Today’s recipe combines Ashkenazi favorites of sweet potatoes and prunes with almonds and orange juice to make a batter that can be baked as either cookies or cakes. Topped with an orange juice glaze, they are Pesach desserts that are parve, gluten-free, and have no added fats. They are homey, soft and moist with a taste that reminds me of a sweet vegetarian tsimmes (root vegetable and dried fruit stew).
Whole, raw shelled almonds without additives are automatically kosher for Passover. Look for certification if you use blanched or buy ready-made almond meal. If kosher-for-Passover prunes are not available, substitute 1⁄3 cup raisins. Raisins grown in the U.S. certified kosher for year-round use (without additives) generally are acceptable for use at Passover.
For more information on certification, check with your rabbi or the Orthodox Union website (www.oupassover.org).
The directions are for either cookies or cake; to make some of each, bake one cake and 12 cookies from a single batch of batter.
Glazed Sweet Tsimmes Cookies or Cakes
Makes 24 cookies or 2 9-inch cakes
oil or oil spray for greasing cake pans
12 pitted prunes
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
2 tsp. minced orange zest
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups almond meal (see below)
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes (peeled), room temperature
1/2 cup Pesach confectioner’s sugar (for glaze, see below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If making cookies, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If making cakes, grease bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with oil or spray. Line bottom of cake pans with parchment circles cut to fit. Grease top of parchment.
Cut prunes into 1/4-inch pieces and soak in 1/4 cup juice for 20 minutes. Whisk eggs until frothy, mix in orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Stir in prunes with juice. Mix in almond meal and 1⁄3 cup sugar. Fold in sweet potatoes. Gently mix until well combined.
To make cakes: Pour into pans. Bake about 50 minutes until firm and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let rest in pans for 2 minutes. Invert on cooling rack. Remove parchment paper. (Cakes will be fragile, so handle gently. If they crack, press pieces back together while still warm.) Let cool completely.
To make cookies: Drop by the tablespoonful on baking sheets. Bake about 30 minutes until firm and lightly browned on bottom edges. Let rest on sheets 2 minutes. Use spatula to remove cookies from parchment paper. Place on cooling rack. Let cool completely. Cookies will continue to firm as they cool.
To make glaze: Mix together 3 Tbs. orange juice with confectioner’s sugar. Stir well. To glaze the cookies, lightly dip the very tops of the cooled cookies into the glaze. Set cookies back on cooling rack until glaze has dried. To glaze the cakes, use a knife or pastry brush to spread glaze on top of the cooled cakes. If making ahead, store wrapped and unglazed and glaze a few hours before serving. Do not rewrap before serving.
To make almond meal: For about 2 cups of almond meal or flour, pulse 8 oz. of whole raw shelled almonds or whole or sliced blanched almonds in food processor or blender, working in batches if necessary. Pulse until you have a medium-fine powder, being careful not to overprocess. Sift almond meal through a strainer and place larger pieces back into the processor and pulse again. Repeat as needed.
To make Pesach confectioner’s sugar: Measure 1/2 cup less 1/2 Tbs. sugar into food processor or blender. Add 1⁄2 Tbs. potato starch. Pulse until finely ground.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.