Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies (for Passover and beyond)

I have a strict rule about Passover desserts:  One should never try to make cakes or cookies with matzo meal or any of it’s derivatives.  They always taste like matzo and the bondage of my people, rather than dessert.  I am only partly kidding, people, so please don’t try to convince me that you made a delicious Passover cake with matzo cake meal.  You didn’t.  So, my approach to Passover baking is to instead choose desserts that are flourless by nature, like pavlovas, flourless chocolate torte, and macarons/macaroons.  These Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies are a spicy variation on the popular gluten-free favorite that can be found at Whole Foods.  The spices were inspired by another old favorite of mine the “Mayan Mystery Cookie,”  which is a well-known recipe that has been circulating for a while.  My version is a bit more interesting with warm spices and lots of ginger.  Of course, if you like the original or are serving kids, feel free to omit all the spices and the crystallized ginger.  These cookies are made in one bowl, quick, easy, gluten-free, can be dairy free, Parve, nut-free, and very low in fat.  Enjoy!

First you want to sift your powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl of your mixer (you can definitely use an electric hand mixer).  Add your dry spices at this point, if using.  Give it a mix on low, just to combine.  Then, just add your egg whites and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed for ablout a minute.  Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger by hand, if using.

This is the crystallized ginger that I minced.  It is optional, and only suggested if you are a ginger lover or hosting adults only.  Kids tend to think it is too spicy.  I like to cut it with kitchen shears.image

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until set and shiny on top and still a bit soft in the center.

Let cool completely and peel off of parchment.  Happy baking and Happy Pesach!

Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies

Parve, perfect for Passover, gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free diets, and for all year round.

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (find the Kosher for Passover variety)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup egg whites (approximately 3 large eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (parve and K for P variety)
2 tablespoons crystallized or candied ginger, finely minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Mix on low to combine.
Add in egg whites and vanilla, mixing well for 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl. Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger (if using). Spoon by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes until tops are set and shiny. Let cool for 10 minutes on parchment. Peel cookies off parchment and serve or store in airtight container.

Pink Grapefruit and White Chocolate Curd

When I was pregnant with my third child, my only craving was for pink grapefruit juice. Odd, but true. I don’t know why pink grapefruit tastes better than yellow, but there is just something magical about the pink sweet-tart fruit. It is so refreshing.  In an effort to create a new dessert for a contest the other day, I ended up inadvertently creating this surprisingly versatile Pink Grapefruit and White Chocolate Curd. As is sometimes the case when I am experimenting, the actual dessert was a failure, but I realized just how many other options I would have with this special treat. If you have never had a “curd,” and think that I am talking about cheese…I am not. The most common type would be lemon curd, and it is a sweet, thick spread that you have probably had before. Lemon bars and lemon meringue pie tend to use variations on a lemon curd. You can really make curd with almost any fruit juice, but citrus fruits are perfect with their tartness that can hold up to a bit of sugar, butter and eggs. My main tips for a successful product (and not making accidental scrambled eggs) is to use a double boiler, and to whisk constantly and vigorously. Happy curdmaking!

First, zest your grapefruit(s) and combine your freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, zest, egg, egg yolks, and sugar. I like to use a large measuring cup for this. Whisk it together well. Now it is time to set up your bainmarie (or double boiler). You do not need any fancy equipment. Just a saucepan and a stainless steel mixing bowl that fit together pretty well. The bowl needs to be large enough that it rests on the top of the saucepan without the bottom touching the inch or so of water that you will put in the saucepan. Before beginning, make sure that you set out your white chocolate and butter, cubed. Also have your vanilla, an oven mitt, and pink food coloring gel (if using). Once you start cooking, you can’t leave, so it helps to be prepared.

Heat your liquid mixture in a bowl on top of a saucepan with an inch of water on medium-high.  It will seem very liquid-y for a long time, and then suddenly it starts to thicken.  Whisk constantly for about 5-10 minutes or until mixture gets thick (like a pudding) and slightly frothy. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the white chocolate until it is smooth. Add the cubed butter and again whisk vigorously until all of the butter has melted and emulsified with the rest of the mixture. Add in your vanilla and a drop or two of pink food coloring (optional). If you are concerned about any egg bits or not wanting the zest in the mix, strain the curd into another bowl. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until set. Overnight is best.

So, now that you have this fabulous curd, what to do with it? Pour it into a tart shell or even a store bought graham cracker crust. Top with whipped cream or a meringue and call it a day. A pretty good day.  Or just scoop it up with a butter waffle cookie (and maybe some sprinkles on top).  I seriously ate a million of these the other day.  You could also use it as a cupcake filling, an eclair filling, or  top a shortcake.  It would be delicious on a pavlova, pound cake, or angel food cake….The list goes on and on.  Enjoy!

Pink Grapefruit and White Chocolate Curd

1/2  cup freshly squeezed juice and zest from 1 ruby red grapefruit

1/4-1/3 cup sugar (depending on desired level of sweetness)

1 large egg

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped (can use good quality white chocolate chips)

6 tablespoons butter, diced

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 drops pink food coloring gel (optional)

Combine freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, zest, sugar, egg, and egg yolks in a large measuring cup.  Whisk well.  In a mixing bowl over a double boiler on medium to medium-high, whisk mixture constantly until thickened to the consistency of a pudding, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Add white chocolate, whisking well.  Taste for sweetness.  If mixture is too tart, more white chocolate can be added at this point.   Whisk in diced butter vigorously until melted and emulsified.  Whisk in vanilla and 1-2 drops of pink food coloring, if desired.  Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl.  Chill for 4 hours.  Mixture could also be poured into a tart shell and chilled overnight.*

*If making a tart, you might consider adding a small amount of unflavored gelatin.  About 1 teaspoon should be plenty.  Bloom gelatin for a few minutes in 1/4 cup cold liquid (more grapefruit juice would work).  Heat gelatin in microwave for about 15-20 seconds or until gelatin looks more translucent.  Whisk this into curd before placing in tart shell.