Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter (Passover) noms

(Updated below)

Happy Easter to all you Easter-celebrating folks out there. The closest I got to anything Easter-like today was walking past the Catholic church on my way to and from the farmer's market this morning, and eating our family's traditional Easter dinner of ham, potatoes Anna, and asparagus. But as with Christmas, the fact that I'm no longer a practicing Christian doesn't mean I can't use the holiday as an excuse to bake even more than usual.

The baking that I did is not actually Easter-specific. (I still have half a mind to bake some Easter- or spring-themed cupcakes, but that's neither here nor there.) In fact, even though as you can see from the aforementioned ham that my family is not Jewish, these nommable goods are more appropriate for Passover. I quite like the idea, one of these years, of keeping kosher* for passover. The challenge is attractive, and unlike giving something up for the entire 40 days of Lent (again, my family isn't Catholic, but I like to play games with my food) eating kosher for the eight days of Passover strikes me as an eminently manageable task.

But I digress, and we have goodies to discuss. First up is a recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen: chocolate caramel crack(ers). I'm just going to point you to her post, as I followed her directions to the letter. But, about those directions: I might recommend that you employ a candy thermometer when making the caramel, as mine wound up underdone and a bit grainy. Even though, like I said, I followed the directions to the letter. I don't have much experience making caramel, and I should have done a bit more reading before I tried it. That said, the stuff tastes great and I'm sure it will be gone in no time. (Fortunately I have a family who delights in exchanging baked goods, so I was able to leave most of it--and most of the next item--with my parents and hungry siblings.)

Update: A second batch with a different caramel-making method yielded better results for me. I've written it up here.

Next up is something that I've wanted to be able to make for a long time, but never got quite right: tuiles. Specifically, almond-flavored tuiles with a bit of lemon zest in them. I've tried making them before, but they were a disaster. I now suspect that their downfall was the wheat flour I used, specifically the gluten. Bad gluten. Evil gluten. At least in these matters. The stroke of brilliance in this recipe is potato starch, which I didn't even realize existed as grocery store item until I saw it in the "kosher for Passover" display at the store this week. Learning something new every day and all that. Anyway, the potato starch did the trick, and these tuiles came out gorgeously light and crisp. They're delightful on their own, but I bet they'd also be great stuck in a scoop of ice cream.

I love these cookies not just because they're delicious, though of course they are, but because the batter is so easy to work with. There's no special process to assembling it: you throw all the ingredients together at once and whisk away. And because there's no insta-leavening involved, you can proceed at a leisurely pace without worrying that all the air will escape and leave your cookies flat. Spreading the batter out into a picture-perfect round is something I have yet to accomplish, but that's not the batter's fault; and because a little of this batter goes a long way, you'll have plenty of chances to practice.

Full recipe below the fold. Enjoy!

Almond Tuiles

Modified from Gourmet, April 2009
Yield: Makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them


  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 1 large egg white
  3. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons potato starch
  4. 1/4 cup very mild olive oil **
  5. 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  8. 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted


  1. Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with a non-stick mat (e.g. a Silpat) or parchment paper.
  3. Combine in medium bowl all ingredients except sliced almonds; whisk until smooth.
  4. Spoon batter, ~1 teaspoon per cookie, onto baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between cookies--six per sheet works well. Using a small offset spatula (or the back of a spoon), spread batter into a very thin round, ideally no more than 2 mm thick. Sprinkle each round with a few toasted almonds.
  5. Bake until cookies are pale golden, 7 to 9 minutes total. Working quickly but carefully, use a thin spatula to lift hot cookies off of sheet and drape over a rolling pin or (empty) wine bottle. Press gently to get the cookies to curl. When baking sheet has cooled, proceed with the rest of the batter in the same manner.


  1. If cookies crispen before you can curl them, return baking sheet to oven for 1 minute.
  2. Can be made 2 days ahead. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

* When I say "keeping kosher," I only refer to eating kosher-for-passover food. It's quite beyond my means to acquire a whole separate set of dishes and cookware, and anyway, the point of the challenge is the food.

** You could use another, more neutral tasting oil, but depending on which one you use, it might not be kosher.