Kosher for Passover Bittersweet Brownies

It’s that time of year again when I spend an inordinate amount of time swearing at magazine articles about “easy Passover desserts” for including dairy products. Most passover recipes in magazines are great for jews who want to eat traditional food (no grains) during passover but they are way off limits for jews who “keep kosher” in terms of meat, milk, and excluding seeds and legumes (as many Ashkenazi traditions do during passover). While I’m not a jew, I act as executive pastry chef (and sous chef, and bottle washer) for my college comrade’s parent’s seder in upstate New York. The celebration averages 40 people over two sessions starting on the first night of Passover. It’s a meal that typically includes meat, which means my pastry menu must omit dairy in addition to the all-Passover ban on grains, leavening, legumes and seeds. The meal is prepared in a kosher kitchen, which ratchets up a notch of complexity over Passover when two separate sets of dishes swap in, and all yeast, grain, and legume-related items are ostracized to the basement for the duration.

I’ve tried to build a menu that avoids circa 1955 Better Homes and Gardens preparations, while maximizing my own sanity as a non-food-service-professional. It’s a work in progress.

In reviewing last year’s pastry menu (of which I have NO MEMORY: I blame wedding-planning trauma) I found this adaptation, and thought it should be on the internet. I’ll post some more of the old tried and true recipes as we get closer to the holiday.

Depending on how hard-core the kosher kitchen, you should expect to source kosher for passover (KP) versions of margarine, vanilla, cocoa, chocolate, confectioner’s sugar, and cake meal. You should probably make sure your granulated sugar is strictly evaporated cane juice, because kosher jews, vegetarians, and vegans may (understandably) have issues with the production process of standard megamart white granulated sugar.

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Almond Butter Frosting

Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 40-50 small squares

For the brownies:
3/4 cup (170 grams) KP margarine, plus more for the pan
3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated cane sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup leftover black coffee from breakfast, cooled
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (70 grams) matzoh cake meal

For the frosting:
6 tablespoons (85 grams) KP margarine, at room temperature
3/4 cup (100 grams) smooth almond butter
1/3 cup (40 grams) KP confectioners’ sugar (contains potato starch instead of cornstarch)
1/2 teaspoon flake salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Grease an 8-inch square pan.
Line the pan with parchment paper so that a couple inches hang over the edge. Then grease the parchment.

In a bowl that is large, microwave-safe, and fits in your microwave (hey, that’s a difficult intersection in my kitchen!): melt chopped chocolate and margarine in a microwave in 30 second increments, whisking in between.

Whisk in the sugar and vanilla while the butter mixture is still warm. Stir in the eggs, salt, and coffee until well blended.

Over the bowl with the chocolate mixture, sift in the cocoa powder and matzoh cake meal. Fold the ingredients together until just combined using a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle pulls out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the frosting, with an electric hand mixer, whip together the margarine, almond butter, and KP confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Continue to mix until everything is well combined and the frosting has lightened in color. Frost the cooled brownies and finish with the flake salt. Cover and stash in the fridge.

These suckers are best just out of the fridge. Pull them out of the pan with the handy parchment paper lining and set on a cutting board. Cut them into much smaller pieces than you would for actual brownies: for cutting purposes, think of them as fudge.
If they’re too hard to cut when they’re fresh from the fridge, let sit at room temp for 10 min. I like the texture better when they are somewhat cold, so don’t leave them at room temperature for many hours before dinner. Instead pull them out after the meal but before the closing of the seder.

Brownies can be made 1 to 3 days in advance. The frosting can be made up to 1 week in advance. I’m pretty sure I had to make an emergency second batch of these because they rapidly disappeared during the first night’s seder.