Good things go into these alternative desserts for Passover (or year round). Both are parve, vegan and gluten free, and they are made in advance. The Lemon Ice with Pomegranate Sauce is sweet-tart and lovely garnished with the sauce and pomegranate seeds. It is easy to make without any special equipment.
The Strawberry Chocolate Pudding is full of fresh berries, not-too-sweet dark chocolate and coconut milk. It is thickened only with potato starch, is an elegant end to any Passover (or year-round) dinner. It can be made ahead and is gluten free and vegan.
There are several brands of canned coconut milk available for Passover use. Consult a rabbi or a kosher certification agency website for more information. Use regular, canned coconut milk (not low-fat or a refrigerated coconut milk beverage).
Strawberry Chocolate Coconut Pudding
Makes 8 servings, about 1/2 cup each
2 cups coconut milk, homemade or purchased (see below)
2 cups medium-sized strawberries
2 Tbs. potato starch
6 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 cups semisweet or bittersweet parve chocolate chips
2-3 Tbs. unsweetened shredded coconut
Make the coconut milk if necessary. Reserve four berries for garnish and puree the remainder (there should be about 1 3/4 cups of puree).
Stir coconut milk well, add to pot, being sure to scrape out any of the congealed “cream” on top. Heat on medium low until simmering and smooth. Carefully pour out a cup of the hot liquid into a small bowl and quickly whisk in the potato starch (for best results sieve, sift or break up any lumps before using) until smooth.
Slowly whisk the starch mixture back into the remainder of the simmering coconut milk until well blended and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should be smooth without lumps. (See notes if it remains lumpy.) Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the puree, sugar and lemon juice. Continue to whisk until well combined and smooth and the coconut milk and strawberry mixture has thickened and again coats the back of a spoon. Take off the heat, stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Pour into serving dish(es).
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set (usually about four hours). (Pudding will continue to thicken and can be made up to three days ahead.) Serve cold or at room temperature garnished with coconut shreds and thin slices of the reserved berries.
Notes: If the coconut milk/cornstarch mixture remains lumpy, use the back of a spoon to press the hot mixture through a fine strainer. Return to pot, bring back to a simmer and continue with the recipe.
Homemade Coconut Milk
Makes about 2 cups
Have ready a large strainer over a 4-cup measuring cup or large jar. Completely line the strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth leaving an overhang of about 4-5” all around. Soak 2 oz. unsweetened coconut shreds in 1 cup of very hot water in blender jar. Let sit until shreds begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Place lid on blender jar makes it easier to mix in the congealed “cream” layer with the thinner liquid underneath) and blend on high until smooth. Pour into prepared strainer and repeat. Press on solids with back of spoon to extract as much liquid as possible then bring up the ends of the cheesecloth, twist tight and wring out as much liquid as possible. Continue to squeeze with hands until the solids are dry. Discard solids and refrigerate coconut milk, covered, for 3-4 days. (When ready to use and if not heating, let come to room temperature.
Lemon Ice with Pomegranate Sauce
2 cups water
1½ cups sugar
8 medium lemons
¼ cup Pomegranate Sauce (see recipe)
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup chopped mint
Bring water to a boil, add sugar, stir and cook until sugar is dissolved. Let cool in pan and then refrigerate until well chilled. Juice lemons (saving and refrigerating halves for serving, if desired) and combine 2 cups of juice with syrup. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch metal pan. Cover and place in freezer. Every hour for the next 4 to 6 hours, stir well, breaking up any solid areas of ice. Store in freezer for up to 3 days.
To serve, use a sturdy spoon to shave and/or break up ice. Spoon into 8 serving dishes (or slice a bit of the ends of the 16 lemon halves off so they stand evenly, then pack with lemon ice). Drizzle with Pomegranate Sauce. Garnish with seeds and mint.