Chocolate-Coffee Icebox Cake

 Photo by t-dawg https://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatland/

Chocolate Coffee Cake. Photo by T-dawg

Three wonderful inventions of the late 19th Century made possible a brand new type of no-bake cake. Iceboxes, instant coffee, and commercially baked cookies arrived to make life more convenient. In the summer, creative housewives made use of all of them to create a deliciously cold dessert, the icebox cake.

Before there were electric refrigerators, people had a special insulated cabinet in their kitchens to keep food cold. Ice was harvested from lakes during the winter. Every day a block of ice was delivered to be placed on the top shelf of the icebox. During the course of the day, it would melt and drip into a special pan placed beneath. The pan had to be emptied, and the ice block replaced every day. The search for convenience also involved creating foods that would not need to be refrigerated.

The desire for instant coffee and tea goes back hundreds of years. People wanted the convenience of a lightweight product that wouldn’t spoil, and could be easily prepared by just adding boiling water. In the late 1800s, Sartori Kato developed instant tea powder in Japan. About five years later, France was the birthplace of instant coffee. In 1881 Alphonse Allais filed a patent for a process to make soluble coffee. His technique involved roasting the green coffee beans, then grinding and brewing them to prepare fresh coffee. Next he poured the coffee through very hot, dry air. The brewed coffee eventually dried to a powder. This powder could be reconstituted by adding it to boiling water, creating the first cup of instant coffee. All instant coffee or tea needed was an inexpensive packaged cookie to go with it. [Read more…]

Purim Poppy Seed Cake

It is said that Queen Esther kept kosher in the palace of Shushan by eating a vegetarian diet.

Seeds and nuts have been an integral part of the diet of the Near East since ancient times. Poppy seeds featured prominently in many recipes, and are believed to have been especially favored by Queen Esther.

Photo by Neptuul

Photo by Neptuul

One delicious treat that you can bake for your Purim celebration is a traditional Turkish cake called revani. Revani is a poppy seed-semolina cake which is drenched in syrup and garnished with clotted cream.

Poppy Seed Revani

Adapted from Selcen Koca Sari 

Preparing the Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • juice from half of a lemon
  1. Cook the sugar and water in a pot until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the lemon.
  3. Stir the syrup over medium heat until it thickens.
  4. Turn off the flame, and set aside.

Baking the Cake

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup ground poppy seeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix all ingredients.
  3. Pour the batter into an oiled cake pan.
  4. Bake for between 40 and 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the syrup over it.
  6. Allow the cake to rest for a few hours so it may absorb the syrup.
  7. To serve, top with Clotted Cream.

Zucchini Cake for Thanksgiving

— by Margo Sugarman

When you hear “zucchini” you are not likely to think about cakes, but zucchini’s winter spicy taste goes perfectly with a Thanksgiving meal, and most importantly for a post-Turkey dessert, zucchini cakes are parve.

Zucchini CakeA zucchini cake may not look gorgeous, but it is moist and tastes wonderful. Another advantage: It freezes well, so you can make it a few days before and save time on your Thursday cooking.

This recipe makes one large cake or two loaves that serve about 16. You can also halve it and bake it in a 24-centimeter round pan if you do not need to feed lots of guests, or even prepare them as muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  2. Grease two 8×4-inch loaf pans or one 11-inch spring-form pan, or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  3. In a mixer, beat the eggs and add the oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit, if using, and stir into the egg mixture.
  5. Divide the batter into prepared loaf pans or muffin cups, or pour into the baking pan.
  6. Bake loaves for between 45 and 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake much more quickly: between 15 and 20 minutes.

Margo Sugarman is the creator of The Kosher Blogger.

Easy Passover Cake Three Ways

— by Ronit Treatman

Passover is a time of visiting with family and friends, as well as entertaining.

It is easier than you think to make a delicious home-baked dessert to sweeten these encounters: All you need is a torte to form the base, freshly whipped heavy cream, melted chocolate, nuts, and spring berries.

In my family, these cakes were rolled, with the filling on the inside. Something always goes wrong when I try this, so I just serve them like strawberry shortcakes.

Recipes follow the jump.
For all of these cakes, preheat the oven to 350°F, and oil a 9-inch round cake pan. Note that peanuts, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds are kitniyot.

Nut Cake

  • 2 3/4 cups toasted and ground walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, Macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, or coconut.
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 eggs, separated
  1. Place the ground nuts, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks and the cane sugar for about 5 minutes.
  3. When the egg mixture is fluffy, fold it into the nut mixture.
  4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites.
  5. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  6. Fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Sponge Cake

  • 1/4 cup matzo meal
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  1. Whip the egg yolks, orange zest, and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl.
  2. In a different bowl, whip the egg whites with 1/2 cup of sugar.
  3. Add the matzo meal, potato flour, and orange juice to the yolk mixture.
  4. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk batter.
  5. Fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan.
  7. Bake for 70 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.


Photo by Tim Sackton. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Chocolate Cake

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups ground almonds (or other nut of your choice)
  • 7/8 cup sugar
  • 10 eggs, separated
  1. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.
  2. Whip the yolks and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and ground almonds.
  4. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into a prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 60 minutes.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool.

All of these cakes are delicious unadorned, and pair very well with coffee or tea. However, you can have fun garnishing them. Here are some easy ideas you may use separately or together:

Whipped Cream

  • heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • nuts
  1. Whip the cream with the sugar and brandy.
  2. Spread the whipped cream over the cake.
  3. Sprinkle some nuts over the cream.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle some powdered sugar over your cake, melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and spread the melted chocolate over it, or garnish it with fresh spring berries.

Tahini-Carrot Cake for Tu B’Shvat

— by Ronit Treatman

During the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, the “New Year of the Trees,” it is always freezing in Philadelphia. I enjoy celebrating with foods that incorporate dry fruits and nuts, to honor the trees, and in hopes that spring will arrive soon.  

One of Israel’s most creative chefs, Yaron Albalak, has created a cake for Tu B’Shvat which is infused with the flavors of Israel’s trees. Almond extract, date honey, dried apricots and pistachio nuts pay homage to the bounty nature has blessed us with.  

This moist, delicious cake pairs perfectly with a cup of hot tea.

Full recipe after the jump.
Tahini-Carrot Cake — Adapted from chef Yaron Albalak

For the batter:

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur or almond extract
  • 1/2 cup raw tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured dry apricots, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the garnish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the batter in a bowl, and mix well.
  3. Pour into an oiled Bundt pan.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes. (Check the cake with a wooden toothpick. If necessary, allow to bake longer.)
  5. Drizzle the cake with Silan date honey, garnish with shaved halva and pistachios.  

Hummus Chocolate Cake? Yes It Is, And Good For Passover

— by Margo Sugarman

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 Kosher For Passover and pareve 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.

Full recipe after the jump.
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 chickpeas 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 Kosher For Passover 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 Passover (Kitniyot)
Adapted from Seattle Foodshed blog

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or 200g dark chocolate pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 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.

Margo Sugarman is the creator of The Kosher Blogger, a celebration of keeping kosher and loving good food.

The Kosher Table: The Cake that Tastes like Hel (and Not like Hell!)

— by Margo Sugarman

The Hebrew word for cardamom is “hel” and is, which naturally lends itself to all sorts of silly wordplay. So when I found this wonderful recipe for a cardamom sour cream cake in Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home, mirth ensued.

Firstly, finding a cardamom flavored cake in a recipe book by a Irish chef, was amusing to me. Seeing as cardamom is so prevalent in Israel and the Middle East, and, for those of you who don’t know, provides that distinctive perfumed taste in the locally popular “Turkish coffee”, I have decided to adopt this recipe as an Israeli cake.

Full recipe after the jump.
So here’s one good reason to make this cake, besides its aromatic Middle Eastern flavor: It’s really quick and easy to make! I didn’t even take out my mixer as you shouldn’t over-beat the batter, and there’s no whipping or creaming or over-blending to be done. So within five minutes, you will have this cake in the oven.

The batter was quite heavy, so I was a little concerned. “I wonder how this will taste?” I pondered to my son. “It will probably taste like hell,” he answered without missing a beat. I walked straight into that one, didn’t I. Actually, the cake came out beautiful and moist, and the cardamom flavoring was far from overpowering. And the easy topping was the perfect complement.

In my experience, cakes that call for buttermilk or sour cream tend to be moist, and I am always glad to try them. This one’s no exception. So while it tastes like hel, it really doesn’t taste like hell at all.

Cardamom and Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 egg
  • 200 ml (6.7 fl oz) sour cream (minus 1 tablespoon to be set aside for the topping)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (hel)

Topping

  • 1 tablespoon sour cream (that you had set aside)
  • About 1 1/4 cup of powdered (icing sugar)

How to do it

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Line the bottom of a small 20-24 cm (8-9 inch) spring form pan with baking paper and spray the insides.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add all but one tablespoon of the sour cream and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and cardamom and carefully blend together by folding the dry ingredients into the wet. Don’t over-beat — the mixture should be a little lumpy.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (don’t over-bake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool down before removing from the pan.
  6. Mix together the topping ingredients and make sure it’s not too runny but will just ooze down the sides of the cake (add more powdered sugar if necessary.)

Margo Sugarman is the creator of The Kosher Blogger, a website of keeping kosher and loving good food.

Perfect Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Bundt cake— by Ronit Treatman

Have you ever baked a honey cake that was too dry, gooey, or left a bitter aftertaste?  I have produced these and many other flops.  As a result, I embarked on a quest to discover a foolproof recipe.  I encountered it in Marcy Goldman’s A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.  Her rich fragrant cake is the perfect treat to serve your guests or bake for your hosts when celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

More after the jump.
Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake
Adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman

  • 1 cup of mild honey such as clover, acacia, or alfalfa
  • 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup whisky
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup freshly brewed quality coffee
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Honey cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Coat the interior of a 10 inch Bundt cake pan with vegetable oil.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan.
  5. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes.  This cake is ready when the center springs back easily when touched.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to rest in the Bundt pan for 15 minutes.
  7. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

When this golden cake emerges from the oven, your home will be filled with the exotic aroma of honey and spices.  The first bite will reveal a perfect, moist texture.  The flavor is a sublime balance of honey and spices.  This delicious, rich cake will be the crowning touch of any Rosh Hashanah meal or gathering.    

Celebrate Passover with Recipes from the White House!

— by Max Samis

In preparation for the upcoming Passover holiday, President Barack Obama invited members of the Jewish community to the White House for a special cooking demonstration and discussion. Sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the National Endowment for the Humanities, White House chef Bill Yosses worked with Jewish chef Joan Nathan to demonstrate how to make, among other dishes, apple and pear charoset and matzo chremsel.

Haaretz writer Vered Guttman was one of the guests invited to the event. Guttman wrote:

Before the seder each year, guests are asked to send Bill and White House executive chef Cris Comerford their own family’s Passover recipes. The chefs then design a menu for the seder and prepare the dishes according to the guests’ recipes.

In previous years they served the classics: haroset and brisket. When we met Wednesday. Bill said they were still working on this year’s menu. He did know, however, which desserts would be served: A flourless chocolate cake (which he promises will be on the White House website before the holiday) and a delicious sounding apricot roll cake, that he was kind enough to share the recipe with me. Bill gets extra points for a dessert that is not only fabulous, but also inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. Does the president eat Jewish or Israeli food during the year? I asked.

‘The president LOVES Israeli couscous!’ Bill didn’t have to think much before he answered. Since Israeli couscous is one of the most popular foods imported from Israel, it is often the target of boycott threats by anti-Israeli groups.

More after the jump.


Joan Nathan and Bill Yosses preparing haroset together at the White House. Photo by Vered Guttman

In addition to the President’s love of Israeli couscous, Guttman spoke with Yosses about other Israeli foods used in the White House. Guttman wrote:

Obama keeps a very open mind about food and likes to try new dishes, Bill told me. He added that the Israeli produce imported to the U.S. is known at the White House kitchen to be of highest quality and the chefs like to use Israeli vegetables and fruit. He could not tell me where they get their produce, as the White House chefs are instructed not to reveal their suppliers for security reasons.

As Joan began her demonstration, she told us that the Passover seder is the holiday most-observed by American Jews. Joan herself will host 44 guests at her house in Washington next week. ‘Nowhere in the world, except for Israel and the U.S., do Jews feel that comfortable,’ Joan said as she started her cooking demonstration.

It has been a tradition since the 2008 presidential campaign for the Obama family to host a private seder for their Jewish staffers. In a 2010 article in the New York Times, Jodi Kantor wrote about the seder’s roots in Pennsylvania and how it has grown. Kantor wrote:

One evening in April 2008, three low-level staff members from the Obama presidential campaign — a baggage handler, a videographer and an advance man — gathered in the windowless basement of a Pennsylvania hotel for an improvised Passover Seder.

Suddenly they heard a familiar voice. ‘Hey, is this the Seder?’ Barack Obama  asked, entering the room.

So begins the story of the Obama Seder, now one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions. When Passover begins at sunset on Monday evening, Mr. Obama and about 20 others will gather for a ritual that neither the rabbinic sages nor the founding fathers would recognize.

As the White House seder grows in scope and tradition, American Jews can be proud that the President of the United States will once again be observing Passover in the White House.