More than just parve for the course

One of the great quests of the modern kosher cook is what to offer for dessert after a meal featuring meat. Dairy items are not permissible, and just substituting non-dairy ingredients doesn’t always work well.

Paula Shoyer has done all the adapting for those of us looking to increase our parve dessert repertoire. Her new cookbook, “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-Free Recipes From Traditional to Trendy,” features everything from sugar cookies to crème brulée with non-dairy ingredients.

In a book filled with inspiring photos, Shoyer has tested and adapted each recipe for use with parve substitutions. The recipes below are adapted from the book.

Layered Baklava with Orange Blossom Syrup

Serves 20

12⁄3 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup walnut pieces

21⁄4 cups of sugar, divided

canola oil spray

1 package frozen filo dough, thawed according to package directions

juice of 1 lemon

1 cup water

2 tsp. orange blossom water Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put pistachios, almonds, walnuts and 1⁄4 cup of sugar in food processor with metal blade. Process until ground into tiny pieces but not pulverized.

Grease a 9×13-inch pan with spray oil. Cut sheets of filo to size if necessary. Lay 1 sheet in pan, spray with oil. Repeat 4 times until you have a stack of 5 sheets. Scatter 3/4 cup of the nuts mixture evenly on top. Repeat until you have 5 filo layers of 5 sheets each and 4 nut layers. Finish with filo on top. Spray the top sheet with oil.

With a sharp knife, make diagonal cut through all the layers across the pan, about 11⁄2 inches apart. Then make diagonal cuts in the other direction. Place on middle rack in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the baklava is baking, make syrup. Place remaining sugar, lemon juice and water in a small pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes. Take pan off heat, add orange blossom water and stir. When the baklava is baked, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over it. Let cool in the pan.

Coffee Cardamom Shortbread

Makes 3 to 4 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup parve margarine, cut into tablespoons

4 tsp. instant coffee granules

1 tsp. ground cardamom


Place flour, sugar, margarine, coffee and cardamom in bowl of stand mixer or food processor. Mix until dough forms. Gather dough into a ball. Divide into 4 pieces. Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and roll on the countertop to make a round log about 6 or 7 inches long and 1 to 11⁄2 inches wide. Place logs in freezer for 20 minutes or overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Unwrap dough and slice with sharp knife into slices of 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 inch. Place cookies about 11⁄2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes until bottoms of the cookies begin to brown. Slide parchment onto a cooling rack and let cookies cool.

Shiny Chocolate Sauce

1 cup water

11⁄3 cups sugar

6 oz. parve bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1-inch pieces

Place water and sugar in small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to rolling boil. Remove syrup from heat.

Put chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 45 seconds at high power, stir well. Heat for another 45 seconds and stir, then heat for 30 seconds and stir. It should melt completely. (Be careful, bowl will be hot.) Add syrup a tablespoon at a time and whisk until you can get a consistency you can drizzle. If it begins to harden, whisk in more sugar syrup until you get a thick, pourable consistency. Store covered at room temperature. Reheat in microwave.

Faith Kramer is a Bay area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].