Bread pudding is one of my absolute favorite desserts – its easy to make and is one of those great dishes you can whip up with all that leftover bread hanging out in your freezer. I have fond memories of my mother making batches of bread pudding with the “ends” of the bread that my brother and I would never eat.
Now as an adult, I love experimenting with different kinds of breads in my bread pudding, and it should come as no surprise that my favorite kind of bread to use for bread pudding is challah. Challah already has good flavor and soaks up the milk, eggs and sugar really well, just like french toast! I’ve also had amazing croissant bread pudding that was surprisingly light while still being decadent and the most delicious bread pudding I’ve ever had is the white chocolate biscuit bread pudding at Cafe Adelaide in New Orleans.
When I saw Babka bread pudding on the menu at Kutscher’s Tribeca in NYC I knew I had to try to make my own version. Babka is already dense and sweet, so it provides the perfect backdrop for a rich, pareve Shabbat-perfect dessert.
I suggest using a chocolate babka, but of course you could use a cinnamon babka as well, even if Seinfeld might disagree.
1 store-bought chocolate babka
3 cups coconut or almond milk
1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish using cooking spray or vegetable oil.
Cut the babka into half inch cubes and place into baking dish.
Combine coconut or almond milk, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs together. Add eggs to milk mixture.
Pour liquid over babka cubes and let soak in for an hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Serve with pareve ice cream and fresh berries.
Paula Shoyer is the author of The Kosher Baker: 160 dairy-free desserts from traditional to trendy (Brandeis 2010). Paula is a pastry chef who owns and operates the Paula’s Parisian Pastries Cooking School out of Chevy Chase, Maryland. She teaches scheduled and custom-designed classes in French pastry and Jewish cooking in the Washington, D.C. area, and all around the country. Appearances include Food Network’s Sweet Genius, WGN’s Lunchbreak, WUSA9 Washington, San Diego Living, NBC Washington News 4 at 4 and Martha Stewart Morning Living on XM Sirius. Paula believes that everyone deserves a delicious dessert no matter what special diet they are on. She develops dessert recipes that are dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan. Paula’s website is www.paulaspastry.com where you can find both sweet and savory recipes and blogs at www.kosherbaker.blogspot.com where she shares stories of her travels and events and new recipes.
4 ounces shelled whole almonds
4 ounces shelled whole hazelnuts
3 Tablespoons parve margarine
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
5 large eggs plus 3 yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
¼ cup lime zest (about 3 regular limes)
½ cup fresh lime juice (the three zested limes plus 1-2 more limes)
1/2 cup (1 stick) parve margarine
1 drop green food coloring (optional)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 large egg whites
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. To make the crust, cover a jelly roll pan with parchment. Place the almonds in one layer on one side and the hazelnuts in one layer on the other side. Toast for 20 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, but keeping the two nuts separate. Let cool for 10 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Place the three tablespoons of margarine into a covered medium microwave-safe bowl and heat for 45 seconds, or until melted. Add the brown sugar. Place the almonds into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and grind until nuts are in very small pieces, but not powdered. Place into the bowl with the margarine and sugar. Lift up handfuls of the hazelnuts and rub between your hands to remove as much of the skin as possible. Place the nuts into the processor bowl and process into very small pieces. Add to the bowl. Use your fingers to mix until combined. Place this mixture into an 8- or 9-inch pie pan and press to cover the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides. To make a nice rim, use your thumb to press into the sides of the pan, while a finger on your other hand presses down on the top of the rim. Continue all around the pan until you have a little crust rim. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
To make the lime filling, place the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set over a medium saucepan with simmering water (or use a double-boiler). Stir to combine. Add the lime zest and juice and stir into the egg and sugar mixture. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a thick mixture is formed. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the margarine in tablespoons until the cream is smooth. Add the green food coloring, if using, and stir.
Pour the cream into the prepared crust. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until the outside edges of the cream are set. Let cool and then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
To make the meringue, in a small heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 230ºF (use a candy thermometer to check the temperature). While the sugar is cooking, in a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff. When the sugar is ready, turn the mixer speed to low and then slowly pour the cooked sugar into the bowl, down the side of the bowl, not directly onto the wire whisk. When all of the sugar has been poured in, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 1 minute until the meringue is thick and shiny.
You can add the meringue to the pie in several ways. You can use a spoon to dump clumps of meringue on top and spread, or use a pastry bag to pipe out designs of meringue. If desired, use a blowtorch to lightly brown the meringue or place it in a 450ºF oven for a few minutes, watching the entire time, until the top browns. Store in the refrigerator until serving and for up to five days.
Though I am a big supporter of a kosher-for-Passover ice cream maker, I realize that it’s a completely unnecessary expense. So, in the absence of an ice cream maker, you might be left with a dearth of good dessert ideas.
Enter the granita. Originally created in Italy, the granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and flavoring. It requires absolutely no special equipment, and the beautiful thing about this granita is that it can be served as a dessert (perhaps with some fresh berries on the side) or as an intermezzo (or, as I prefer, an intermatzoh) to cleanse the palette between courses at the Seder. It’s your choice…and whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed.
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 lemons (approximately 4 Tablespoons)
Zest from 1 lemon
3 cups strawberries, hulled
1 Tablespoons potato vodka (optional)
Normally simple syrup is made with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, in other words, a 1:1 ratio. However, this recipe cuts down on the sugar.
Prepare the simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes, while continuing to whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, then transfer to a bowl or container, cover, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
While the mixture is cooling, place the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vodka into a blender and mix until smooth.
Pour the cool simple syrup into the strawberry/lemon puree and blend until mixed.
Pour into an 8x8 square glass pan and freeze. After approximately 2 hours, check the granita. Once it has started to freeze run a fork through the entire pan and begin breaking up the ice to make little icicles. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of homemade granita!
If by mistake, you forget about the granita and it freezes solid, run a very sharp knife through frozen mixture from one side of the pan to the other to loosen the ice crystals. Then scrape a fork back and forth to create fine crystals. Scoop into a cup and enjoy!
While this makes a quart of granita, it doesn’t actually serve as many people as a quart of ice cream. Expect to serve four people with this, especially because they’ll definitely come back for seconds!
Serve with fresh strawberries and a lemon wedge to enhance the presentation. Enjoy!
A few months ago, I had the pleasure to, quite literally, sit at the same table with Chef Paula Shoyer during a kosher food bloggers social media dinner. Nope, folks – I can’t even make this stuff up. Paula Shoyer is the author of The Kosher Baker, and most recently was featured as a contestant on the Food Network’s Sweet Genius!
I absolutely fell in love with Paula’s attitude for quality kosher food and expertise in pareve desserts. I had the chance to chat with her recently, and am now even more enamored. Anyone who “dreams of pareve dulce de leche” is a cook after my own heart. My favorite quote from her? “At a minimum, desserts must always be worth the calories or do not bother eating them.” Couldn’t agree more.
What has inspired your passion for baking and waist-friendly kosher cooking?
My grandmother was a fabulous baker and my book is dedicated to her memory. I am always looking for ways to make my desserts healthier. At a minimum, desserts must always be worth the calories or do not bother eating them.
What meal or dessert does your family ask you to make more than anything else? What is your favorite thing to make? Least?
My family loves when we have burritos during the week. I make a black bean chili, rice, guacamole and salad and everyone makes their own. My four kids always want there to be rolls of my double chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer so they can slice and bake when they want. My favorite desserts to make are the fancy French desserts with layers of cakes and creams and glazes, yet my favorite desserts to eat are the simpler ones such as scones. I love my scones. I can’t say there is any food or dessert I don’t like to make.
Which ingredient do you wish you could find kosher?
The ingredients I wish I could find pareve are a healthier pareve whipping cream and dolce de leche. I dream of pareve dolce de leche.
It’s been a crazy week, and you haven’t even given thought about what to make for Shabbat Dinner – what’s your go-to meal?
Beef Barley Soup, Garlic Chicken, rice, string beans with garlic, Orange Tea Cake (cover recipe from The Kosher Baker)
If you could only give one tip to a fellow kosher food enthusiast, what would it be?
Make homemade desserts – they are delicious and significantly healthier than packaged and even bakery desserts.
What’s next for Chef Paula Shoyer: Any more TV appearances? A new cookbook?
I am hoping for more TV appearances around Passover. I do have an idea for a great TV show. The next book is The Passover Baker and I am busy creating recipes people have never seen on Passover before such as black and white cookies.
- Spray oil containing flour or spray oil plus 2
- tablespoons flour for greasing and flouring pan
- ½ cup canola oil
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup spelt flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a Bundt or tube pan.
In a large bowl, beat the oil, sugar and honey with a stand or hand-held electric mixer on medium-high speed until mixed. Add the pumpkin purée and beat again.
Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well. Add the white, wheat and spelt flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Mix all the ingredients together. Use a silicone spatula to scoop the batter into the pan and then smooth the top.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a rack and let cool completely.
Another week, and it’s time for another round of recipe ideas for Shabbat.
As my dear friend and fellow tweeter Aimee Weiss points out, ’tis the season for some spiked apple cider! Why not start out your meal with some hot cider with rum, honey and your favorite spices. You can also make a German favorite called Gluhwein (pronounced gloo-vine), which is a hot mulled wine with oranges, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. I can’t get enough of this stuff!
I’ve been eyeing this recipe for Bucatini with Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts for weeks in this month’s copy of Food and Wine. If you are serving a meat meal, just leave off the parmesan cheese! A perfect hearty and healthful dish for this time of year.
Shabbat Shalom, and happy eating!