Archive for the 'Chocolate' Category

Rescue Chocolate Introduces “Don’t Passover Me” Bark

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

In December, Sarah Gross attended a workshop called “Bringing a Great Idea to Scale” at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. When prompted to write down a few things she cared about most, Gross wrote “chocolate” and “helping animals.” She recalls, “The next morning as I walked my own rescued pitbull, Mocha, after a breakfast of chocolate (of course), my inspiration hit. ‘Rescue Chocolate,’ I muttered to myself over and over; the ideas were flying in and my fingers began to freeze as I wrote away on my iPhone. Mocha wondered why I wasn’t throwing the ball so well this morning. Anyway, the company took off from there!”

Rescue Chocolate donates 100 percent of its net profits to animal rescue groups, and all its packaging educates chocolate lovers about various issues related to the companion animal overpopulation crisis. All of its products are vegan and kosher/pareve. The company sells (or will sell) chocolate under such catchy names as Bow Wow Bon Bons, Peanut Butter Pit Bull, Pick Me! Pepper, The Fix, Foster-riffic Peppermint, Forever Mocha, and even “Don’t Passover Me” Bark.

Dessert Hummus?! What is the World Coming To?

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I love hummus. I really do. I had some this morning for breakfast. I will probably have some with dinner. I seriously considered running away with my favorite hummus-seller in Machane Yehuda when I lived in Israel. But even I have never really considered the possibility of a sweet hummus. I mean, at its base hummus is mashed chickpeas. And when I think chickpeas I don’t think dessert.

Well lucky (?) for me, there are people in the world who don’t think the way I do when it comes to chickpeas. They saw hummus as a dessert-in-the-making. And they added some cocoa powder and some sugar (sugar! The humanity!) and they called it Chocolate Hummus.

If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake . . . on the Hood of My Car

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If my summer were a cookbook, it would be called What to Expect When You’re Expecting— Expecting Company, That Is, and It’s a Heat Wave.

Yes, welcome to life in the global warming oven.  We are on at least heat wave #3 of the summer here in usually temperate Portland, and I’ve had a potluck to attend or guests to host for all of them.  And while the hot weather makes me want to eat ice cream three meals a day, I know I really shouldn’t.

Especially not when “eating” means “bringing to a potluck where it will sit out in the sun.”

So what has been on the menu?  Lots, and I figured I’d share it in case you can’t stand the heat but still need to be in the kitchen.

Yid.Dish: I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Dairy Chocolate Cake

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I had my sweet “eureka!” moment in the health food store yesterday, more specifically in the canned goods aisle. With a glance at a can of coconut milk, all my non-dairy dessert dissatisfaction just fell away.

My devotion to dessert is almost religious. I believe that no good meal is complete without a sweet ending, and that chocolate sometimes does the job better than sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll.  However, I often fall short in the dessert department when preparing a meat meal, meaning: my parve desserts aren’t spectacular.  I have been tinkering with non-dairy chocolate cake recipes for a while, but until now always felt somewhat dissappointed with the results.  One version wasn’t nearly chocolatey enough, another was throat-sticking dry, and how about the one with the weird sawdust aftertaste?…. And then, alas, there was this chocolate number.  Rich, endlessly chocolate, dense, and moist, this cake makes me retract my earlier declarations that baking without butter is just a waste of time.  The coconut milk gives this cake creaminess and heft without being coconutty in flavor, and the Trader Joe’s parve chocolate chips lends it a deep dark chocolate-ness.  The chocolate glaze is optional, but my theory is if you’re having dessert- have dessert.

Not-So-Sweet Cookie Story

This is the final installment of a three part series. Click here to learn how to win her new book There Shall Be No Needy.

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In my childhood, Shabbat never felt complete without Stella D’Oro cookies. For the uninitiated, these are dry cookies whose chief (or only) advantage is that they are parve (dairy free) and therefore can be eaten for dessert after a meat meal. I was especially partial to the Swiss Fudge flavor, which featured a dollop of chewy fudge in the middle of an otherwise-bland cookie if you nibbled away the outside first, you could enjoy a few bites of pure fudge at the end.

I have since stopped eating meat and have learned to bake, thereby eliminating the need for parve supermarket cookies, but still have a soft place in my heart for Stella D’Oro. I was therefore upset to hear recently that workers at the cookie-maker’s Bronx factory went on strike this past summer, and even more upset that this strike has attracted (as far as I can tell) virtually no notice in the Jewish community.

In 2006, Brynwood Partners bought Stella D’Oro from Kraft Foods. As soon as the contract of the existing 136 workers ran out in the summer of 2008, the new management demanded that the workers accept pay cuts of up to 26% and begin contributing to their health insurance plan. The workers scheduled to bear the brunt of this pay cut would be the women who package the cookies. (Brynwood has classified certain jobs – mostly those held by men as “skilled”
and subject to smaller paycuts) The workers walked out in August.

Yid.Dish: Blondies

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I’m in the minority as far as Jews go in that I’m blonde.  There are increasing number of blonde Jews but we’re still few and far between.  I was president of my Jewish sorority in college so my picture was smack in the middle of our composite photo.  Not only was I  front and center but I stuck out like a sore thumb as one of three or four blondes out of over 100 women on the  composite.  In any case, I’ve always embraced being blonde so when I was deciding what to bake recently blondies came to mind immediately.  I am a huge fan of chewy brownies but there’s something about blondies that make them even better than brownies, at least in my opinion.

I located a recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs and after reading the recipe I realized what makes blondies so fantastic (beyond the hair color connection, of course): brown sugar!  Blondies are chewy and have a bit of a molasses flavor since they made using only brown sugar and no white sugar.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with blondies, they are sort of like a chocolate chip cookie in a bar form – but so much better.  There are a few reasons that blondies will be my quick and easy dessert of choice moving forward: they are versitile, easy to make without fancy kitchen electrics, and keep well in an airtight container for a few days.

As far as versitility goes, the recipe I used called for semi-sweet chocolate chips but I had a bag of Heath Toffee Bits that I wanted to use up so I did a bit of a swap.  Here are some of my other ideas for blondie add-ins: dried cherries or cranberries with white chocolate chips, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips with walnuts, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips andcrystalized ginger, and the list goes on…

Shavuot Cake: A Family Tradition

Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal was ordained this May at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. For the past three years she has worked as an educator at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. She will be moving to El Paso, Texas this June with her husband Adam and her son Simon.

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In my family, holiday food traditions are never about what you might think of as traditional holiday food.  Yes, we have matzah on Passover and apples and honey or Rosh Hashanah, but the traditions go deeper than that.  At our Passover seder, we must have potato kuglets, made each year by different members of the family.  No matter what else on the menu changes, the kuglets are how we know it is Passover, and not another festive meal.  Before the fast of Yom Kippur, our traditional family food is honey chicken and noodles.  Nothing else will get us through the fast, and no one thinks to suggest anything else. And then there is the Ten Commandments Cake on Shavuot.

Yid.Dish: Matzoh Crunch

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So we only have a few days left of Pesach… and I happen to be quite happy about this!  It’s not that I don’t understand Pesach or why we don’t eat leavened things – I do.  I actually think the story of Pesach reminds us, as Jews, of some important lessons.  The reminder that I find to be most poignant is that we cannot consider ourselves free as long as others are oppressed.

Sorry for the digression – now back to food… I know some people find cooking during Pesach to be a fun challenge but I find it inconvenient.  As a vegetarian I rely (probably too much) on foods which are not considered “Kosher l’Pesach”, i.e. pasta, rice, bread, soy items, etc, so during Pesach I end up eating lots of matzoh pizza.  For anyone not familiar with matzoh pizza it is a basic combination of matzoh, tomato sauce and cheese which is then toasted (do not microwave because your matzoh pizza will be soggy).  I suppose one could come up with many variations to the aforementioned matzoh pizza recipe (please feel free to share your favorite) but no matter what it’s still matzoh pizza and is not even close to real pizza.

As you can infer from the previous paragraphs my brainstorming of what my boyfriend and I were going to eat during Pesach was a bit of a depressing process for me, however; there was one beacon of hope!  Early last week a friend emailed me for my matzoh crunch recipe.  I had made it last year and brought it to my office (filled with mostly Jews) and this friend like it so much that she went home that night and made it for her boyfriend.  He liked it so much that he requested it again this year!  I don’t know how but I until I received her email I had totally forgotten about the matzoh crunch.

Why is This Chocolate Different From All Others?

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A new article of mine appears today in The Atlantic called “A Seder Different From All Other Seders,” exploring the tragic demise of Barton’s, the iconic Jewish chocolate company.

In typical recession-era corporate fashion, in the late winter of 2009 a Barton’s Candy salesman, planning his annual Passover sales, had heard about a round of layoffs at the company. The news was followed by a more jarring discovery: the chocolate company had canceled its production for its most important time of the year, Passover. The salesman called Menachem Lubinsky–kosher industry insider and editor of the Kosher Today newsletter–in tears, lamenting his professional fate as well as that of the iconic chocolate company.

Edible Crafts Series: Pesach

In my family, each year as we embraced dessert after the seder, trays of chocolate were always passed around the table: chocolate covered jellies, chocolate covered coconut, chocolate turtles, and more. As an edible craft treat, why not make your own chocolate covered desserts?

Chocolate covered treats

Pick out your favorite fruits, nuts, dried fruit, and even kosher for Passover marshmallows. I used bananas, dried apricots, walnuts, and almonds. You can find chocolate fondue recipes here and here. Get creative, invite family and friends to join you, and eat some homemade dessert for Pesach!

On Passover: Considering Child Slavery on Cocoa Farms

Thank you Rodney North and Susan Sklar of Equal Exchange for this great guest post.  Rodney North is The Answer Man for Equal Exchange, and as such is a resource for the public, academics, and the media.  He has been with Equal Exchange since 1996, and has been Equal Exchange’s point person on the forced child labor issue for the past five years. Susan Sklar grew up as a member of a Reform synagogue in Scranton, PA and supported the United Farm Workers grape boycott through her temple youth group in the 1970’s.  She continues to advocate for social justice and food issues at Equal Exchange through its Interfaith Program.

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On Passover every Jew is obligated to imagine that he or she had once been a slave in the land of Egypt. We try to envision the experience of our ancestors: the sadness of their lives under brutal day-to-day work conditions.  It’s unfortunate that in order for Jews (and others) to imagine slavery, we only need to look at slave labor conditions for cocoa workers in West Africa today, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown for the chocolate candy that many of us enjoy eating.

A Charitable Project That Hits Close to Home

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Earlier today, a friend was kind enough to share an article with me that addressed several of my interests: cooking, charity and the Pittsburgh Jewish community. The first two have had a prominent position my entire life, and the last only came into my frame of interest when I enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh this year.

The city’s local paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, recently featured a piece about a class called “Not Your Bubbe’s Cooking…But Close!” an initiative taken by the United Jewish Federation Women. The class serves two very important functions: teaching young Jewish women to cook traditional Jewish foods, and benefiting the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry. Each class member pays an $8 fee that goes directly to the pantry, which has a budget of $235,000. Sadly, living in the city has shown me how great a homelessness problem there is in the area, and more donations and assistance in securing funds are needed.

While the class is benefiting a good cause, it is also doing the mitzvah (good deed) of passing Jewish traditions on to the next generation. “We had young women who were looking to learn traditional ways of cooking Jewish foods and, at the same time, to have a social experience and meet new people,” says Federation director Samantha Rothaus. She devised the program along with Jennifer Jones, the young adult director.

Yid.Dish: Cut Fat and Cholesterol out of Pesach

My family makes Passover a week of fresh veggies, but most of my friends will be filling up on meats and sweets and thus eating more fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol than usual. Here are some tips on lowering the fat and cholesterol in your own recipes, as well as two recipes of my own for which I reduce the amount of unhealthy ingredients.

In the field of calorie and fat reduction (the work I do for Rhode Island’s Public School System) we follow a four step system to make recipes healthier. Remember it is not necessary to eliminate all of the ingredients considered harmful. Small amounts of fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol can actually be good for your system, so we are just looking to decrease the amounts of each, not remove them completely.

Yid.Dish: A Break From CSA Land – Chocolate Mousse

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I promise I will have more recipes from my CSA in the next few days (here’s a hint: collard greens) but today I want to take a break from the veggies to share something really outstanding!  Last weekend my boyfriend and I had one of his old friends over for a bit of a feast, here is the menu: Maui ribs (for the boys – I’m a vegetarian), fork-mashed potatoes, kale, braised fennel… and of course dessert.

My boyfriend and I had been to a french restaurant the night prior and shared chocolate mousse for dessert.  It was good but a bit heavy and dense for my taste.  The next day I started thinking about what to make for dessert and lacked inspiration so I asked him what he wanted me to make.  He clearly didn’t get his filling of mousse the night before and asked me to make more!  I had never made mousse before so I set out to find a good recipe.  I looked through many cookbooks but ended up looking to the chef who is a master of all things comfort food – Tyler Florence, though I did adapt his recipe slightly.  Tyler’s recipes never steer you wrong.  In fact, if you’re ever looking for some outstanding mac and cheese his is fantastic.

Ok, back to the mousse… it turned out to be quite simple and absolutely delicious.  My boyfriend and his friend agreed that it was restaurant-quality!  The best part is that if you have extra and cover it tightly with plastic wrap it will last in the fridge for a few days.  Since you can make this ahead of time it would be perfect for a dairy Shabbat lunch for those of you who don’t cook on Shabbat.  As a side note, the reason you want to keep it covered is that it will take on flavors of other things in the fridge – same reason you always want butter covered.  Now for the recipe…