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Style: Folsom | El Dorado Hills

Click: Holiday Kosher Baker

Dec 04, 2015 11:54AM ● Published by David Norby

 Almond and Olive Oil Cake

Serves 8 to 12

The use of olive oil in cakes dates back farther than the Chanukah story itself. Olive oil was used in baked offerings at the Temple. This is a super easy teatime cake that reminds me of simple cakes I have eaten in Italy. If you are feeling decadent, serve this with whipped cream.

  • ¾ cup (90g) sliced almonds (with or without skins)
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (60g) ground almonds
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest (from one orange) 
  • spray oil containing flour

PREHEAT OVEN to 350°F (180°C). Trace an 8-inch (20-cm) round pan on parchment paper and cut it out with scissors. Grease and flour the pan, press in the parchment circle; and grease and flour the top of the parchment and sides of the pan. Sprinkle and spread the sliced almonds on the bottom of the pan to cover it.

IN A MEDIUM BOWL, beat the sugar, eggs, and olive oil for about one minute at medium speed until creamy. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, almond extract, and orange zest and beat until combined. Pour the mixture over the sliced nuts. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

LET THE CAKE COOL in the pan for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the sides. Turn the cake  onto a wire rack and let it cool. Serve the cake almond side up. Store it covered at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.

 Decorated Cookies WITH Royal Icing

Makes 36 2- to 3-inch (5- to 8-cm) cookies, More if smaller

Cookie decorating is a fun activity to do with friends, family, and children. Make the dough a week before the holiday so you are ready when your helpers arrive. The dough may be made with butter. Cut and decorate the cookies as you like.

The tiny Chanukah-themed cookie cutters I use for this recipe can be ordered from my friends at


  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (265g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 226g) margarine, cut into Tablespoons

Royal Icing

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3¼ cups (390g) confectioners’ sugar
  • Boiling water
  • Food coloring

To make the shortbread

PLACE THE CONFECTIONERS' SUGAR and flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Mix for 10 seconds. Add the margarine and process until the dough starts to come together and you see a large gap in the dough in the food Processor bowl.

DIVIDE THE DOUGH in half, wrap each piece loosely in plastic wrap and flatten into discs. Place the dough in the freezer overnight.

PrREHEAT OVEN to 400°F (200°C). Remove the dough from the freezer and thaw just until you  can press it in gently.

PLACE ONE DISC of dough on top of a piece of parchment paper that has been sprinkled with flour, and sprinkle a little more flour on top of the disc. Place a second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll on top of the parchment

Until the dough is ¼-inch (6-mm) thick. Every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on the dough. Remove the top parchment and use it to line a cookie sheet. Line another cookie sheet with fresh parchment.

USE COOKIE CUTTERS to cut out cookies in any shape. Use a metal flat blade spatula to place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets. Reroll any scraps and cut more cookies. Repeat with the second disc of dough.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown on the bottom. Check halfway through baking to see if the cookies in the back are browning faster than those in the front; if they are, just turn the cookie sheet around. Slide the Parchment off the cookie sheet onto a wire rack and let cool.

Make the icing

PLACING THE EGG WHITES and vanilla into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on mediumlow speed until foamy, about one minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl often.

Once all the sugar has been added, beat at high speed for five minutes, or until thick and shiny. Add teaspoons of boiling water until you have a consistency that you can spread. If the icing gets too loose, add some confectioners’ sugar; if it’s

Too thick, add more drops of water. 

DIVIDE THE ICING into bowls and color with food coloring as desired. You can use a small metal spatula or knife to ice the cookies. For a more professional look, place the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. First ice a border on the cookies and then squeeze more icing into the center, to cover. Let the icing dry at room temperature for 20 minutes. Store cookies with or without icing in  an airtight container for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Farfel Cookies

Makes 10 dozen

These are thin chocolate chip cookies that get their crunch from toasted matzoh pieces. The recipe yields many cookies so find some helpers to assist with dropping the batter onto the cookie sheets.

  • 2 cups (120g) matzoh farfel (.-inch or smaller
  • matzoh pieces)
  • ½ cup (1 stick; 113g) margarine
  • 1 ¾ cups (350g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons matzoh cake meal
  • 1 cup (120g) ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (90g) mini chocolate chips

PREHEAT OVEN to 350°F (180°C).

LINE A COOKIE SHEET with parchment paper. Add the farfel and spread it out in one layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment off the sheet onto a wire rack. Let cool ten minutes.

PLACE THE MARGARINE into a large heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave for 45 seconds, or until melted. Add the sugar and use a whisk to stir. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Add the toasted farfel, cake meal, ground almonds and salt, and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix to evenly distribute. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (do not skip this part).

LINE COOKIE SHEETS with parchment paper. Drop teaspoons of dough onto the parchment, two inches (5cm) apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown on the edges. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack and let cool. Line the cookie sheets with new pieces of parchment, add more dough and bake, and then repeat for as many batches as needed. Place cooled cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

 Florentine Bars 

makes 20 square bars or 32 triangles

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar  
  • 3 large egg whites
  • zest of one large orange (or 2 teaspoons juice)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups sliced almonds (blanched or with skin)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan

PREHEAT OVEN to 325°F. Grease a 9 X 13-inch pan with vegetable oil. Press in a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom and go an inch up the sides of the pan, making sure you press it into the corners. Grease the top of the parchment. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, egg whites and orange zest. Use a silicone spatula to gently mix in nuts and chopped cranberries, being careful not to crush the nuts. Scoop into the pan and use the spatula or your hands to spread evenly in the bottom of the pan. The easiest way to do this is to push the batter into the edges and corners first and then fill in the middle. You will have a thin nut layer.

BAKE 25 MINUTES, or until nuts are golden. Let cool one hour. Pull up the parchment to lift the bar out of the pan. Place another piece of parchment on top and then turn the bar over onto the new parchment.  Peel off the bottom parchment. Melt the chocolate chips either over a double boiler or in the microwave oven in for 45 seconds, stir, melt another 30 seconds, stir and then for 15 seconds more, if needed, until melted. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate on the bottom of the bar. If desired, you can use a serrated knife to make lines in the chocolate to decorate it. Slide the parchment and bars onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into squares, triangles or rectangular bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days or freeze for up to three months

Reprinted with permission from Holiday Kosher Baker © 2013 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.  Photography by Michael Bennett Kress

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