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.

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Phoning It In: Pumpkin Swirl Brownies


Last weekend I travelled to North Carolina to cook for visit my bestie’s newborn daughter. My husband and college buddy made two of the Food Lab’s amazing spinach lasagnas (the army-base carnivores went back for seconds), 30 burritos (green chili chicken and stewed beef), and a truly enormous triple-batch of Flour’s banana bread (also baked in a giant lasagna pan). All of this made its way into my friends’ chest freezer for the next month of eat/sleep/nurse sustenance, as it pleases their tiny adorable dictator. There was a lot of kitchen time in my week. A LOT. Which is why I’m not surprised that sci-fi night rolled around without any baking or even baking plans. I had meant to do the baking on one of my wide-open days with no meetings or tutoring appointments. Oh well.

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Cranberry Chess Pie: The Beginning of a Study In How to Make Normal Sized Desserts

cranberry chess pie

I had stepped away from baking for a bit, and when I came back to it, my life was different. I married my partner in crime, and in a strange twist we started weightlifting together, shifting our diet away from things that aren’t animal protein or vegetables.

On the other hand, I spend one night a week with dear friends watching sci-fi (when available, or whatever ridiculous shows are available instead), drinking wine, eating cheese and ordering the best delivery we can find on Seamless. At some point I decided that civilized gatherings require pie. Sci-fi Pie. This gathering draws between four and eight humans on a average, and the idea of making an entire batch of brownies or a standard size pie was troubling. None of us are kids in our 20s. We want our pie, but we don’t want to be stuck with the 3/4 of an entire pie that would remain if we each had a slice.

Continue reading “Cranberry Chess Pie: The Beginning of a Study In How to Make Normal Sized Desserts”