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Sephardic Passover Dessert recipes in NYT--did anyone try them?

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Did anyone try Joan Nathan's Sephardic Passover dessert recipes in last week's New York Times? There was one for a chocolate mousse made with olive oil, one for a flan, and one for an almond cookie (I would have better details but the article is already behind the Times Select Firewall). How did they turn out? I'd be particularly interested in hearing about the chocolate mousse, because I'd prefer to avoid the pareve margarine called for in most pareve chocolate pesach recipes.

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  1. Made the almond-lemon macaroons. Although the recipe called for abaking time of 8-10 minutes, I baked for 15 minutes (they never achieved the bare hint of color called). Everyone raved about them. Very simple to make. I would make them again.

    1. I made both the macaroons and the chocolate mousse. As anndillman said, the macaroons are excellent.

      The chocolate mousse? Sensational! Creamy and very rich. Next time, I might up the ante on the liqueur. Maybe even use Grand Marnier instead of plain brandy. The recipe states that it serves 8 to 10. Since we were preparing several desserts, I halved the recipe, and the volume was *much* greater than I expected. I put it in one large bowl, but if you were to do it in individual dessert cups, the volume of batter I had would fill way more than 4 or 5 small cups. It's quite rich, so I think the halved recipe can easily serve 8 people.

      7 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        I made the mousse too and it was excellent. One of my pet peeves is chocolate mousse that tastes like someone put a little chocolate syrup into whipped cream -- this was no such thing. The absence of cream in this recipe makes the chocolate flavor really deep and wonderful. It was chocolatey enough in flavor to be a truffle if it were heavier. Delicious. I am not kosher but this is my new chocolate mousse recipe, hands down.

        1. re: RGR

          While there is some decent Passover brandy available I wouldn't suggest using Grand Marnier for one major reason - it isn't kosher at all, Passover or otherwise.

          1. re: RGR

            Could you possibly post the chocolate mousse recipe?

            1. re: bxgirl

              Chocolate and Olive Oil Mousse

              11 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao)
              8 large eggs, separated
              3/4 cups sugar
              1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
              2 tablespoons ksoher for Passover brandy

              Melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Cool slightly
              Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until light.
              Whisk in olive oil, brandy and melted chocolate.
              Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
              Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.
              Fold whites into chocolate mixture so that no white streaks remain.
              Spoon into 8- or 10- cup serving bowl, or divide among 8-10 dessert cups or glasses.
              Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

              1. re: RGR

                Thank you so much for posting this. I appreciate it.

                1. re: RGR

                  Raw eggs? Are they okay now?

                  1. re: MommaJ

                    When I made this recipe I altered it a tad and added the hot chocolate directly into the eggs and beat them together quickly -- I even added the whites while it was still hot. It was still reasonably the right texture at the end and I felt better about it knowing the eggs were tempered.

                    In general, raw eggs shouldn't hurt healthy adults... but children, older folks and anyone with any other conditions... it's iffy. Personally, I don't tempt fate.

            2. I also made the macaroons and had to bake them for 15 min- everyone LOVED them! So easy to make- definitely a keeper!

              1. Was the flan the orange-almond one? If so, everyone loved it - couldn't believe it wasn't dairy. My quibble, though, is that I don't have the proper pan so I subbed an 8" cake pan as noted in the recipe. Way, way too much filling for that pan size. I had three extra ramekins worth of flan (not a bad thing) which I intend to brulee in the next day or so.

                1. The almond-lemon macaroons were sublime! I baked them for 10 minutes, and it was sufficient. The only part of the recipe I didn't like was blanching the almonds, so I gave that job to my dear SO--he knew he'd be amply rewarded with a delicious treat. The macaroons were very easy to make, and it will become a Passover staple in my house--heck, I'll make them all year!

                  1. Also made the almond-lemon macaroons, and 10 mins of baking was plenty enough for me, too. I found them a bit of a hassle to form (the dough is sticky, but not that cohesive-- pushing the whole almonds into them made them crumble a little; I found it took some re-forming to make sure they were sufficiently held together.) Another time, I might skip the step of rolling them in extra sugar, too--they were rather too sweet for me!

                    The flavor was nice though and they were a tremendous hit. I might try again some time with pre-ground almond flour, even if it the color might not be so nice

                    1. would someone post the almond cookie recipe? i threw out the paper before cutting it out. thanks

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: iraf

                        Almond-Lemon Macaroons

                        2 cups whole blanched almonds, plus 30 almonds for decoration
                        1 cup granulated sugar
                        1 large egg
                        Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

                        Grind 2 cups almonds very finely in a food processor.
                        Add 3/4 cu sugar, the egg and lemon zest, and pulse to make cohesive dough.
                        Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

                        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

                        Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick liner.

                        Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl.

                        Pinching off pieves of dough about the size of a walnut, roll first into balls, then into sugar.
                        Gently press an almond, point first, into top of each cookie so that half the almond can be seen.
                        Place cookies 1" apart on baking sheet.

                        Bake until cookies have barest hint of color but still remain soft, 8-10 minutes. (Note: Cookies must be soft when removed to avoid excess hardening when they cool.) Cool completely and store in airtight container.

                        Makes approx. 30 cookies
                        I could not find whole blanched almonds, so I used the more easily found packages of blanched slivered almonds for the dough and whole almonds with skin on the decoration. Also, I checked after they baked 8 minutes, then left them for the two additional minutes, but as several others have said, the macaroon tops never took on any color though they did brown lightly on the bottom.

                        1. re: RGR

                          I too made the macaroons with some changes. I used raw almonds, did not bother to blanch them, added twice the lemon peel, a pinch of salt and a little vanilla. I also skipped the whole almond in the middle. They turned out great in 8 min. lightly browned.I was only able to get 24 from the recipie, not 30. I will definately make them again. Glad to hear the mousse is so good. I will be trying that next.

                          1. re: jwolf

                            We also got only 24 macaroons. I never thought about increasing the lemon peel, but I think that's an excellent idea, particularly if someone would like a stronger lemon flavor -- that would be me -- because using the original amount, there is only a hint of the lemon.

                            1. re: jwolf

                              I also only got about 24, but seeing as they're a bit crumbly (and very sweet), I figure I'd rather have them smaller another time (single bite size, rather than 2 bites)
                              I'm also a lemon fan, though kind of like the subtlety of this one. (I'll cut down the sugar next time to let the stated amount of lemon shine through more)

                              1. re: another_adam

                                While I didn't find the dough crumbly, it was typicaly sticky and thicker than other macaroons that I've made. If you dampen the palms of your hands with water you should have an easier time forming them.

                                1. re: jwolf

                                  Thanks-- yeah, since the dough was sticky, I had used a spoon to scoop out rows of unformed portions and then formed them with wet hands by rolling and then pressing a little onto the sheet to flatten the bottom. That part was OK, but when I put the whole almonds into them, it required care because they had to be "re-packed" around the almond, so that they didn't break them apart too much. Not so much difficult as time-consuming. I think thought that in the end, I have a low cookie tolerance for individual shaping (I usually make biscotti or mandelbret to avoid it; it's odd that this doesn't extend to hors d'oevres and other things, but maybe it's just that I don't like cookies very much). So, I'm probably not a very good metric of whether these cookies are really a pain in the neck by cookie standards :)

                                  1. re: another_adam

                                    Hmmm... While the dough was a bit sticky, I pinched off pieces with my fingers and didn't need to wet my hands to roll the pinched pieces into balls. Also, I'm surprised to hear that you had trouble keeping the dough together when inserting the almonds. I didn't find that a problem at all. Actually, my daughter and I did this together, and we finished the rolling, sugaring, and almond insertion in about 10 minutes. Overall, I thought these macaroons were a breeze to make.

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      Interesting! Maybe my almonds weren't as finely ground, or my sugar didn't become as sticky when resting? (I used turbinado raw crystallized sugar, it stays quite "whole" in the process). Or maybe my egg was smaller, my fridge less humid, my almonds dryer, my forming technique less adept, or any number of other possible variables :) I also left my dough in the fridge for longer than required (2 days? 3 days? I can't remember now) due to scheduling limitations. Usually that's helpful, not harmful, though.

                                      I may try again one day with regular almond meal, which is finer and requires a couple less steps.

                                      1. re: another_adam

                                        You're right. The variables you mentioned could certainly make a difference between how your dough turned out vs. mine or anyone else's.