Every year in the weeks leading up to Passover, I start to feel a little flutter in my stomach. It makes sense. With seder menus to plan, loads of groceries to buy, a kitchen to scour and turn inside out, and hours of cooking ahead, Passover’s to-do list is simply overwhelming. And this year, I have an extra item to add to my Passover anxiety checklist: the price of eggs.
As anyone who has been grocery shopping in recent months has surely noticed, eggs are wildly expensive right now. Thanks to a combination of avian flu outbreaks amongst egg-laying chickens (which led to a decrease in overall egg production), ongoing supply chain shortages, and general inflation woes, egg prices have risen 70% over the last year. I tend to buy cage-free, organic eggs whenever possible, so I am already used to paying a premium for gorgeous, sunset-colored yolks. And yet I still did a double take when a dozen eggs at my local grocery store was accompanied by a $9.99 price tag. I decided to skip the eggs that week.
But here’s the question at the source of my anxiety: Can I really skip eggs for the entire week of Passover? Like many Ashkenazi American Jews that do not eat kitniyot (I’m not super religious, but old habits die hard!), eggs factor heavily into my Passover menus. Without them, the potato kugel, vegetarian chopped liver and matzah balls served at my family’s seder would simply fall apart. In the middle of the week, when my body is crying out for something other than plain matzah (again) topped with almond butter and bananas (again), eggs offer welcome variety in the form of hearty frittatas, shakshuka and the binder for matzah meal pancakes.
And then there is dessert. With glutinous wheat flour off the table, eggs — and especially stiffly beaten egg whites — provide necessary structure and lift to countless Passover sponge and chiffon cakes, airy nut tortes, flourless cookies and creamy custards. My favorite coconut macaroon recipe calls for egg whites, as do my mother’s crunchy-sweet cocoa meringues. Without even realizing it, I can easily make my way through 3 or 4 dozen eggs while prepping for Passover meals.
The markets have shown some signs of reprieve over the last few weeks as egg prices have begun to dip, but they are still nowhere near back to pre-inflation prices. That means, when I’m loading up my grocery cart with yet another dozen eggs, I’m going to feel it. So while I am not ready to give up eggs completely this Passover, I am definitely planning to scale back — especially on the dessert table.
When life brings me added stress, I tend to jump to planning overdrive. I find that well-organized lists help to tame the anxiety beast and break impossible-feeling scenarios into manageable pieces. So while planning my Passover menu this year, I’ve been searching cookbooks (my own and many others) and the internet for a list of tempting, egg-free confections. It turns out, with a little creativity and a willingness to try something new, Passover can be sweet — even without the eggs. Here are seven egg-free Passover desserts I’m looking forward to making this year:
This simple, but super elegant dessert comes from my book “Little Book of Jewish Sweets.” The pears are infused with red wine, maple syrup, cinnamon and cloves, and come out of the poaching liquid a gorgeous rosy color. I like to serve them with a little whipped cream (but you can leave it off to go dairy free) and some shaved chocolate curls.
This ruby-colored granita combines fresh strawberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice into an icy, refreshing Passover dessert.
Fortunately for all of us, Marcy Goldman’s classic (and notoriously addictive) matzah toffee recipe is completely egg free. I always make a double batch for Passover because it doesn’t last long in my house!
For a more grown-up granita, turn to this coffee-based version, which includes a double dose of caffeine from brewed coffee and coffee liqueur.
Most flourless chocolate cakes are filled with eggs, but this fudgy take on the classic includes a secret ingredient (Psst, it’s pumpkin puree! And it’s delicious!)
I make these date, cocoa powder and cashew-based chocolate balls year round to serve as a nourishing and delicious snack or dessert. On Passover, I roll them in a little extra cocoa powder for a more elegant presentation.
This chocolate and coconut pudding is creamy, dreamy and completely egg free. If you avoid kitniyot on Passover, you can sub an equal amount of potato starch for the cornstarch.