie sheet and bake them for a mere 6-8 minutes. The result is a rich cookie that is firm on the outside and oozes delicious cinnamon and coffee-scented filling when bitten into. You, and your love, will enjoy these, I promise. Take a photo of your finished product, and show us how you #ChooseLove on Tu B’Av!
Molten Mocha Cinnamon Chocolate Cookies
Yield: About 2 dozen cookies
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate, either chips or chopped ¼ inch pieces
1. Combine the 10 ounces of chocolate and the butter in a one-quart glass bowl. Microwave this mixture on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Remove, stir until all chocolate is melted and set aside.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Beat eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and lemon colored. Add the espresso, cinnamon and vanilla and beat to combine.
4. Add the chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until all egg mixture is incorporated.
5. Add the flour mixture and mix only until there is no flour visible. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chips. Remove beaters and scrape down sides of bowl. Refrigerate in bowl for 15 minutes.
6. Using a 1 Tablespoon portion scoop or a rounded measuring spoon, place dough onto a parchment- or foil-lined cookie sheet.
7. Freeze dough uncovered until very hard. When frozen, remove individual dough balls to a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze until ready to bake.
8. To bake: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place frozen mounds of dough onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes (depending on size of the balls) or until the tops of the cookie are firm but very soft to the touch. Cookies will harden a little as they cool.
9. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes if you want them to be hot and gooey; longer if you want them to hold their shape a little better.
Note: Baked cookies may be refrigerated and then re-heated in a microwave for 20 seconds on high. However, cold, baked cookies are like a cross between a cookie and a truffle and quite delicious!
These molten chocolate cookies go perfectly with our Tu B’Av cherry soup! Get the recipe here.
When I was about to enter second grade and my brother was about to begin Kindergarten, our parents packed our lives up and moved the family to France for the year. We did it all again four years later as well. At the time, especially in sixth grade, I didn’t appreciate being plucked from my life in North America and put into public school in France where they didn’t celebrate birthdays at school with cupcakes, but rather celebrated each child’s Saint Day. Who knew there was even a Saint Leah?
This was just one of the many adjustments we made, but looking back it was all worth it. There are two things that sweetened the deal at the time: The wonderful French patisseries and spending time hiking in the mountains and foraging for blackberries with my brother and mom, and for mushrooms with my father. My dad and I both still consider mushrooms to be the best treat on earth. And while my father is not a huge fan of dessert, he and I do have a sweet tooth when it comes to candy.
The French biscuits known as palmiers (palm leaves) are sometimes called elephant ears. They are a perfect treat to whip up and bring along for a father’s day picnic or BBQ in celebration of the great guy who raised you, or the guy who is raising your kids. Put them in a basket lined with a cloth napkin and they make the perfect hostess gift.
These petit palmiers can be made either savory or sweet. The sweet version turns these little hearts of puff pastry into lacquered caramelized treats that pastry and candy lovers alike will enjoy. My bubbe used to make delicious biscuits called Nothings;they were light and airy and not too sweet. Adults enjoyed them dipped in coffee (and I just enjoyed sneaking them off the platter). Even though these palmiers are rich with butter from the pastry and have a shiny sugared coating, the light little heart-shaped biscuits remind me of Nothings because they both have a lightness to them and are delicious dipped in coffee.
The sweet version of palmiers are shiny and golden thanks to the caramelization of sugar. The savory version make an impressive appetizer or amuse bouche and bursts with the flavors of summer thanks to the pesto. Either one is a great way to show that you #ChooseLove.
Sweet Petit Palmiers (makes about 20 little biscuits)
1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 a pack of 17.3 oz or 490 g of puff pastry)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar, split into thirds
a pinch of salt
1. Thaw the puff pastry as directed on the packaging. Usually about 40 minutes or up to 2 or 3 hours. Once almost thawed, preheat oven to 400℉.
2. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a piece of parchment paper.
3. Put another piece of parchment paper onto the kitchen counter or a table. Sprinkle 1/3 of your sugar onto the parchment paper on the counter or table.
4. Put your puff pastry on top of the sugared parchment paper.
5. Sprinkle another 1/3 of your sugar over the puff pastry. My children love making treats for family and friends. They take great pride in sharing something they have made themselves or had a hand in making. Let the kids help with the sprinkling of the sugar. They can then also help with rolling the sugar into the dough.
6. With a rolling pin, press the sugar into the dough. Add a pinch of salt, sprinkled over the sugar here.
7. Fold the dough onto itself in thirds lengthwise. It will be folded the same way that it came in the package. If the puff pastry is more square, don’t worry about it. You can cut it in half to make two smaller rectangles.
8. Roll the rectangle out into a larger rectangle. As you can see, it will not be perfect, but you can take a butter knife and trim the edges to create a rectangle again.
9. Sprinkle 1/2 the remaining sugar (the last third of your 1/2 cup) onto the puff pastry and put the rest of the sugar on a small plate or saucer. Without handling the pastry too much, roll the long sides in on themselves until they meet in the middle. They will form one long scroll.
10. Brush a little water along the middle seam to help the rolls stick to one another. Then, with a butter knife cut 1/4 inch slices. The dough will look like snails facing one another. To transform these into hearts, pinch the bottom and press the rounded “shells” of the snails together.
11. Place each heart on the plate of remaining sugar and gently coat both sides of the heart with sugar.
12. Place the hearts about 3/4 inch apart on the tray. Bake for 8 minutes on one side at 400℉. Carefully take the tray out of the oven, and with a fork or butter knife flip the cookies over. They should be a golden caramel color. If the hearts have begun to unravel you can try to reshape them now before cooking the other side. Do be careful as the sugar is very hot. Continue cooking the other side for 5-8 more minutes until they’re dark, golden brown.
13. Take the palmiers out of the oven and cool the tray on a wire rack. If you are cooking a second batch or will be making savory palmiers right away, then carefully pull the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and the cookie sheet will be ready to go with the next batch.
Savory Petit Palmiers (makes about 20 little biscuits)
1 sheet of puff pastry
2-3 Tbsp. pesto
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan
1. Thaw the puff pastry as directed on the packaging. Usually about 40 minutes or up to 2 or 3 hours. Once almost thawed, preheat oven to 400 ℉
2. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a piece of parchment paper.
3. Put another piece of parchment paper onto the kitchen counter or a table.
4. Spread up to 3 tablespoons of homemade or store bought pesto over the puff pastry. You want the pastry nicely coated with the pesto as above, neither spread too thin nor overloaded with pesto.
5. Grate Parmesan on a plate or right over the pesto to create a thin layer of cheese.
6. Roll the pastry lengthwise from both sides (as above) until they meet in the middle creating a long double rolled rope (pictured below). These rolls are attached in the middle like a long scroll.
7. Brush the middle with a little water to help the sides stick together. Then (as above) slice the rope into 1/4 inch slices and pinch the bottom to create a heart shape.
8. Beat one egg and brush the beaten egg over the savory pesto hearts.
9. Put the tray into a 400 ℉ oven for 18-20 minutes. You can flip the palmiers 1/2 way through so that they are golden on both sides, but they are just as tasty if you are too busy playing with the leftover dough with the kids to flip them.
For fun, you can try to make words or shapes out of the leftover scraps. Bake them for 12-18 minutes and you’ll have a few extra tasty treats.
Jon Stewart, born Jonathan Leibowitz, is one of America’s best known Jews, and also in an inter-faith marriage. In 2012, as Passover and Easter were approaching Stewart encouraged Jews to up the ante on Passover as it wasn’t competing very well against Easter, especially for kids. In the “Faith Off” clip below, from The Daily Show, he says where Easter has chocolate, Passover has Matzah. Where Easter has Peeps, Passover has hard boiled eggs. You get the idea.
“Oh wait, I’ll see you over at the Red Sea ride when I’m done building ice cream pyramids.”
What about spicing things up, Jon asks? What about ice cream pyramids? Well Jon, in honor of your last Passover behind that Comedy Central desk where we’ve come to depend on you to deliver us news we can actually digest, we’re giving you just what you asked for: Ice Cream Pyramids.
This is a great way to get your kids excited about the upcoming Passover holiday, and if you’re serving a non-meat seder or Passover meal during the week of the holiday, this could certainly be the piece-de-resistance to serve as dessert.
When I started this experiment I had hoped to build a pyramid using small blocks of ice cream, similar to this sugar cube pyramid. But no matter how solid the ice cream was, or how quickly I worked, it wasn’t to be. So, plan B!
What you’ll need:
1 gallon of ice cream
Large serrated knife/chef’s knife
Chocolate, caramel, chopped nuts, Nutella (or toppings of your choice)
Before you begin:
Choose a gallon of your favorite ice cream that comes in a rectangular box. Make sure it is frozen solid.
Place your cutting board and a serrated knife in the freezer so that the ice cream won’t melt as quickly.
Clear space in the freezer for the finished product.
1. Cut the box away so that you’re left with just a large block of ice cream.
2. Cut the ice cream so that you have 1-inch thick square slices.
3. Start by placing a square on the cold cutting board, and then, if desired, cover with favorite ice cream topping, then continue to layer the same way using all of the ice cream.
4. You may need to re-freeze at a few points along the way if the ice cream is melting too quickly.
5. Next comes the carving. Each piece, from bottom to top, should be trimmed with your knife so that it’s slightly smaller than the last, until you’re at a small point for the top of the pyramid. You can then leave as is, or smooth the sides to be flat.
6. Continue by decorating the sides with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc.
7. Then place in freezer to re-firm.
8. The end result is delicious, and the process is fun! You can set this up as a race between a few teams to see who can build the pyramid the quickest, or set a timer and see which group could build the tallest pyramid in the allotted time. Traditionally, matzah is only kosher for Passover if it’s made in 18 minutes or less, so you could try setting an 18-minute limit for your game as well.
9. As soon as it’s completed, place the finished product in the freezer to let it firm up before serving. You may actually have to let it set in the freezer as you go, depending on how quickly you are assembling it.
10. To finish off, you can drizzle some chocolate sauce or caramel on top.
Chag sameach (happy holiday)! Please share your ice cream pyramid photos on InterfaithFamily’s Facebook page!