Eat Dessert First

Pesach is no time to be skimping on dessert. As a matter of fact, we like to make desserts first because many freeze well.

We may limit ourselves to certain traditional ingredients, but there’s no need to throw up your hands in despair and cry “there’s nothing to eat!” A bit of creativity and baking expertise can help you turn out tasty desserts for every meal.

Pesach Carrot Cake

This recipe contains no potato starch; a rarity for Pesach cakes!

  • 7 large eggs, divided
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and grated, about 2 1/2 cups grated
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground skinned hazelnuts (filberts) or almond flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10-inch springform pan with bit of oil.

Separate 5 of the eggs. Set aside the whites. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 5 eggs yolks with the 2 remaining whole eggs. Add 1 cup of the sugar, the cinnamon, salt, vanilla and lemon juice and mix until combined. Stir in the carrots and ground nuts.

In a clean bowl and using a clean beater, beat the 5 egg whites to soft peaks. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the carrot batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before removing from the pan.

Almond Pear Cakes

This recipe is very elegant and will impress all your guests. They’re tasty, pretty and simple to prepare.

For the poached pears:

  • 1 750 ml bottle dry white wine, such as Chablis
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cut in half
  • 6 firm but ripe medium Bartlett pears

For the cakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • ¾ cup cottonseed or walnut oil, plus 2 teaspoons for greasing ramekins
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder (optional)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • 6 egg whites

Poach the pears:

Peel pears, leaving stems intact, then remove core from the bottom using a melon-balling tool.

Combine wine, sugar, lemon and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add whole pears; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered until pears are tender, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a dish. Trim the base of each pear so that it is flat and can stand upright. Continue to boil poaching liquid, uncovered, until reduced to a syrup, about 10 minutes longer. Reserve syrup.

Prepare the cakes:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease six 8 ounce ramekins with oil.

Pulse almonds with sugar, potato starch and baking powder in a food processor until almonds are finely ground and then transfer to a bowl. Whisk in oil and honey. Stir until mixture starts to clump together. Add egg whites; whisk until well blended.

Divide batter among ramekins (about a slightly rounded 1/2 cup per ramekin), then gently nestle a pear in the center, pressing it very lightly into the batter. (Cakes will rise around pears as they bake.)

Bake until cakes are just firm and pale golden with slightly darker edges, about 25 minutes.

Transfer ramekins to a rack and cool 10 minutes. Brush pears with reserved syrup and serve warm.

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.