The Best Passover Desserts are Chocolate Confections

Strawberries dipped into dark and white chocolate – Why not create these as part of Passover’s dessert?It just suddenly hit me at about 10:00 PM on Thursday night that Passover, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the “Exodus” of Jewish people from Egypt and marks the birth of Jewish people as a nation over 3000 years ago starts at sundown on Monday, April 18; if I want to post some suggestions and/or recipes for desserts I better do it now. People do not wait until Sunday night to start to think about the Passover meal, including “what is going to be for dessert?” (although, I am known to be the spur of the moment person).

Since last year (I was not blogging yet), I am breaking my head (not literally) how to create recipes that do not include the boring, tasteless matzoh meal. I also could do without the supermarket-purchased almond meal, which was never even next to almonds and although, I do like coconut cakes, the traditional coconut macaroons (even the home-made ones) are so blah.

My mother used to tell me that “from every bad thing there is some good thing will happen”..and the opposite is true, as well. It appears that we are going to prove her right. I do not feel well this week, so I am delayed in posting my Passover recipe suggestions (THE BAD THING). I need to do a fast thinking, with fast action to come up with recipes that are easy to make, do not need a lot of time, yet visually appealing, appeasing our taste buds and complying with the tradition of Passover. While I am writing down these things (as I do many times when I am not sure what to do) to help me with the thinking, a bright light came up in my brain and said: “Who says it has to be a cake?” and I replied: “Who indeed?”

I used to make tons of chocolate truffles and the variations that you can create from the base recipe are nearly unlimited. So there you are; let’s make something different and serve confections this year. (THE GOOD THING). I will use some of my proprietary recipes that were tested by many of my customers, so I know that they are delightful, appealing and no flourneeded for their creation. In addition, they will cheer-up up your holiday table.

The first thing I decided to do is called “rocher” and it is actually simple nut clusters covered with (or hold together with) tempered chocolate. You can use whole nuts, or chopped nuts; the choice is your personal preference. You can use any nut (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans…) or you can mix different nuts into a single cluster.

Here is the method for Rocher:

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and the spread the nuts on it;
  2. Set the oven temperature to 350 F (About 175 C) and toast the nuts for about 10 minutes (or until  you start to feel the pleasant aroma that results from toasting nuts), turning occasionally to ensure even toasting;
  3. Allow the nuts to cool completely to room temperature;
  4. Take the nuts and sprinkle them with a liquor like Amaretto (almond based) or Grand Marnier for orange flavor and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Stir the nuts and add to it Bakers’ sugar in a ratio of 0.5:1:00, meaning 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup of nuts and mix it.
  6. At this point you can add any kind of dried fruit, like dried cherries, or cranberries, etc. and mix it well with the nuts. You can also omit the dried fruit and use just the nuts themselves.
  7. Take 1 tablespoon of this mixture (if you using larger size nuts), or 2 tablespoons if using small-sized chopped nuts and drizzle about 2 tablespoons tempered chocolate on this mixture and mix it well; then take another tablespoon of the tempered chocolate which will serve as the “binder”, therefore do not mix this one into the nut mixture, just let it cover the bunch and place this mixture on a prepared baking sheet with parchment paper and repeat the same steps with the entire chopped nuts.
  8. Place the rochers in the refrigerator for 20 – 25 minutes to set; and wallah! you created a great little passover confection.
Dark Chocolate almond/pecan rocher

For a more interesting presentation, temper three types of chocolates: dark, milk and white, so that the presentation on the table will be colorful. Use different types of nuts, including pistachio, which adds a pleasant green color to the mixture and you can use food-safe colors to add a touch of green color to the tempered white chocolate for a colorful effect. These are very simple confections that offer a combination of crunch and melt-in-the mouth smoothness, the two most desirable “feel” for chocolate creations.

I am sure once you’ll  start work with this, your creative juices will take over. Please send me a note about your creations. I like to exchange ideas. I found over the years that it is the best method to enhance our knowledge and understanding in many things.

A bit of a caution: the dried fruit should not contain any water/fluid, or even moisture because that can spell trouble for the chocolate coat.  In addition, the chocolate has to be tempered, otherwise it will melt in your hand as soon as you touch it and it will not have the characteristic shine of tempered chocolate. Do not worry if you are not coming up with equal sizes; this is not for sale. They should appear to be “little mounds” with some height to them, and not flat patties.

Tempered Chocolate: If you just melt a good quality chocolate it should work, unless you over heat it. Dark chocolate should be melted to 87F-89F The way you check if the chocolate is in temper is, dip a knife into the melted chocolate – if tempered, the chocolate should set fast and it will have a beautiful shine.

Next we will create chocolate truffles. Do not miss them

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