Book Reviews by Norene Gilletz  
Creative kosher baking – so where’s the milk?

Book Review by Norene Gilletz
[first appeared on www.cjnews.com, Friday, 21 January 2011]

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If you’re always searching for delicious pareve recipes, your search is over. The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-Free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy by Paula Shoyer (Brandeis University Press) contains a huge selection of amazing pareve recipes for every day or any special occasion.

The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-Free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy

by Paula Shoyer

(Brandeis University Press) 

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from Amazon.com

Before long, the pages of your copy of The Kosher Baker will be batter-splattered, and chocolate-imprinted fingerprints will point the pathway to your favourite recipes!

Paula Shoyer was the editor of the popular Susie Fishbein cookbooks Kosher by Design Entertains and Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen. Shoyer teaches classes in French pastry and Jewish cooking both in the Washington, D.C. area where she lives and throughout the United States. She received her pastry diploma from the Ritz Escoffier École de Gastronomie Française in Paris in 1996.

Shoyer strongly believes that kosher cooks need and deserve more creative, innovative pareve dessert recipes. “I wrote The Kosher Baker as my gift to the Jewish community that has suffered long enough with tasteless, pareve desserts. At every simchah I go to, I see the same desserts I ate 40 years ago. Kosher food is getting more elegant and contemporary; it was time for pareve desserts to catch up. I am trying to start a kosher baking revolution!”

Shoyer continues: “The Kosher Baker is organized by time and degree of difficulty, so there is something for every kind of baker. And there is something for everyone in the Jewish community, including sugar-free, nut-free, gluten-free and vegan dessert recipes in the book as well.”

In addition to a huge array of recipes packed with fabulous flavour and great taste, you’ll find tips on storage, freezing and thawing, a list of must-have ingredients, plus terrific tips and techniques. There are beautiful colour photographs, too! The busy home baker can choose sweet treats based on both taste and time constraints, from everyday treats to innovative desserts. Shoyer divided the book into four parts: desserts with 15 minutes of preparation time, two-step desserts, multiple-step desserts and breads, and Passover and other special diets. Recipes include Sesame Cookies, Salted Chocolate Caramel Tartlets, Crème Brulee, Dark Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake, Harvest Challah, Chocolate Babka and Low-Sugar Apple Pear Pie. Passover desserts include Mocha Matzoh Napoleon, Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Biscotti and Strawberry Shortcake. She’s even included a recipe for pareve Key Lime Pie – it’s the first time I’ve seen one!

People often tell Shoyer that she doesn’t look as though she eats desserts. Well, she does, but only when they are worth the calories! She believes desserts should be so tasty that you are satisfied with one piece. Her favourite ingredients are chocolate, coffee and raspberries.

Shoyer also loves to teach children how to cook and bake. She starts them with chocolate cake and cookies and then moves them into savoury foods. She gives children cooking projects where they can be creative, such as homemade pizza where they can decide which toppings they like, or scones, where they can decide on the mix-ins.

Do you really need another cookbook? Absolutely! No Jewish kitchen should be without The Kosher Baker. For more information, visit www.paulaspastry.com.

BROWNIE POPS

pareve margarine, for greasing pan
16 oz. pareve semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, divided
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pareve plain soy milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup pareve unsweetened cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely ground nuts of your choice, shredded coconut, sprinkles or coloured sugar, for sprinkling on brownies
48 lollipop sticks

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing some to extend up and over the sides. Grease the bottom and sides with some margarine.

Break 6 ounces of the chocolate into small pieces and melt either on the stovetop or in the microwave.

When the chocolate is melted, add the oil and sugar and whisk well. Add the soy milk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk again. Add the salt, baking powder, and cocoa and whisk again. Finally, add the flour and mix well with a silicone spatula. Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top looks dry. Let cool for a half hour and then place in the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour.

Melt the remaining 10 ounces of chocolate. Remove the brownie from the freezer and peel off the foil. Place on a cutting board. Trim off the sides to make them even. (Feel free to eat the trimmings.) Cut the brownie into 1-1/2-inch strips and then into small squares. You can also cut 2-inch squares and then each square into two triangles.

Place a lollipop stick in the bottom of each shape and dip into the melted chocolate, covering all sides and the bottom of the shape around the stick. Hold the brownie over the bowl to drip off the excess chocolate. Sprinkle finely ground almonds, pistachio or other nuts, shredded coconut, sprinkles, or coloued sugar on the wet chocolate. Place the sticks standing up into a cup to set. Serve on a platter on their sides or stand them up in a cup, bowl or small vase filled with sugar. Makes 48 1-1/2-inch square pops.

Store standing in cups, flat on waxed paper, or place in a large airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

*****

KEY LIME PIE

Crust
4 tbsp. pareve margarine
2 cups ground walnuts (from 4 cups walnut halves)
3 tbsp. light brown sugar

Lime Filling
5 large eggs plus 3 yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
7 limes or 14 key limes
1/2 cup (1 stick) parve margarine
1 drop green food colouring (optional)

Meringue Topping
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350F. You will need an 8- or 9-inch pie pan.

To make the crust: place the margarine in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat for 45 seconds, or until melted. Add the walnuts and brown sugar and mix until combined. Place this mixture into the pie pan and press to cover the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.

To make the lime cream: 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. Juice 4 of the limes or 8 key limes (about 1/2 cup juice) and stir into the egg and sugar mixture. Cook uncovered over simmering water for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a thick mixture is formed. Be patient and do not stir too much. If the water in the double boiler boils too fast, turn down the heat. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the margarine in small pieces until the cream is smooth. Add the green food colouring, if using, and stir.

Pour the cream into the prepared crust and smooth. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the outside edges of the cream are set (the inside can remain a little wobbly). Let cool and then place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

To make the meringue topping: 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). You can dip a pastry brush in water and wipe down the sides of the pot if any sugar crystals appear on the sides.

While the sugar is cooking, in 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.

Use a silicone spatula to spread the meringue all over the top of the pie. You can use a blow torch to lightly brown the top or place it in a 450-degree oven for a few minutes, watching the entire time, until the top browns. Serves 8.

Storage: Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.

*****

NO SUGAR ADDED CINNAMON PECAN BABKA

Dough
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 oz. (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar substitute
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) parve margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg plus 1 white (reserve yolk in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for glazing)
spray oil, for greasing pan

Filling
1 cup granulated sugar substitute
1 cup (2 sticks) pareve margarine, at room temperature
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon, divided
6 tbsp. chopped pecans, divided
1/2 cup raisins, chopped into small pieces, divided

To make the dough: Place the warm water and yeast in a large bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Add the sugar substitute, flour, margarine, egg and egg white. Combine using a dough hook in a stand mixer or mix by hand until the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 12-inch loaf pan with spray oil.

To make the filling: In a bowl, beat together the sugar substitute, margarine and 5 teaspoons of the cinnamon with a hand-held or stand electric mixer on medium-high speed.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a 10x7-inch rectangle. Spread 1/2 of the filling on the dough and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the chopped pecans and 1/4 cup of the raisins. Starting with a long side, roll the dough up to create a long roll. Set aside and repeat with the other half of the dough.

 When you have two rolls, twist them together, keeping the seam on the bottom. Tuck the ends under and place in the prepared loaf plan.

 To the reserved egg yolk, add the tablespoon of water and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and mix. Brush the egg white on top of the loaf. Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned. Cool for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the side and remove from pan. Makes 1 loaf, 12 servings

Storage: Store wrapped in foil at room temperature. If you will not eat it within 24 hours, freeze it for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours before serving.

Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author and culinary consultant. For more information, visit her website at  www.gourmania.com or call 416-226-2466.

E-mail Norene

All images and recipes © Norene Gilletz 2011 unless otherwise noted.
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