Cooking Class: Flourless Passover Desserts, Sephardic Style with Jennifer Abadi

Cooking Class: Flourless Passover Desserts, Sephardic Style with Jennifer Abadi


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Passover is one of the most beloved holidays in the Jewish calendar, celebrated across all streams of Judaism. But the holiday presents a challenge for many cooks and bakers, who struggle to find good desserts that omit wheat flour - a prohibited ingredient during the 8-day holiday. As a result, Jewish bakers have developed creative ways to prepare confections by replacing flour with fruits and ground nuts.

Join Sephardic cookbook author and instructor Jennifer Abadi as she shares some of her own favorite Passover desserts and demonstrates how to prepare them. You can cook along (or just watch!) to learn two desserts from the Sephardic Jewish tradition. The first uses charoset, an integral part of the Seder plate representing the mortar used by enslaved Israelites laying bricks for Pharaoh's monuments. Traditional Sephardic charoset often made with dried fruits, differs wildly from Ashkenazi versions generally made with fresh apples, walnuts, and wine. This Sephardic charoset forms a wonderful base for Moroccon style "truffles" with dates, raisins, and cinnamon. For the second dessert, you'll make two different takes on the macaroon - a Syrian style with pistachio and orange blossom water and an Italian version with almonds and pignoli. 

Designed to inspire those who love learning about other cuisines and cultures, or those who want to dive deeper into their own traditions, participants will come away with a new understanding of Passover cooking and recipes to enjoy not just for a Seder but throughout the year. This cooking class is also a great fit for anyone interested in gluten-free baking, for Passover or otherwise.

Below are the items you’ll want to participate in this class. We will email attendees the full recipe with measurements and instructions prior to the class so that you can pre-measure ingredients before joining:

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1¼ cups pignoli (pine) nuts
  • 1 cup blanched, almonds (whole preferred; slivered okay)
  • 1½ cups unsalted pistachios (¾ cup unsalted pistachios + ¾ cup salted pistachios is recommended)
  • 6 large Medjool dates or 10 regular-size dates
  • ½ cup golden and/or black raisings (mix of the two is recommended)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ to 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt (only add if NOT using salted pistachios)
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional but recommended; readily available online)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Passover wine, red wine, grape juice or pomegranate juice
  • 2 to 3 large eggs

Special equipment

We don’t list every item you’ll need here (e.g., standard items like knives, bowls, cutting boards). But we do our best to identify items that may not be in every kitchen and alternatives where possible.

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Food processor
  • Melon scoop or 1-tablespoon sized measuring spoon
  • Small plate
  • 3 medium mixing bowls
  • 2 large baking pans or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

    Jennifer Abadi is a native New Yorker, born, bred and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She is half Sephardic (Aleppo, Syria) and half Ashkenazic (Riga, Latvia). She is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Judeo-Arabic and Sephardic recipes and food customs, focusing on the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa. She is the author of two cookbooks: "Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe" and "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen." Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC), as well as privately. Jennifer has been providing Jewish Food & Culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for Context Travel since 2012."

    This conversation is suitable for all ages.

    90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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