For those who believe morning croissants and midday cupcake breaks make life enjoyable, Passover is rough. The weeklong Jewish holiday, which begins the evening of April 14th, bans chametz, or leavened grains, which include wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. While coconut macaroons straight from the Manischewitz can carry nostalgic appeal on the first days, they lose their allure by midweek.
But, thou shalt not give up pastry this year. From chocolate tortes so luscious they could melt Pharaoh's heart to a cadre of cookies, local bakeries have proved it is possible to create delicious, Passover-friendly desserts. Strict observers should note that while all of these items are flourless, they are not certified “kosher for Passover.”
Here’s where to indulge:
Here, you’ll discover the Audrey Hepburn of flourless chocolate cakes ($33) – simple and elegant with tremendous depth. A strip of glossy ganache tops this dense torte which is the same one that's used in the bakery’s Milky Way Bomb. For a slice of spring, there’s a fruit tart ($32, pictured above) comprised of sticky almond cake made from almond paste. It cradles Bavarian cream and a palate of plump organic berries. Crackly, chewy flourless chocolate cookies ($1.50/each) dotted with pecans are always available.
Photo courtesy of Kara's Cupcakes
What’s called a cupcake is actually a potent chocolate souffle cake with a cracked, crunchy crust that conceals a creamy Callebaut chocolate center reminiscent of the ultimate fudge brownie. A pale blue Star of David adorns each one. Kara’s will sell the cakes through April. ($3.25/regular, $2/mini).
These chewy almond cookies freckled with dark chocolate ($6.95/bag) are dainty enough to serve alongside a cup of tea. Bakeworks hopes to continue serving them beyond the holiday.
Michelle Polzine promises at least twenty layers of buckwheat crepes for her Hungarian-inspired date walnut crepe cake ($65/whole, $6/slice). Slices will be ready starting Tuesday and advance orders can be placed beginning Sunday. She will also have a Meyer lemon cheesecake ($55/whole, $6/slice) that sports a coconut crust and and her fan-favorite Sacher Torte ($65/whole, $6/slice) made with almond flour.
From this all-American bakeshop in the Marina comes an assortment of Passover classics: coconut macaroons ($2.50), caramel and chocolate coated matzo ($3), flourless chocolate cake ($36), and flourless chocolate cupcakes ($3.25). SusieCakes serves the cupcakes year-round topped with vanilla buttercream, but because cornstarch is banned during Passover, they’ve swapped the frosting for plumes of whipped ganache which maximizes the richness of this already devilishly fudgy cake.
Torta del re from Cake. in Lafayette
From the Jewish ghetto in Rome to the tree-lined streets of Lafayette, pastry chef Andrea Quinn presents her version of the Roman Passover cake, torta del re. Ground almonds lend a pebbly texture and sweet fragrance that’s brightened by a bit of lemon. For stellar coconut macaroons, try Quinn's interpretation. Sweetened with apricot jam from Frog Hollow Farm, they boast caramelized exteriors but remain soft and chewy inside. While the torta del re is only sold at the bakery, San Francisco residents can find the macaroons ($1.50/each or $9/package of six) at Mollie Stone’s, Rainbow, and Little Vine as well as online.
At his contemporary Jewish deli in the Financial district, Michael Siegel will sell two types of coconut macaroons, chocolate and green tea chocolate ($2.50/each), as well as apple-cinnamon pâtes de fruits layered with walnuts ($1.50/each). The candy was inspired by the Passover side dish charoset which for Jews of Central/Eastern European descent consists of pulverized walnuts and apples moistened with wine. Both options are part of Siegel’s prix fixe Passover menu and will be sold a la carte at the restaurant depending on availability.
Amy Brown and Joe Wolf are making their own matzo with organic olive oil and Maldon sea salt baked at 500°F until crisp and browned. They’re dipping it in TCHO dark chocolate and finishing with additional sea salt ($8/4 oz). Click to pre-order.