Some 20 years ago my husband bought me my first cookbook. Pretty, its glossy pages splashed with colorful, enticing photos made me want to head straight to the kitchen (I think that's what he hoped for!). Little did my dear husband know that 20 years later he would be complaining about my "collection" of cookbooks and their overflow onto shelves around the house.
Hence, when one more cookbook arrived on my doorstep our reactions were quite different. While my eyes lit up (as did Liv's) at the hefty, picture filled volume in my hands, his eyes squinted and asked, "So where are we going to put that one??"
Paula Shoyer's, The Kosher Baker, is one of those pretty books with beautiful photography throughout, and recipes covering baking from cookies to cakes to pastries to breads. Receiving an offer to review the book, my first thought was, "Well, I'm not Jewish, so a Kosher Cookbook?"
The book, however, brings some "160 dairy-free desserts suitable for every occasion and holiday". While the holiday restrictions don't apply to me or my family, my lactose intolerant son's dietary restrictions do, and a book of dairy free desserts and baked goods has earned its place on my space-limited shelf.
Becoming lactose intolerant suddenly at the age of 14, my son has improved his eating habits, but dearly misses some of his favorites... pizza, ice cream, anything baked with butter, and many breads which often include dairy. Ms. Shoyer's book covers much of the baked portion of his reminiscings, and we set to pick which recipe we would make first.
Leaving him with a few scraps of paper, I asked him to mark the pages of recipes he would like. First on his list was the Challah, a bread similar to one we used to have every so often and that he loved. Ours, as with some Challah, is made with decent amounts of butter and milk, and has not made an appearance on our table for a few years due to his restrictions. Ms. Shoyer's dairy-free recipe has been saved and a version will most likely grace our Thanksgiving table this year.
In the mean time, we settled (with a little urging from me) on a beautiful Almond Tuille recipe featuring a thin, crispy cookie, flecked with sliced almonds and enhanced with orange peel. Tasting something similar on our trip to Italy last year, I agreed to give the cookie a try.
Listed in the "multiple-step" section of the book, the recipe is a bit labor intensive but worth every effort. Spreading the chilled batter into very thin rounds is key to making an evenly browned crisp, however I've discovered that an evenly heating oven might be key as well. For the last year I've struggled with my slowly failing oven, and this recipe proved difficult with my old somewhat-faithful.
Our cookies browned nicely on the outer edges while the middles didn't brown evenly no matter how thinly I spread them. I fully blame the oven and it's lack of heating, but it may, perhaps, have been combined with operator error. Watching the cookies closely is also key, as these little guys will go from a beautiful golden brown to a not so beautiful burnt in the blink of an eye.
Once baked, the cookies are removed immediately from the baking sheet and shaped into whatever shape the baker prefers, little bowls when pushed into mini muffin tins, cigarette style when wrapped around the handle of a wooden spoon, or simply flat and round when left as is.
Working fast, as the cookies crisp as they cool, the cookies are shaped as desired, and once they are cool have a crisp crunch bringing a delightful dose of orange flavor. Somewhat addicting, Liv enhanced ours with a few squiggles of dark chocolate (I can only imagine how good that would have been enhanced with at touch of my beloved Grand Marnier!), and our batch disappeared in a little less than a day.
Not being familiar with kosher ingredients however, a bit of research was required to find and learn about the parve substitutes recommended. The book calls for "parve margarine" frequently, and I'm still not exactly certain what that is, but as Earth Balance butter substitute has been a staple in our house for years it became our butter substitute of choice. Dairy-free substitutions also include parve cream cheese, parve chocolate, soy milk and parve whipping cream.
Ms. Shoyer's book covers classics as well as specialty desserts, all the while remaining dairy free, and we have a number of pages turned down for future reference. Currently, though, the book is on its way to a friend and Kosher Baker, Jocelyn, and I'm eager to hear her review of the book as she enters the holiday season.
A beautiful gift for anyone looking for Kosher and/or dairy-free recipes, if your baker loves beautiful cookbooks like I do, you won't see her for a few hours after she receives The Kosher Baker.
The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy (HBI Series on Jewish Women), page 144
From the Author: These are thin, very crispy, curved cookies. Whenever I teach them in a class, my students complain that it takes too much effort to spread the batter on the cookie sheets. Once they taste the first batch, they are sold on them, decide they are definitely worth the trouble, and want to bake as many as possible. Once the cookies are baked, they can be shaped into bowls, tacos or cannolis, and filled with any mousse or cream.
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 Tbs parve margarine (we used Earth Balance butter substitute)
1 tsp orange zest
2/3 cup slice almonds, with our without skins **
other options: pine nuts or pistachios, or lemon or lime zest
1 In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar and flour. Heat the margarine in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until melted. Add to the bowl with the egg mixture and whisk. Add the zest and whisk until it is mixed in. Add almonds and mix gently with a silicone spatula, trying not to break the nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
2. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Use a Teflon baking sheet or grease and flour a regular cookie sheet (we use cooking spray only). Drop teaspoons of batter onto the sheet, 3 to 4 inches apart. Do not spread the batter for more than 10 cookies (Liv Life recommends 5) at a time on the cookie sheet; you need to bake in batches so you only have to shape a few at a time. If you bake too many at a time, some cookies will get too hard and get stuck to the cookie sheet after baking because you will not be able to remove them from the sheets quickly enough. With a fork dipped in water, flatten the batter, spreading gently and separating the nut slices until the circles are about 3 inches round. This takes time, and the more patient you are, the thinner and crispier your cookies become.
3. Bake for 7-8 minutes (ours cooked much faster) or until the edges are brown that the center is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cookies sit about 15 seconds. Use a flat-blade metal spatula or other metal spatula to scrape up each cookie and place it into a curved mold or around a rolling pin for a "taco" shape. (We rolled ours around the handle of a wooden spoon for rolled shapes). Let cool.
To make these tuilles for Passover, simply substitute cake meal for the flour.
**Liv Life Note: For the slices almonds we had a bag of Trader Joe's Honey Roasted Sliced Almonds on hand and I think I have found a new love!! Sweet and positively addicting, they worked beautifully in the recipe and also were good out of hand.
In addition, I found my cooking time to be less than recommended, check often...
Liv Life received a complimentary copy of The Kosher Baker for review, however all thoughts and reviews are my own.