Pascale's Kitchen: Some of my favorite cakes and cookies

With the world in unchartered territory and changing so quickly, it’s comforting to know that some foods stay deliciously the same.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
With the world in unchartered territory and changing so quickly, it’s comforting to know that some foods stay deliciously the same.
Moreover, now that some of my children have flown the coop, most of my cooking and baking efforts are focused on the weekends, when we all gather together around the table. At the beginning of the week, I begin musing about what food I’d like to prepare for Shabbat. I also start preparing for my photo shoots of new dishes that will appear in my weekly column. I use the beginning of the week for trying out new recipes and experimentation. 
 
For Shabbat, however, I only prepare dishes that I know my kids love and look forward to eating together with the family. I must admit, though, that I sometimes sneak in something new to check out their reaction – especially when it comes to desserts. I’ve tried just about every type of cake possible: cream-filled, chocolate ganache, peanut butter, caramel – the list goes on and on. And yet, they always seem to prefer a simple, basic chocolate cake.
 
Whenever I get a message from one of my boys that he is on his way home from the army base, I immediately begin gathering all the ingredients on the counter so I can prepare his favorite cake. This chocolate cake comes out perfect – especially if it’s made with love!
 
It’s such a pleasure making this cake because it’s so simple and easy. Just add the ingredients, mix and pour into a pan. 
Another favorite in my home is chocolate chip cookies with chocolate candies. You can use spelt flour if you prefer them to be healthier, and oil in place of butter to make them pareve. 
 
One of my all-time favorite desserts is apple strudel. It’s crucial that the dough be stretched super thin. If I’m in a hurry, sometimes I’ll use frozen filo dough sheets instead. 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Use an 8-cm. diameter pan for 25-30 cookies, or a 5-cm. diameter pan for 50 cookies.
125 g. softened butter (or margarine for pareve)
¼ cup white or golden sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups flour, sifted
1 package instant vanilla pudding
½ tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
½ cup white or brown chocolate chips, plus ¾ cup M&M’s or small colorful chocolate candies
Topping:
¾ cup M&M’s or small colorful chocolate candies
Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix. Gradually add the sugar while mixing. Add the vanilla and egg and mix well. 
 
Lower the speed and gradually and intermittently add the flour, pudding, baking soda and salt. Mix until smooth. 
 
Add the chocolate chips and candies. Mix by hand until all pieces are mixed in well. Put in the fridge for 2 hours.
 
Line a pan with baking paper. Make small balls with the dough and place on the pan with plenty of space between each one, since cookies will expand during baking. Flatten the balls lightly and push in candies on top. Place in the fridge for another 15 minutes. 
 
In an oven that has been preheated to 180ºC, bake cookies for 12-13 minutes or until they’re lightly browned. Remove from oven. 
Note: The cookies will be soft when taken out of the oven, but will harden as they cool.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 30 minutes.
Status: Dairy or pareve.
Vanilla Chocolate Marble Cake (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)Vanilla Chocolate Marble Cake (Credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA MARBLE CAKE
Use a loaf pan.
200 g. softened butter or margarine
1½ cups sugar
2 packets vanilla sugar
3 eggs
3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
1 container yogurt (or juice or Rich’s pareve cream)
2 Tbsp. milk or water
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. milk or water
Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix at high speed. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla sugar while mixing for 2 or 3 more minutes. Gradually add the eggs. Mix until smooth. 
 
Lower the speed and gradually add a little flour, then a little yogurt, then 2 tablespoons of milk. Continue adding a little more flour and milk while mixing. Pour half of the mixture into the pan. 
 
In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons of milk. Add it to the second half of the mixture and mix well. Pour the dark mixture on top of the light mixture in the pan. Take a spoon or skewer and stick it into the mixture. Then use the skewer to make a figure-8 in the mixture, which will swirl the dark and light parts of the mixture together. 
 
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170ºC or 180ºC for 45-50 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack. 
TiPascale:
If you’d like to make the cake lower in fat, you can use applesauce in place of oil.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 30 minutes.
Status: Dairy.
APPLE STRUDEL
Makes 2 loaves.
Dough:
4 cups flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. soybean oil
¾ or 1 cup water, room temperature (amount depends on absorption in flour)
Oil for greasing the dough
Filling:
3 Tbsp. dark rum (or any kind of rum)
1 cup raisins
2 kg. red apples, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly (or quince that have been softened)
1 cup sugar
2 packets vanilla sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Juice from 2 lemons
For brushing:
125 g. melted butter or margarine
Sprinkling: 
125 g. breadcrumbs or cookie crumbs
Topping:
½ cup powdered sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour. While mixing, add the salt, oil and water. Mix until dough is smooth. Grease the dough with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough sit and rest for 1 hour. 
 
Soak the raisins in a bowl with the rum. In a large bowl, add the sliced apples, sugar, vanilla sugar, drained raisins, cinnamon and lemon juice. Mix well. 
 
Roll out the dough until it’s very thin. Pick it up and stretch it more on the palms of your hands. Place the dough on a cloth and stretch edges again. 
 
Brush on melted butter and then sprinkle the bread or cookie crumbs on 2/3 of the dough. Spread the apple slices on the crumbs and then roll up the dough into a log. 
 
Transfer to a pan that’s lined with baking paper. Brush with melted butter. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200ºC for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 180ºC and bake for another 40 minutes. 
 
Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or with vanilla sauce. 
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 2 hours.
Status: Dairy or Pareve.

Translated by Hannah Hochner. 
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