Passover Recipes

Passover is coming up soon, so if you’re looking for some tried and true Passover dessert recipes here are some of our seder attendees’ faves: Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

If you have a Passover recipe that you think I should try, please share!


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ChallahChallah is an egg bread traditionally eaten on shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) that is similar in texture and taste to brioche, but is made without milk or butter. For shabbat, challah is usually braided using three or six strands, and on Rosh Hashana, it’s usually twisted in a circular shape (to symbolize the cycle of a year, as Rosh Hashana is the Jewish new year). And often times the bread is sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds.

As a kid, I ate my sandwiches on challah or challah rolls. And my mom always used it when she would make us french toast. Seriously, challah makes for the most incredible french toast! But the best way to eat a challah? The way my family does it now–rip into it and tear out the insides, leaving a shell of the crust. Mmm.

This recipe, while time consuming, was pretty simple and oh so good! (In fact, I’m going to make a few loaves for Rosh Hashana later this month.) The bread is soft and chewy with a nice crust and the dough was easy to work with. There’s a lot of sitting and waiting, so it’s best to do it when you have stuff you can complete in spurts while waiting for the dough to rise.

Finally, I halved the recipe (because I was trying out different recipes) but this is so good you should make the full recipe and freeze one loaf.

Photos of the process here.

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil, more for greasing bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.
  2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading.)
  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
  4. (I tried this but got entirely too confused and just braided it with three strands, the same way you braid hair.) To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
  5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.
  6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Then dip your index finger in the egg wash, then into poppy or sesame seeds and then onto a mound of bread. Continue until bread is decorated with seeds.
  7. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.

Yield: 2 challahs.

Joan Nathan recipe from The New York Times.

Aunt Helen’s Mandelbrot

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Use a wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease were the words of advice I received from Aunt Helen when she heard I was going to make her mandelbrot recipe. Do not use a Aunt Helen's Mandelbrot (Mandel Bread)mixer, she reminded me. So with wooden spoon and mixing bowl at the ready, I made mandelbrot. However, before I give you the recipe, here are two important bits of history:

1. My grandma Freda (my mom’s mom) died before I was born and I am named after her. (In Judaism, you name babies after people who are deceased, as a way of keeping their memory alive.) Anyway, my grandma’s sister, Helen, was very close to my mom, and consequently, was like a grandmother to my sister and me. We’d celebrate holidays together, and every year on our birthdays, Aunt Helen would give us a batch of her homemade mandelbrot (with nuts for my parents, with chocolate chips for my sister and me). When I was 11, we moved out to California and Aunt Helen continued to bake the mandelbrot, shipping it to us across the country. Sure, there were a lot of crumbs, but it was always still delicious. To this day, Aunt Helen still mails us mandelbrot on our birthdays.

Of course, this recipe was passed down to my mom, and now, to me. The only difference between their batches and mine is theirs have a lot more burned pieces, although I do believe that’s by choice.

2. Mandelbrot (aka mandelbrodt or mandel bread) is a twice baked cookie made with oil. In Yiddish, mandel means almond (or according to Aunt Helen, nut) and brot means bread. Traditionally, it is made with nuts and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I however, prefer it sans nuts and with chocolate chips. It’s often described as Jewish biscotti but to me, it’s a lot thicker and crumbles quite easily. And there’s no right or wrong time to eat mandelbrot–I’ve been known to have a few pieces for breakfast while other people enjoy dunking it in coffee for dessert.

Photos of the process here.

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips


  1. Mix eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add vanilla and mix.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, and baking together. Add to the egg mixture, alternating with the oil, four times.
  3. Add chocolate chips and mix. Batter will be stiff. (She’s not kidding, it’s stiff!)
  4. Refrigerate overnight, or at least three hours. (Aunt Helen recommended overnight.)
  5. Roll into four logs, approximately 1 1/2″ in diameter.
  6. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, remove from oven, and immediately slice into 1″ pieces. (Both my mom and Aunt Helen said it’s very important to not let the logs cool because they will crack when you slice them.)
  7. Place cookies on their side on cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes more.

Recipe from Aunt Helen.

Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

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Quick note: Tuesdays With Dorie will resume in a couple weeks, once Passover has ended!

It used to be that if I were to show up to a Passover seder without chocolate chips meringues, I would be forced to sing the Four Questions, in Hebrew, by myself. OK not really, but trust me, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. Then a few years ago I brought matzo brittle (in addition to the meringues and other Passover desserts), and that too, became a holiday must-have. Well, this year I do believe I have found a third recipe that will now be included in every Passover seder, thanks to Deb!

Flourless Chocolate Walnut CookiesHmm, I suppose I should have begun this post by explaining that many Passover desserts elicit the following response: It’s good (for a Passover cookie/brownie/cake). Well, I’m happy to report that with these cookies, I heard, These are sooo good! Everyone who tasted them went back for seconds, and said they were oh so yummy! Then again, I guess that’s what happens when you take a regular, flourless recipe and just make it for Passover, go figure.

This cookie is thick, chewy, and slightly crunchy, thanks to the nuts. We made three batches–two with pecans and one with walnuts, and they were all a huge hit. I should note I used regular cocoa powder, not Dutch-process.

Update: For those of you having problems with the cookies being too thin and runny, I noticed this comment from someone in Payard’s test kitchen. The suggestion is to not add all the egg whites at once–begin with two egg whites and check the consistency, it should be brownie batter like, and scoop-able. If it’s still too thick, then add more egg whites.

2 3/4 cups walnut halves
3 cups confectioners’ sugar*
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

*Passover Confectioner’s Sugar
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch

Pulse in a food processor or blender. Makes 1 cup Passover confectioners’ sugar.


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant.
  2. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop them. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).
  4. Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe from New York Magazine via Deb.

Passover Recipes

In case you’re on the lookout for some good Passover dessert recipes (sorry not all of them have pictures), I can help you out:

Also, I’m going to try a recipe for chocolate brownies topped with toffee, then topped with chocolate chips, then sprinkled with almonds, then sprinkled with sea salt. If it’s a success I’ll add it to this list.

Now, to answer questions that I always get: Yes, you can use margarine rather than butter to keep the recipe pareve. Yes, you can make the brownies in advance and freeze them. Yes, you should keep the matzo brittle in the fridge because the chocolate isn’t tempered and it tends to melt a little. And yes, you can use imitation vanilla instead of real vanilla.

Stayed tuned for a cookbook giveaway in the next couple of weeks!

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