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Passover Chocolate Torte With Strawberries

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After sundown on Monday, April 14, Jews around the world will begin celebrating Passover, the Festival of Freedom. This eight-day holiday celebrates the Israelites exodus from Egypt in approximately 1225 BCE. Modern Jews remember the Exodus by having a Seder in their homes on one or two nights and eating special foods.

chocolate torte

Jewish families who are descendants of Eastern European Jewry will follow Ashkenazic traditions while Jewish families who originated from Mediterranean countries will cook and bake according to Sephardic customs. During this holiday, observant Jews will refrain from eating foods that are made of grain and water and have been allowed to ferment and rise. Yeast and baking soda as well as specific grains are not permitted.  Thus common foods such as bread, cereal, cookies, cakes, and pizza are prohibited. Instead of using routine ingredients, flour made out of matzah and potato starch are substituted. Many traditional recipes call for large quantities of eggs to create lighter baked goods.

I find this a wonderful time to become creative. I have experimented with my favorite recipes by using different ingredients. Other times, I gladly follow recipes in Jewish cookbooks or on the Internet. Sometimes I am able to use year-round recipes because they do not include any of the prohibited foods.

The following is a modified recipe that originally appeared in Portal to Good Cooking Volume IV (Women’s American ORT, 1980). This personally revised recipe is one of my family’s favorite Passover desserts. I have made it for decades.

Passover Chocolate Torte With Strawberries

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1/8-teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sifted powder sugar (Powder sugar is made with corn starch- a prohibited Ashkenazic product) I substitute 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon of potato starch.
  • 1/3 cup sifted cocoa

Filling

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1-tablespoon sugar
  • 1-teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla extract is made with alcohol- a fermented product) Observant Jews will use a Kosher for Passover version.

Garnish

  • 2 cups of strawberries or other berries
  • melted chocolate

Directions for the Cake

  1. Beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form and then set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks until they are thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar, beating until dissolved.
  3. Stir in cocoa and vanilla.
  4. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  5. Grease a 15 ½ X 10 ½ X 1 baking pan. Line with wax or parchment paper. Grease paper. If the paper is not sufficiently greased the cake will stick to the paper.
  6. Add the batter and spread evenly.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Invert onto a paper towel that has been sprinkled with the powdered sugar substitute.
  8. Carefully peel off the paper.
  9. Cool cake. Cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces.

Filling

  • Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla until it is spreadable.

Finishing Touches

  1. On an oblong or rectangular serving dish, place one of the pieces of cake.
  2. Spread a layer of whipped cream. Repeat until the final layer of cake has been stacked.
  3. Wash and cut the strawberries. Place around the perimeter of the cake.
  4. Dust the top of the cake with the modified powder sugar or drizzle a small layer of melted chocolate.

What are your favorite Passover recipes?

Featured image from Wikimedia.org

Sandra Bornstein is the author of the award-winning memoir, May This be the Best Year of Your life. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Her blog includes interviews with authors, book reviews of children’s books as well as articles about living abroad, and family life. She is currently reviewing picture books for Passover.

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Sandra Bornstein is the author of the award-winning memoir, May This be the Best Year of Your life. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra holds two master’s degrees- one in Education from the University of Colorado and another in Jewish Studies from Spertus College. Her blog includes interviews with authors, book reviews of children’s books as well as articles about living abroad, and family life.

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