What distinguishes a good dessert from an unforgettable finale? Usually it’s just a tiny dash of creative genius that takes a standard dish up to the next notch. The little extra touch, the colorful variation, or the surprise in the center is what makes a good dessert sparkle. And while some may think it’s small-minded to consider visual appeal a determining factor in a desserts success, the truth is that a good presentation plays a large part in a dish’s reception. Here is a collection of Passover desserts with a difference - dishes with a little extra something that transforms standard to spectacular.
LEMON SORBET IN LEMON CUPS
This is by far the most refreshing dessert ever. Aside from the fact that it’s delicious, this is one recipe I can do this in my sleep (that’s how many times I’ve made it.) To make it even easier combine the water and sugar in a 9x13-inch aluminum pan and place the pan directly on the stove. That makes for one pot less to clean.
I freeze the empty lemon shells since I don’t want them to spoil until I’m ready to fill them with the lemon sorbet
- 10-12 lemons (1 ½ cups of lemon juice)
- 4 cups of water
- 2 ½ cups sugar
Halve the lemons lengthwise from stem to base. Squeeze out the juice and measure 1 ½ cups to be used for the sorbet. Save the remaining juice for other uses. Use a spoon remove the pulp and pith from the inside the lemon shells and set aside.
Combine the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. When the sugar dissolves, turn off the flame and pour in the lemon juice. Mix to combine, and transfer the flavored water to a container or a 9x13-inch pan. Freeze overnight, or until it’s completely frozen. Cut the ices into chunks. Place half the chunks of ice in a food processor and blend until ices turns into a white and fluffy sorbet. (Freeze the remaining half of ices blocks while you work since it melts very fast.) Working quickly, scoop sorbet into empty lemon shells and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or inside a large container. Freeze. Repeat with second half of the ice blocks.
Note: If you repeat the freezing/blending process a second time before filling the lemon shells, the sorbet will be whiter and fluffier.
Tip: After I squeeze out the lemon juice, I store that empty lemon shells in the freezer to prevent their spoiling.
BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
WITH CARAMELIZED PEAR CHIPS
Always classic and a real family favorite. Thanks for this recipe goes to my mother in law.
Yields: 8-10 servings
- 8 eggs, separated
- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (not baking) (400 grams)
- 1 tsp coffee, dissolved in 3 Tbsp boiling water
- ¼ cup sweet red wine
Whip the egg whites until they are stiff.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler with the dissolved coffee. When chocolate/coffee is melted remove the pot from the double boiler. Gradually add the egg yolks and incorporate them while mixing well. Add the red wine. Fold in the egg whites and mix until combined. Place in individual cups that are ready to be served. Refrigerate.
Before serving, garnish with chocolate shavings and caramelized pear chips.
- 2 firm pears
- 1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Thinly slice the pears and dip each slice on both sides into sugar until lightly coated on both sides. Place the pear slices in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake pears for 15-20 minutes. Then turn the pears over and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pears in the oven to cool, to dry out.
TRI COLOR FRUIT PUREE
There are two categories of dessert people. The first includes all those that love chocolate desserts, mousses, crisps, hot and cold combination desserts, creamy cakes…. And the latter are those that prefer applesauce and fruit compotes. Once upon a time I belonged to the first group. For years I ignored my mother in laws much loved applesauce. One day she served two colors together and it spoke to me. Out of pure curiosity I tasted it and it was purely and simply divine. So simple, yet so comforting. I can’t say I switched groups but I definitely joined the crowd that’s capable of digging into a tub of…. applesauce. (homemade of course!)
- 6 apples (any kind but preferably green)
- 1 cup boiling water
- Juice of one lemon (3 Tbsp)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar
- 6-7 Tbsp sugar
Peel, core and cut the apples into large chunks. Place the apple chunks inside a saucepot and pour boiling water over them. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and sugars and bring to a boil. Lower flame to a medium heat and cook until the apples are completely soft stirring occasionally. Turn off the flame and let the apples cool. Blend the cooled apples along with the cooking water.
Strawberry/apple variation: Add 1- ½ cups strawberries to the pot. If you are using fresh strawberries add them before you begin cooking. If you are using frozen strawberries add them halfway through the cooking process.
kiwi/apple variation: Blend 3 or 4 kiwis until smooth. Add them to the blended applesauce.
Note: I tried timing the exact cooking time but found that it varies with the size of the pot ,the variety of apples… so keep an eye on the gas and you’ll see when its ready.
Note: For a refreshing change my mother in law adds fresh chunks of pineapple to the pot.
HOT CHOCOLATE MOLTEN CAKE
For once there are some food that just leave me speechless. Taste it you will then understand. An added plus the recipe does not require a mixer.
Yields: 4 servings
- 4 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
- ½ cup oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 whole large eggs
- 2 whole large egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp potato starch
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Thoroughly grease 4 individual glass oven safe cups. Alternatively you can use disposable pans.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate together with oil. With a fork or a whisk, stir in the sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and egg yolks. Add the potato starch stirring constantly. Pour into the prepared cups and bake for 13-15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven let stand for 1 minute and then invert them onto a plate.
Note: How do you know when its ready? Just the middle should feel soft and jiggly while the rim should be firm and ready like a cake. It’s important to serve this dessert right after baking. If you bake it and then reheat it, the center will dry out.