Passover celebrates the ancient story of the Jewish exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt, which they escaped with the help of 10 plagues sent through divine intervention. For Jews celebrating Passover this year though, everything is different. Sheltering at home means friends and families aren’t able to come together as they typically would. The role of plagues in the Passover story takes on new significance this year too. “The plagues are a central part of the Seder experience,” Rabbi Elana Friedman, the chaplain of Jewish life at Duke University, told CNN. “This year it feels like we have an 11th plague circling us.”
And yet, life goes on and Jews around the world will still do their best to honor their traditions. During this holiday, like most others, Jewish people celebrate with food. But, during Passover, there’s a twist—for those eight days it’s forbidden to eat leavened food (chametz). Jewish tradition states that in their haste to leave Egypt, Jews didn’t have time for wait for their bread to rise. For a modern Jew, that means no bagels, no noodle kugels, no cakes.
The good news is, at Passover, it’s not about what you can’t do, or what you can’t eat, it’s about enjoying what you can. A fitting sentiment as we shelter in place and our collective panic baking has led to a national flour shortage. It turns out, mercifully, that it’s not the flour or the rise that makes desserts delicious. It’s the process that goes into creating something delicious with the people you love—plus the help of a little sugar, of course. Here are three recipes, brownies, an apple cake and meringue cookies, that are so good you won’t miss the flour—that you may or may not have been able to find anyway.
Makes 16 brownies
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup Passover cake meal
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter or spray an 8” x 8” cake pan.
2. Melt semi-sweet chocolate and butter—either in microwave in intervals or in a small pan over low heat—and let cool.
3. In a small bowl, combine cocoa and cake meal; set aside. Blend eggs and sugar in bowl of mixer for about 5 minutes. Add sour cream and chocolate/butter and cocoa/cake meal mixtures to mixer with eggs then combine thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Pour into pan. Bake 30-35 minutes.
Tip: Try using different kinds of chocolate chips for varied flavors like white chocolate, butterscotch or cinnamon chips. Dust with powered sugar for a pretty finishing touch.
Festive Meringue Cookies
Makes 16 cookies
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips plus more for top
- (Other mix-ins to try instead of chips: fruit jam or jelly, gluten-free rice krispies, sprinkles, finely chopped nuts)
1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Beat egg whites for 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and beat for 90 seconds. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar slowly and beat for 60 seconds. Add vanilla and mix on low speed. Sprinkle in rest of sugar and mix.
3. Gently fold in chocolate chips or other additions.
4. Scoop eight meringuess onto prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining batter and cookie sheet. Place into preheated oven.
5. Bake 30 minutes then turn oven off and leave meringues in oven to cool for another 30 minutes. Enjoy.
Tip: Hollow top of meringue into a small “bowl” with the back of a spoon before baking to create a spot for guests to add fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries.
Gigi’s Passover Apple Cake
Makes 12 servings
- Vegetable oil to grease pan
- 4 cups sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 pounds of golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 4 eggs
- Juice of one orange
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups cake meal
- 3 tablespoons butter
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x13” pan.
2. Mix 1 cup of sugar with cinnamon. Add lemon juice to apples with and mix in half of the cinnamon and sugar mix.
3. Beat eggs. Add remaining sugar, orange juice, salt and oil. Add cake meal slowly and mix.
4. Pour half of the dough into pan; layer apples on top, then remaining batter. Dot top with butter then sprinkle remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.
5. Bake 1 hour. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.
Coronavirus and Passover
The coronavirus has impacted Passover plans for Jews across the country. Chabad.org has assembled a number of resources and answers to frequently asked questions about how to celebrate Passover during the coronavirus outbreak.
If you’re celebrating at home with kids, check out these 12 creative ideas for a kid-friendly passover seder.