Cooking with Denise! Cake-a-maker – Four Pesach deserts you must try!

Cooking with Denise! Cake-a-maker – Four Pesach deserts you must try!

Good planning is essential for all organised chefs, and Passover preparation is no exception, argues Denise Phillips.

Denise Phillips at last year's event. Credit: Chaim Bacon
Denise Phillips. Credit: Chaim Bacon

Stock up on basic ingredients such as vanilla sugar, potato flour, cake meal, chocolate, dried fruit, nuts and plenty of eggs.

Keep in mind, too, that Pesach desserts tend to be quite sweet, so you could reduce the sugar content by 50g (2oz) for many recipes and the results will still taste great.

Good Pesach-friendly substitutes for regular recipes include potato flour and ground almonds to bind and thicken and cake meal and matzah meal to make pastry. Crumbled matzah can also be used as a topping.

Baked Apples with Crunchy Coconut Topping

This Pesach-friendly version is ideal for Seder night as it can be made in advance and enjoyed hot, cold or warm.

Preparation time: 15 mins     Cooking time: 20 minutes     Serves: 4 people

Ingredients:Baked apples with crunchy coconut topping 4b

  • 4 large eating apples, halved and cored
  • 55g raisins
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 75ml apple juice or water
  • 50g medium matzah meal
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g margarine
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, roughly chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF/ Gas mark 4.

2. Arrange the apples cut side up in a shallow ovenware dish.

3. Divide the raisins among the apples, pressing them into the core cavity.

4. Drizzle with two tablespoons of honey and add the apple juice or water to the base of the dish.

5. Put the maztah meal, coconut and margarine in a small bowl and rub together until the mixture is well combined.

6. Stir in the sunflower seeds and walnuts. Spoon the topping over the apples and drizzle over the remaining honey.

7. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the topping is golden and the apples are soft. Serve with ice cream or sorbet.

French Macaroons

These dainty sophisticated macaroons are easier than you think.

When you add the food colouring and flavouring, add a drop at a time to get the desired look and taste.

Over Pesach, you can find kosher versions of all the colours, but the flavours you can use are limited to almond, vanilla and rum.

Preparation time: 20 mins plus 25 minutes to dry Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves: 6 people

French Macaroons 3a


  • 170g icing sugar
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 100g egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • 70g caster sugar


  • 150g butter
  • 75g icing sugar


  • 85g icing sugar + 85g cocoa powder – Filling: Use Nutella


  • 170g icing sugar
  • 60g ground pistachio nuts
  • 60g ground almonds

Filling: Use green colouring and fold chopped nuts into the icing sugar mixture


1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC / 140ºFan / Gas mark 3.

2. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

3. Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in the food processor to a very fine mixture – then sieve and set aside.

4. Whizz egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually add the caster sugar until thick and glossy. (At this stage you can also stir in your desired flavour to correspond with the colour you are looking for for your macaroon).

5. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well.

6. Add the remaining half, making sure that you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick ribbon-like consistency.

7. Spoon it quickly into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle (otherwise it will dry out).

8. Pipe on the tray 5cm circles making sure to keep 2cm between each one.

Passover Ginger Pear Cake

This is a gorgeous combination of fresh ginger, ginger spice and crystallised ginger.

Although the list of ingredients is quite long, it well worth the effort.

Make your cake either in one large cake tin or divide the mixture into small glass ramekins for individual portions.

The alcoholic enhancement is very mild but it certainly improves the cake flavour with time, so do make it a couple a days in advance before you need it.

Preparation time: 25 mins Cooking time: 1½ hours for large cake; 35 minutes for small cakes. Serves: 8 people; Parev

IngredientsGinger cake 3c

  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 50g crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 50ml brandy/ kosher wine 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest – about
  • 1 lemon, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs 100g matzah cake meal
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 5 pears, about 900g, peeled and cored and roughly chopped
  • 75g slivered almonds, toasted 50g sliced toasted almonds (topping).


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas mark 4.

2. Line and grease a 22cm loose-base cake tin.

3. Combine cranberries, crystallised ginger and brandy in a small glass dish. Cover with cling film and microwave on high for two minutes. Remove and set aside.

4. Combine margarine, oil and fresh ginger, sugar, lemon zest, ground ginger, eggs, matzah meal and ground almonds and process together. Remove and transfer to a large bowl.

5. Stir in the slivered toasted almonds, chopped pear and dried fruit mixture. Combine well.

6. Spoon into your prepared cake tin.

7. Sprinkle sliced almonds over top of cake.

8. Bake for about 1¼ to 1 ½ hours or until cooked.

9. Remove cake from oven, and rest on rack for 30 minutes.

Triple Chocolate Passover Cake

This is a reliable chocolate cake to add to your Passover repertoire.

It oozes chocolate with every bite – your chocoholic guests will be delighted. I serve it during Pesach as part of a grand afternoon tea or as a dessert with extra strawberries.

It freezes well, so make a double batch and freeze one, as you know your guests will want another one very soon!

Preparation time: 15 mins     Cooking time: 45 minutes     Serves: 8 people; Parev

IngredientsTriple chocolate cake 3a

  • 4 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kiddush wine or red table wine
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 150g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200g margarine, melted, plus 1 tablespoon to grease the tin
  • Garnish: Icing sugar and sliced strawberries


1. Line the base of a 22cm/ 9inch loose-based cake tin with non stick baking parchment and grease the sides.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF/ Gas mark 4.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick. Add the red wine, almond essence, ground almonds, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and plain chocolate and melted margarine.

4. Mix well until completely combined.

5. Pour into the prepared cake tin.

6. Bake for 45 minutes or until set in the middle and firm to touch.

7. Leave to cool and invert onto a serving plate.

To serve the stylish way: Dust with icing sugar and garnish with strawberries

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