Pascale's Kitchen: Creamy Passover cakes

Below, you will find one easy recipe for hazelnut and coffee cream cake and a second one, for strawberry mousse, that is much more complicated but completely worth the effort.

Strawberry mousse (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Strawberry mousse
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Passover is just around the corner, which means it’s time to decide which desserts you will be serving this year.

I wanted to bring you, my readers, some entirely new and exciting desserts this Passover, and so I invited Orly Hoffman, who happens to be one of my favorite bloggers, to join me in my kitchen so she could teach me some new techniques. As anyone who follows her online knows, Orly loves baking square cakes that can easily be cut up into little squares.

One of the benefits of using this method is that guests get to see all the beautiful layers of the cake. Another advantage of cutting the cakes into squares is that it makes it much easier to freeze the cake squares, and then take out a few squares at a time, without having to defrost an entire cake.

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Orly joined me recently for a morning of baking in my kitchen, and led me into her world of multiple layers of cream and chocolate and other tasty treats. Originally from Jerusalem, Orly now lives with her husband and children in the Jezreel Valley.

 Hazelnut and coffee cream cake (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Hazelnut and coffee cream cake (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

For many years, Orly ran a private kindergarten, until a few years ago, when she contracted a rare bone disease that made it difficult for her to leave the house. She really missed working with all the sweet children, and to keep herself busy at home, she began experimenting in her kitchen with glaçage (icing) and baking macaroons.

Orly began uploading pictures of her creations to Instagram, and was rewarded with oodles of likes and requests for recipes, which led her to create “Orly Hoffman’s baking blog.”

Below, you will find one easy recipe for hazelnut and coffee cream cake and a second one, for strawberry mousse, that is much more complicated but completely worth the effort.

STRAWBERRY MOUSSE

Use a 25 cm. x 25 cm. pan.

Jello:

  • 4 gr. gelatin + 20 ml. cold water
  • 8 gr. (1½ tsp.) pectin
  • 100 gr. (½ cup) sugar
  • 360 gr. (1½ cup) strawberry paste

Mousse:

  • 4 gr. gelatin + 20 ml. cold water
  • 240 gr. (1 cup) strawberry paste
  • 100 gr. (½ cup) sugar
  • 120 gr. mascarpone cheese
  • 120 ml. sweet cream

Batter:

  • 100 gr. (½ cup) sugar
  • 80 gr. butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 5 gr. (1 tsp.) vanilla extract
  • 5 strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 140 gr. (1 cup) self-rising matzo meal, sifted
  • 1 gr. (1/8 tsp.) baking soda

White chocolate:

  • 5 gr. gelatin + 25 ml. cold water
  • 300 gr. white chocolate
  • 180 ml. (¾ cup) milk
  • 5 gr. (1 tsp.) vanilla extract
  • 400 ml. sweet cream

Chantilly cream:

  • 250 ml. sweet cream
  • 20 gr. (2 Tbsp.) instant vanilla pudding

To prepare the jello, mix the gelatin with the water. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then place in the microwave for 30 seconds.

In a small bowl, mix the pectin with the sugar. Heat the strawberry paste in a pot until it reaches 40°. Add the pectin and sugar mixture and mix until dissolved. Take the pot off the flame and stir in the jello. Pour into a mold and flatten. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

Once the jello layer has frozen, start preparing the mousse. Add the water to the gelatin and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Add the strawberry paste and sugar to a pot. Heat over a low flame and stir until dissolved (do not let it boil). Remove from the flame and stir in the mascarpone cheese. Mix well. Add the jello and mix.

Add the sweet cream to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until it becomes the consistency of yogurt. Fold in the strawberry jello mixture, just mixing until smooth.

Spread the mousse on top of the frozen jello, then return to freezer for at least 1 more hour. Release the frozen jello from the mold and place on a tray covered with baking paper. Return to the freezer.

To prepare the cake batter, add the butter and sugar to a medium bowl and beat quickly by hand until smooth. Beat the egg, then fold into the batter. Add the vanilla and the sliced strawberries. Fold in the flour and the baking soda. Pour the batter into a pan lined with baking paper and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 160° on turbo for 15 minutes, until it turns golden brown. Let cool completely.

To prepare the white chocolate layer, mix the gelatin with the water. Let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperature, then heat it for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the milk and the vanilla and pour over the chocolate. Mix well until smooth. Fold in the jello and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Add the cream to the bowl of an electric mixer and whip the cream until it becomes the texture of yogurt. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Mix well.

To put the strawberry mousse cake together, spread a thin layer of the white chocolate mixture on the baked cake. Take the jello layer out of the freezer and place on the cake with the mousse side face down and the jello side facing up. Spread the white chocolate all over the top of the cake. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for six hours.

To prepare the Chantilly cream, add the cream and instant pudding to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until cream becomes firm.

Spread the Chantilly cream on the cake. Use a serrated cake scraper to create lines in the cream. Remove the cake from the pan and cut into squares. Place a fresh strawberry on each piece.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. If you’ve frozen the cake, let it defrost for 3 hours in the fridge before serving.

Level of difficulty: Difficult.Time: 6 hours + 4 hours in the fridge.Status: Dairy.

HAZELNUT AND COFFEE CREAM CAKE

Use a 25 cm. x 30 cm. pan.

Batter:

  • 4 eggs
  • 150 gr. (¾ cup) sugar
  • 5 gr. (1 tsp.) vanilla extract
  • 150 ml. (¾ cup) oil
  • 180 ml. (¾ cup) sweet whipping cream
  • 45 gr. (½ cup) coconut flakes
  • 150 gr. (1½ cups) pecans or walnuts, ground
  • 125 gr. (1 cup) matzo meal
  • 10 gr. (2 tsp.) baking powder

Cream:

  • 10 gr. (2.5 tsp.) instant coffee
  • 30 ml. (2 Tbsp.) boiling water
  • 250 gr. mascarpone cheese
  • 700 ml. sweet whipping cream
  • 15 gr. (1 Tbsp.) amaretto or Frangelico liqueur
  • 60 gr. (½ cup) powdered sugar
  • 20 gr. (2 Tbsp.) vanilla instant pudding

Chocolate ganache:

  • 100 gr. milk chocolate
  • 100 gr. bittersweet chocolate
  • 120 ml. (½ cup) sweet whipping cream

Topping:

  • Pecans, halved

To prepare the batter, beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, oil and sweet cream. Mix well.

Add the coconut flakes, nuts, matzo meal and baking powder. Gently stir the mixture until smooth.

Pour the batter into a pan that is lined with baking paper and flatten. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 160° for 25-30 minutes. Remove and let cool.

To prepare the cream, add the instant coffee to a glass, add the cup of boiling water and mix. Let the coffee cool.

Add the mascarpone cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix slowly. Gently fold in the cooled coffee. Add the sweet cream, liqueur, powdered sugar, and instant pudding. Mix on medium speed until the cream becomes firm.

Spread the cream evenly on the cake and then place it in the fridge for two hours.

To prepare the chocolate ganache, add the two types of chocolate to a microwave safe bowl. Pour the sweet cream on top and heat in the microwave for a few seconds at a time, mixing in between each time until mixed well. Pour the ganache on top of the cream and flatten. Cover the cake well with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to set.

Cut the cake into squares and place a half pecan on top of each piece.

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 2 hours + 4 hours in fridge.Status: Dairy.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.