Pascale’s Kitchen: Sweets for Tishrei’s end

Three recipes for delicious desserts that will help us end this challenging Tishrei holiday season with a sweet feeling.

 (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
The time has come to prepare for the last days of the holidays in the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Yet the corona restrictions are still upon us, which require us to refrain from meeting up with family and friends as we would in normal times.
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This week, instead of suggesting recipes for dishes that are traditionally eaten on these holidays, I am offering three recipes for delicious desserts that will help us end this challenging Tishrei holiday season with a sweet feeling.

For this special dessert issue, I met with one of Israel’s leading pastry chefs, Eran Schwartzberger, who generously shared with me a few of his favorite dessert recipes.

The first recipe, for toffee brownies, is one of the most unique I’ve ever tried. I thought it was fitting to share it with you, my readers, this week, since we are all in dire need of something sweet for the soul to give ourselves a boost in these troubling times.

The second recipe, which hails from Moroccan cuisine, is for almond nougat caramel balls. This recipe is particularly challenging, but you will have to admit in the end that it was totally worth the effort. You can add almonds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts – or any combination of the above. What you do is form little dough balls that you fry and then soak in a pot of hot caramel (see the pictures, which help illustrate the process).

The third recipe, which is much simpler, is made with tahini – one of my favorite ingredients to bake with – which is absolutely scrumptious when combined with silan and sweet cream. Even if you’re short on time, you can still manage to put this cake recipe together.


TAHINI SILAN CAKE

Use a 30-cm pan.

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

7 Tbsp. raw tahini

1/3 cup silan

1 container sweet cream

1½ cups flour, sifted

1 tsp. baking powder

Toppings:

½ cup almond slivers

½ cup halva strings

Syrup:

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

1 Tbsp. almond syrup

Whip the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy.

In a small bowl, mix the silan and tahini together until smooth. Pour into the egg mixture and mix well. Stir in the cream.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, then gradually fold into the batter and mix gently.

Pour the batter into a pan. Sprinkle the almonds and halva strings on top and bake for 50 minutes until a toothpick comes out with crumbs. Make sure not to overbake the cake so that it doesn’t get too dry.

To prepare the syrup, cook the water together with the sugar in a small pot, uncovered over a high flame while stirring constantly. Lower the flame and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the flame and add the almond syrup. Let cool.

Pour syrup over the cake while it’s still hot. Let cool for an hour.

Level of difficulty: Easy.

Time: 90 minutes.

Status: Dairy.


TOFFEE BROWNIES WITH ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER

Use a 24-cm. springform pan.

Brownies:

200 gr. butter

175 gr. bittersweet chocolate 60% cacao

135 gr. eggs

175 gr. sugar

2 gr. salt

85 gr. corn flour

Toffee:

90 gr. sugar

15 gr. butter

50 gr. sweet cream 38%

20 gr. honey

Zest from 1 lemon

2-3 drops of orange blossom water

30 gr. pumpkin seeds

35 gr. almonds (unpeeled)

35 gr. walnuts

50 gr. peeled almonds, chopped into sticks

50 gr. roasted pecans

To prepare the brownies, place the butter and chocolate in a pot and melt them over a medium flame.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the eggs and mix on high speed. Add the sugar and salt and mix for 8 minutes.

Fold the chocolate-butter mixture into the eggs and mix well. Fold in the corn flour. Pour the batter into a pan that was lined with baking paper. Flatten. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 175°C for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool.

To prepare the toffee, add the sugar to a pan and heat over a low flame. Mix until it turns into light brown caramel (make sure it doesn’t burn). Remove from the flame. Add the butter and stir. Add the cream and honey. Heat over a medium flame and mix well. Remove from the flame. Add the lemon zest, orange blossom water and the seeds and nuts and mix a little. Pour over the baked brownies.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C. Remove and let cool in the fridge.

It’s very important to flip the whole cake over before cutting, so the toffee part is facing down. Cut into 3-cm. x 3-cm. squares and arrange on a serving platter with the toffee side facing up.

Level of difficulty: Easy.

Time: 50 minutes.

Status: Dairy.


ALMOND NOUGAT CARAMEL BALLS

Makes 35-40 cookies.

Dough:

2 cups flour, sifted

2 Tbsp. oil

2 eggs

¼ cup (50 ml.) water

1 tsp. baking powder

Oil for frying

Caramel:

2½ cups (500 gr.) sugar

2½ tsp. lemon juice

2½ Tbsp. water

Oil for work surface

Place all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough attachment. Mix well. Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients in a large bowl by hand.

Take a bit of dough and roll out strips that are 1-cm. thick. Take a knife and cut 1-cm. long pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls with plenty of space between each one on a baking tray and cover with a towel until you’ve finished forming all of the balls.

Heat enough oil in a pan for deep frying. Fry the balls until they turn golden brown. Remove the balls and place on a strainer or on paper towels.

In a medium pot, add the sugar, lemon juice and water and heat over a low flame. Mix constantly until a light brown caramel forms (make sure not to let it burn). Remove from the flame.

Add the balls to the caramel. Heat over a low flame and stir until all of the balls have been covered with caramel.

Grease your work surface and a rolling pin. Pour the balls and the caramel onto your work surface and then gently flatten with the rolling pin. Try not to break open the balls, just flatten them into a smooth layer. You need to do this quickly before the caramel cools down and hardens.

Using a hot knife, cut into 5-cm. wide strips. Then, cut the strips at an angle so that they are 5-cm. long. You will end up with diamond-shaped cookies. Make sure to cut the cookies before the caramel has completely cooled, otherwise they will break into small pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Level of difficulty: Difficult.

Time: 90 minutes.

Status: Pareve.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.