Groggers put away, but dont get groggy &mdash start Pesach baking

No sooner than the last crumbs of hamantaschen are consumed, my thoughts turn to Passover desserts. I know it’s weeks away, but this is one part of the seder meal that can be successfully prepared ahead and frozen.

The last thing I want to do on the days of heavy duty Passover cooking is worry about putting together time-consuming desserts.

From one Pesach to the next I am subconsciously collecting ideas for flourless cakes, tortes, cookies and other sweets. Rarely do I bake these days, but when it comes to Passover, it seems my mixer, food processor and ovens are working overtime.

There is something about the coming holiday’s sweet endings that are enticing to a baker because of their challenging nature. No flour, no yeast — the very ingredients that are fundamental to good pastry — so creativity and experimentation are put into play.

Eggs, ground nuts, matzah cake meal and potato starch used in different ways are used as substitutes in the following cakes.

For freezing, remember to let cakes or cookies cool completely. Wrap first in plastic, then in foil making the cake or tart airtight. Flash-freeze cookies by placing on cookie sheet in freezer until frozen. Then place in zip-lock bag. Close the bag, making sure all the air is out by squeezing.

Mocha Truffle Cake

Serves 12

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

11/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup very hot espresso or strong coffee

3/4 pound butter or margarine, room temp.

6 eggs, room temp.

Chocolate glaze (optional)

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

6 oz. butter or margarine

12 chocolate covered coffee beans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cover the bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

In a food processor, grind the chocolate with the sugar. While motor is running, pour in the hot espresso. Process until chocolate is completely melted, about 15 seconds. With a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the butter and process until incorporated. Add the eggs and process until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 6 seconds. Pour batter in prepared pan and bake about 55 minutes. Cool in pan about 30 minutes, then remove from pan.

Meanwhile make glaze: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat until smooth and shiny. Let cool about 15 minutes, then pour over cooled cake.

Almond Macaroon Cake

Serves 12

41/2 cups sliced almonds

11/2 cups plus 2 Tbs. confectioners or granulated sugar

6 egg whites

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. Grease paper. Add 3/4 cup of sliced almonds and rotate pan to coat the bottom.

In a food processor, grind the remaining almonds with the 1/2 cups of sugar and lemon zest.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add remaining sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in rest of sliced almonds carefully. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake in middle of oven until top is brown and center springs back when touched lightly. Place on cooling rack to cool. Remove sides and invert cake so sliced almonds are on top. Serve with berries or fruit compote.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].