Long gone are the days when a treat during Passover meant a day-old slice of pesadig sponge cake, one of those half-moon, rind-trimmed jelly candies or a sticky coconut macaroon from a can.
The annual week that commemorates the Jews’ exodus from Egypt — previously marked by vast culinary deprivation — has evolved in the last couple decades, and kosher gourmands have breathed a collective sigh of relief.
There are few foods these days that do not have their kosher for Passover equivalent. And while not all these new food items may taste exactly like their non-Passover counterparts, it’s hard to deny that, gastronomically speaking, things are a lot better and continue to improve each year.
Pittsburghers upholding the dietary restrictions of the holiday will be able to find a host of new kosher foods products in area retail stores leading up to the annual holiday, which begins the night of April 3.
Shoppers at Giant Eagle stores, for example, will discover several new Manischewitz products, including raisin and spice cookies, gluten free garlic and rosemary matzah-style squares, and carrot cake macaroons at select area locations.
Whole Foods also has some promising new offerings this year, highlighted by baked goods by Rebecca and Rose Bakery: a gluten-free version of brownie and blondie crunch; cookies; and the first commercially available boxed Passover donut, which happens to be chocolate frosted.
Also new at Whole Foods are two varieties of Gefen apple crisps; Gefen cashew butter; hot pepper Zeta brand olive oil; gluten-free Cajun panko from Chef Jeff Creations; and Kedem’s first biodynamic grape juice.
At Murray Avenue Kosher in Squirrel Hill, a large selection of new gluten-free, kosher for Passover offerings line the shelves, including bagels and blintzes, said Lila Weiss, the store’s owner.
Also new at Murray Avenue this year are three new flours: Lieber’s almond flour, Lieber’s coconut flour and Pereg quinoa flour. Which of course, for kosher bakers, begs the question: What can you do with them?
Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups almond flour
½ cup softened margarine or butter
¼ to ½ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the almond flour, baking soda, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the softened margarine or butter and stir well by hand until mixed. It should form a thick dough that is hard to stir.
Add the egg and mix well. This should make the dough more formable and easier to mix. If needed, add a teaspoon or two of water to thin. Finished dough should be easy to form.
Add chocolate chips and stir by hand until incorporated. Form dough into tablespoon size balls and bake for 10 minutes or until tops are starting to turn golden brown. The centers will be somewhat soft, but they will continue to harden once they are removed from oven. Let cool at least 5 minutes and serve.
Adapted from wellnessmama.com.
Coconut Flour Banana Bread
1 cup coconut flour
1½ cup very ripe bananas (2-3 bananas)
6 Tbsp. margarine
5 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp.-1 Tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Oil or butter your bread pans. Line with parchment paper.
Smash the bananas. In the banana bowl, mix in the honey, margarine, vanilla and eggs. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared bread pans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The top and edges should be a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Store in refrigerator.
Adapted from mygutsy.com.
Gluten-free Quinoa Brownies
½ cup butter
4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
1/2 cup quinoa flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale; beat in the chocolate mixture, vanilla and salt. Add flour and beat on low speed or stir just until blended.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until just set and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Makes 16 brownies.
Adapted from babble.com.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.