These recipe is an excerpt from:
Remaining Kosher Volume Two: A Cookbook for All with a Hechsher in Their Heart
All text © 2016 Lauren Stacy Berdy
All photos © 2016 John White
All other rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
Zaftig! This parve chocolate chip cookie is like my aunt Nina: both are full figured. When we were kids, my mother used to talk about women having castles or pancakes: I’m talking castles here.
Have you noticed that some parve cookies look deflated? This cookie looks pumped. It boasts a well-rounded shape. All in all, this is a parve cookie that gets noticed. It has pinup sexy looks.
These parve chocolate cookies also have street cred. They hide behind nothing and can stand up to being in the sunshine of some kind of parve cookie paradise.
This cookie stands on the shoulders of the mighty halvah, a splendid foundation. Be sure to measure the halvah just like brown sugar, solidly packing it into the measuring cup.
I buy pre-packaged halvah at the kosher market. I always choose the one wrapped and sealed in foil because it is always moist with life.
The most important part about this recipe to state right up front: this cookie is parve that doesn’t taste like ones you have gotten used to. Yet there is no shortening here, no margarine either, nope.
Tahini is also here. Like its cousin peanut butter, tahini does a great job . While baking, the raw, oily tahini courses through this cookie and delivers an incredible tasting fat. It’s also deliciously nutty.
I chop up parve dark semi-sweet Belgium chocolate from a much larger manufactured bar. I am not stingy with the chocolate. Use packaged parve chips- their waxiness won’t signify the way a good dark chocolate does.
Walnuts are here, too- leave out if a problem.
The last ingredient I want to talk about is the vanilla bean. I use lots of them in my kitchen. I am of the opinion that its “caviar” always results in a better tasting sweet.
I buy vanilla beans in bulk. They don’t seem so exotic after they arrive by mail and tied in a bundle. Splitting the order among friends will save you even more. Your baked goods will never be the same.
Of course, use real vanilla extract as an alternative or convenience.
The point is: good ingredients matter.
Bake these cookies and get the same thrill I had once this recipe came together.
Best yet, these chocolate cookies are so easy to make and so great to eat!
1½ all-purpose flour
1½ cups bread flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup halvah: grated, packed like brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
2 large eggs: broken and checked
½ cup creamy tahini: stirred and measured
1½ cup dark chocolate: chopped or chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, broken
Yield: about (30) 3” cookies
Special Equipment: standing mixer, rubber spatula, batter attachment, bowl, plastic wrap, parchment paper or silicone mat
Check the eggs and set aside.
Measure out all the ingredients, beginning with the two flours: fill the measuring cup using a tablespoon. Use a long knife to level and sweep off the excess.
Sift both flours, along with the baking soda and baking powder, into a bowl. Set aside.
Make sure that the halvah isn’t hard and dry. Place into the microwave for 5 seconds at a time to soften appropriately.
Press and pack the halvah down into the measuring cup. Level it off by scraping the top off with a knife. Place in a bowl. Add in the cup of sugar. Press and pack the brown sugar. Add it into the bowl.
If using a vanilla bean: lay the bean in front of you, so that it is parallel. Slice evenly in two lengthwise. Use the blade of a knife to scrape the inner caviar of one side. The vanilla caviar resides in the beans inner hollow. Carefully scrape the vanilla bean directly into the “sugar” bowl. Repeat with the other half. Be sure to get all the “caviar” out: scrape again if necessary.
Measure out the tahini.
Place all sugars, softened halvah and vanilla bean caviar (or vanilla extract) into the standing mixing bowl. Add the eggs. Beat on medium high for 30 seconds. The mixture should look smooth, no lumps.
Pour in the tahini, using a rubber spatula to scrape it all in. Beat for 5 seconds.
Add in all the sifted ingredients and the kosher salt. Beat on low for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides for any flour and continue beating.
When all the flour is incorporated, add in the vegetable oil. Beat for another 5 seconds.
Add in all the chopped chocolate (or chips) and the broken walnuts (if using). Beat for another 5 seconds. The dough will be dense.
Scape the dough into a bowl, seal with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 ºF.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper (or silicone mat).
Use your hands or scoop to make mounds of dough golf ball-sized for large (3”) cookies or walnut-sized for smaller (2”) cookies. Place the dough balls at least 1½” apart on the paper/mat.
Any leftover remaining dough is good for about three days if refrigerated. The dough can be frozen in a zip-lock bag for about a month.
Bake the cookies for about 21-25 minutes or until the cookies are a deep golden brown. Make sure you bake long enough: the final color determines both taste and crunch.
If you like, these cookies can be served warm and oozing: to do so, just wait 15-20 minutes. Then slip off the baking sheet with a metal spatula and serve.
Alternately, completely cool the cookies and store appropriately.
Rethinking Sweet Parve
by Lauren Stacy Berdy
My first interest here is to start a sweet parve conversation. Think of this as parve ecology. I changed the way I view sweet parve by changing my attitude towards it. I have faith in my skills. They have supplied me with a living for many years. Even with decades of culinary expertise, it’s always challenging working kosher to create parve desserts. I tasted many parve cookies, cakes and pastries that are disappointing to eat. They give taste the skip, often due to the use of margarine and other faux ingredients. Yet our world is also filled with wonderful sun filled ingredients, splendid staples like extra virgin olive oil, halvah and tahini.
Maintaining the kosher standard should have less to do with fast substitutions and wishful thinking (about taste) and more to do with just being in the nature of all things kosher. A sideway glance can rotate one's point of view.
I also ask: who doesn’t appreciate a delicious cookie?
Lauren Stacy Berdy earned her professional diploma from Ecole de Cuisine, La Varenne Paris, France in 1978, then spent a few years working in Europe before bringing it home. She spent more than three decades as a private chef-caterer. She now resides 130 paces from the beach with her husband in Hollywood, Florida, where she wrote Remaining Kosher Volume One: A Cookbook For All With A Hechsher In Their Heart. This eBook is available on iTunes. Volume Two is well on its way.
Even with more than three decades of culinary expertise it was always challenging when working kosher as a caterer to create parve desserts. I have tasted many parve cookies, cakes and pastries that are disappointing to eat. They give taste the skip. The fact is that most parve sweets, even homemade ones, have been co-opted by faux industrial ingredients like margarine. Margarine and I have no real relationship. It is like the friend of a friend of another friend. It’s a stand-in replacement. It is really just tasteless oil.
But nothing says that cannot be changed constraints can sometimes teach us more about ourselves. We are not bound by tradition. We do not have to be bullied by ingredients. Maintaining the Kosher standard has less to do with wishful thinking and fast substitutions and more to do with just being in the nature of all things kosher. My personal take on cooking kosher food is simple. It is valued because it invokes a delicious idea not just an adherence. My desserts are no different.
I have adopted another point of view, a new direction. I want to get the past into perspective. My interest is to start a sweet parve conversation. Think of this as parve ecology. I changed the way I viewed sweet parve by changing my attitude towards it. I have faith in my skills. They have supplied me with a living for many years.
Our world is filled with wonderful sun filled ingredients, splendid staples like extra virgin olive oil, halvah and tahini. I would be the last person to say that I am an originator of anything. All it takes is a sudden leap of thought to transform what seems like an elusive subject like non-dairy sweets and make something not only delicious but also memorable. A sideways glance can rotate one's point of view.
It is my hope in sharing these recipes that I help to expand the landscape of tempting parve sweets. Choices abound and many new roads have been explored. It’s all in the laws of succession. Replacement rather than continuity!
Also, I ask you who doesn’t appreciate a delicious cookie.