Dairy-free cookbook makes for easy dessert-making
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Dairy-free cookbook makes for easy dessert-making

In time for High Holy Day gift-giving, pastry chef and teacher Paula Shoyer has published her first cookbook, “The Kosher Baker” (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England), seeking to “breathe fresh life into pareve desserts and breads.” Shoyer is the editor of Susan Fishbein’s cookbooks “Kosher by Design Entertains” and “Kosher By Design Kids in the Kitchen.”

Many recipes contain amusing anecdotes, beginning with one from Shoyer herself, found in the preface. “In the beginning,” she writes, “my mother baked once a year with cake mixes during Passover.” The story continues, with the author explaining how the book came to be. Nearly one-fourth of the recipes can be mixed in one bowl and are ready for the oven in 15 minutes.

The cookbook is beautifully illustrated – with color and black and white photos by Michael Bennett Kress – making it easy to visualize what the dessert will look like.

For those with a diabetic in the family, Shoyer has included no-sugar-added desserts in the “Passover & Other Special Diets” section (see recipe below for Mandelbread – No-Sugar-Added). There are also gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan choices.

Sections are clear and easy to follow, with advice on storing, freezing, thawing, must-have tools and ingredients, and tips and techniques. The book is for the novice or cook-on-the-go, as well as for more serious bakers. Sections range from recipes with 15-minute preparation time (“Quick & Elegant Desserts”); to “Two-Step Desserts,” with 15-30 minutes prep time; to “Multiple-Step Desserts & Breads,” which take more than 30 minutes to prepare.

There is something for everyone, and all 160 plus recipes, “from traditional to trendy,” are dairy-free. Why not get a copy at local Judaica or retail bookstores or from Amazon.com and give it to a friend? You might then ask the recipient to make you a few of its mouth-watering desserts.

No-Sugar-Added Mandelbread

The Kosher Baker

Makes about 30 cookies

This is a helpful recipe to have – particularly if a diabetic is joining you for dinner. The cookies are delicious, though sugar-free. They can also survive a voyage.

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Dash of salt

¾ cup granulated sugar substitute, such as Splenda

1 tsp. sugar-free vanilla syrup

3 large eggs

½ cup canola or vegetable oil

¼ cup orange juice

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup whole, unsalted, cashews, or shelled pistachio nuts (for pistachios, about ¼ pound of nuts in their shells)

1/3 cup dried cranberries (not the sweetened kind)

1/3 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar substitute, vanilla syrup, eggs, oil, and orange juice. Set aside.

3. Place the sliced almonds and cashews or whole pistachio nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for about 45 seconds, or until the nuts are in small pieces but not completely ground. You can also place the nuts in a bag and band with a rolling pin until they are in small pieces. Add to the dough. Place the cranberries and raisins in the food processor and chop into small pieces, about 30 seconds. You can also chop by hand. Add to the dough and mix in.

4. Divide the dough in half and use your hands to shape into 2 loaves, 3 x 8 inches each. Place on prepared cookie sheet about 4 inches apart.

5. Bake for 35 minutes. Slide the parchment off the cookie sheet. Use a sharp knife to slice each loaf into ¾ to 1-inch slices.

6. Place a new piece of parchment on the cookie sheet and place the slices cut-side down on the parchment. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

Storage: Place in an airtight container or freezer bags and store at room temperature for up to five days or freeze up to three months.

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