The Great (Passover) Dessert Challenge

Can the Best Pastry Chefs Sugar Coat an Age-Old Dilemma?

Ooh La La: Pastry chef Francois Payard creates French-inspired Passover desserts like these Petit Fours.The box is a collection of almond cookies and flavors include cherry, chocolate chip, slivered almond, candied orange and powdered sugar.
Felipe Coronado
Ooh La La: Pastry chef Francois Payard creates French-inspired Passover desserts like these Petit Fours.The box is a collection of almond cookies and flavors include cherry, chocolate chip, slivered almond, candied orange and powdered sugar.

By Adeena Sussman

Published March 20, 2013, issue of March 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

Since she isn’t bound by religious practice, she has no problem taking an unconventional approach to her Beard House task, where she’ll serve a midcourse of milk-and-honey soup with honey, yogurt ice cream and almond brittle, as well as a dessert of individual haroset-flavored cakes accented with apples, cinnamon and walnuts.

Still, every year at her East Village shop, she recreates a classic Passover dessert similar to one many Israelis grew up on: layers of softened matzo, in this case moistened with Stumptown coffee, drizzled with a halvah-laced coffee-chocolate sauce.

Cloud Cookies: Payard puts his own twist on this Passover treat. Try the recipe below.
Adeena Sussman
Cloud Cookies: Payard puts his own twist on this Passover treat. Try the recipe below.

For a modern take on the matzo layer cake his grandmother used to make, wedding cake guru Ron Ben-Israel, who also hosts the Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” and produces a separate line of kosher cakes, sprinkles his matzo with apple juice, then enrobes it in a special ganache he creates using top-quality chocolate, simple syrup and almond or rice milk in lieu of cream. “A good ganache is something everyone should have in their repertoire,” said Ben Israel, who also recommends using it in Passover-friendly ways: as a cake icing; in a silky pot de crème (a mousselike pudding) or, when chilled, as the base for simply decadent truffles.

For some bakers, Passover is also a chance to employ ingredients they love. At New York’s recently opened Breads Bakery — an offshoot of the wildly popular Tel Aviv chain Lechamim — proprietor Uri Scheft uses top-quality, German-made Lubeca marzipan in a variety of desserts.

Scheft, who trained in Paris under legendary baker Eric Kayser, plans to incorporate more marzipan items into a Passover-friendly item this year, though his specific menu hasn’t been finalized. “I love its delicate nature, Passover or no Passover,” said Scheft. “The fact that it works for the holiday is a bonus.”

While many pastry gurus look at Passover as a culinary challenge akin to offering one or two vegan or gluten-free options amid a sea of quotidian options, others are literally bound to traditions.

“Passover? Wow, I hate Passover,” Julien Bohbot said over the phone from Los Angeles, where he owns Delice, considered by many to be the most authentic French-style kosher bakery in America. Bohbot was just days away from opening the special production facility he operates every year for two weeks in advance of the first Seder.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.