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Shabbat Meals: Dessert No Piece of Cake?

Image by Flickr: Kimberly KV

When I first started keeping a kosher home, the biggest change was dessert. True there were new sets of dishes to keep track of, and combinations of foods that were not allowed, but the thing that would trip me up the most was planning our Friday night meals. We like to serve meat on Shabbat. It’s a treat, and much enjoyed. But that means…parve dessert?

Not all desserts have milk or dairy products in them. But let’s be honest: the good ones do! And being health and environmentally conscious, I wasn’t about to jump on the margarine and soy-milk bandwagon to make creamy things with fake cream. So I’ve gradually adopted two strategies to address this conundrum:

First, I found I do actually have a handful of great parve dessert recipes, which I can make when we’re serving a crowd or really want something special (recipes below). They’re parve by accident, that is, they just don’t call for any dairy products, and that puts them squarely beyond suspicion in my book.

Secondly, we usually have dessert on Saturday morning instead. Not serving desert Friday night seemed sacrilegious at first, but logical upon reexamination: we make really good food, and we’re usually full after dinner. Why put effort into making another course that we really don’t need to eat anyways? If additional treats are needed as we linger around the table, dried fruit, nuts and some peppermint tea usually does the trick.

And on Saturday morning, the cake can have dairy (hooray!) and there’s nothing else to distract us: the coffee cake, scones, soda bread, etc. gets to be the star of the show. Which is really how it should be with baked goods anyways, in my opinion.

This Chocolate Applesauce Cake is my grandma’s recipe. It was my favorite cake when I was growing up, and the one I would always request for my birthday parties. Moist and delicious, with chocolate chips and raisins, it’s sweet but not over the top, and just so happens to be parve (if you use non-dairy chocolate chips or good dark chocolate)!

A few other quick shout outs, one parve and one not:

I’ve taken quite a liking to the peanut butter cookies from the Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook – made with nothing but peanut butter, honey, flour, eggs and baking soda. You can find the recipe here.

And for Saturday morning, in my opinion the best (and very dairy) cake of them all is the Sour-Cream Coffee Cake from the Silver Palate Cookbook (you can find the recipe online here. It fills a bundt pan and can really serve 8-10 people – or one happy couple for a whole week.

I’d love to hear about your favorite Shabbat deserts, parve or dairy – do share! [email protected]

Chocolate Applesauce Cake
By Judy Miller (parve / no dairy)

Mix all this dry stuff together:
2 cups sifted flour
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt
1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cooking oil
1- 1/2 cups applesauce (1# can)
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Mix good.
Bake in oiled tube (or bundt) pan, or two loaf pans 1 hour at 350F. Test with toothpick for doneness.

Anna Hanau is the Associate Director of Programs at Hazon, and co-authored “Food for Thought, Hazon’s Sourcebook on Jews, Food and Contemporary Life.” She and her husband Naf Hanau founded a kosher pastured meat business called Grow and Behold Foods in summer 2010, and she keeps a flock of chickens in her backyard in Brooklyn.


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