For some bakers, whipping up a homemade dessert that's both delicious and Passover-appropriate is the kind of task that sounds too daunting even to attempt. While there's certainly nothing wrong with going store-bought if the thought stresses you out, that's not your only option! Consider a type of sweet that inherently lends itself to working within your dietary restrictions—sorbets and meringues, for example, or a creamy, smooth-as-silk caramel flan if you're planning a dairy dessert. For fresh twists on the classics, we've got coconut macaroons enriched with dulce de leche and dipped in chocolate, or an incredibly moist, aromatic flourless cake scented with orange and saffron. Below are 11 of our favorite Passover treats that won't just do the job, but will impress the heck out of anyone who tastes them.
A note about the recipes that follow: Though some were designed with Passover in mind, others are meant to be more all-purpose, which means some of them contain ingredients not considered kosher for Passover—or, at least, not considered by everyone to be such. Ordinary vanilla extract and vanilla paste are not considered kosher for Passover; you may substitute a kosher vanilla extract or (preferably in recipes where their flavor won't be drowned out by other powerful ingredients) the scraped beans from a vanilla pod. As dietary restrictions and traditions vary widely, we've chosen here to offer a range of recipes to meet a range of preferences, with the hope that everyone will be able to find a dish that they love.
Eggless Chocolate Mousse
A homemade sweetened condensed milk combined with Dutch cocoa produces a luxuriously smooth and dark chocolate mousse with no eggs or gelatin at all. The alkalinity of the cocoa powder prevents the dairy from curdling, and the condensed milk is thick enough to serve as a stable base all on its own. We lighten up the superrich chocolate base by folding in freshly whipped cream.
This gorgeous custard is chock-full of caramel, from the creamy center to the deep, dark layer on top, while a higher-than-usual ratio of egg yolks and cream makes it insanely rich. If you like, add nutty toffee notes by toasting the cream first, either in a pressure cooker or by cooking it sous vide. Tempering the eggs before combining them with the caramel, cream, and milk ensures that they incorporate smoothly.
The Best Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
For our chocolate-dipped version of the classic Passover dessert, we toast unsweetened coconut flakes in the microwave to deepen their color and flavor. To lend subtler vanilla and almond flavors, this recipe calls for vanilla paste and nut liqueur instead of the typical extracts; substitute kosher vanilla extract or vanilla beans if necessary to keep the macaroons kosher. Dulce de leche is our choice for making these extra chewy and creamy, though you can substitute sweetened condensed milk (try this recipe for making it at home!) to keep the cookies coconut-white.
Easy, Light, and Tender Honey-Vanilla Almond Cake
Ground whole almonds or store-bought almond meal serves as a flavorful stand-in for wheat flour in this pretty cake, made surprisingly airy with egg whites whipped to soft peaks. A little acid in the form of lemon juice helps to stabilize the whites before they're mixed into the batter, and honey gives it a comforting sticky sweetness. This recipe calls for butter to grease the pan, but you could easily swap it out for oil to make this a parve dessert.
Flourless Orange-Saffron Cake
Like the honey cake just above, this Middle Eastern–inspired flourless cake is made with ground almonds, but its unbelievable moistness comes from an unexpected addition: puréed whole oranges. Softening them in the microwave makes it easier to blend them, rinds and all, into a paste, which we then whisk into the other ingredients. Vibrant red saffron threads and a honey glaze give the dessert wonderful color and fragrance.
Saffron, Honey, and Orange Ice Cream
This unusual but totally delicious ice cream is like the frosty cousin of the cake above—a smooth, creamy custard tinted pale orange from saffron, lightly sweetened with floral honey, with citrusy and slightly bitter notes from orange zest. We recommend a mildly flavored honey, such as acacia, alfalfa, or orange blossom, that won't overwhelm the other ingredients.
Creamy Whipped Greek Yogurt
Looking for a tasty dairy dessert that's about as easy as it gets? Whipping Greek yogurt using a stand mixer may sound a little too simple, but the texture it takes on—like a hybrid of thick yogurt and fluffy whipped cream—is to die for, especially when layered with fresh or roasted fruit. Heavy cream thickens the yogurt, while a touch of honey lends gentle sweetness and rosewater or vanilla bean adds flavor.
Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
Chocoholics will love these light little meringue cookies, which put the bittersweet flavor of high-quality dark chocolate front and center. Making the meringue itself constitutes the lion's share of the work here, and even that isn't as tough as you might think if you're new to the process—our tests have shown that even if a dab of yolk makes its way into the bowl, your egg whites will still whip up just fine.
An old-fashioned apple compote makes an elegant dish on its own, or a perfect accompaniment to other desserts, whether it's Passover or not. Poaching the peeled and sliced apples in both cider and cider vinegar fortifies their flavor, and the right blend of aromatics—nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest, and ginger—helps enhance their aroma. The slow, gentle poaching ensures the fruit turns out tender, not mushy.
Sweet, buttery Ataúlfo mangoes are in season this time of year, so Passover is the ideal occasion to make a batch of this simple yet devastatingly good sorbet—all it takes is mangoes, lime juice, sugar, and a little salt. Thanks to the high ratio of fruit to water, the sorbet churns up extremely rich and creamy, with a beautiful deep-golden color.
Pear, Riesling, and Ginger Sorbet
The sophisticated flavor profile of this sorbet is built on the unexpected combination of mild, fruity pear; sweet-and-tart Riesling; and spicy ginger—a little less unexpected, perhaps, when you remember that pears poached in wine is a classic Continental dessert. Look for a moderately sweet Riesling with an alcohol content of around 12%. The amount of ginger called for here is enough to give the sorbet a nice kick, although you can cut it down a little if you prefer.