As all its loyal fans will tell you, there is only one place to go in New York City for great pareve desserts: Doris Schechter's My Most Favorite Dessert Company. For more than twenty years, Doris has provided her customers with delectable cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, and muffins proving that dairy-free desserts can be delicious.
With this book, Doris shares the secrets of her renowned pareve baking, offering more than ninety recipes that can be made easily in any home kitchen. Forget the disappointing pareve cakes and cookies you may have endured in the past: these are rich, indulgent desserts worthy of even the most special celebrations. From an old-fashioned Apple Cake to a sophisticated Velvet Chocolate Cake to traditional holiday favorites (including an entire chapter on Passover baking), Doris provides recipes you'll love to bake, serve, and enjoy year after year. Illustrated with sixteen pages of lush color photos, My Most Favorite Dessert Company Cookbook will tantalize, tempt, and teach kosher bakers and sweets-lovers alike.
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About the Author
Doris Schechter was born in Vienna to Jewish parents. Forced to flee Austria for Italy, she and her family eventually settled in the United States. In 1982 she opened My Most Favorite Dessert Company in Great Neck, New York, and in 1986 moved the bakery to Manhattan, where it is now combined with a restaurant. Doris lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
When I baked my first Viennese Linzertorte (page 85), I could not believe how beautiful it was. I feel exactly the same way about these Linzer cookies. They are like little jewels, with their ruby centers of raspberry preserves. You can also fill them with apricot jam, which is equally pretty. The almond dough is short, meaning it is rich, and it is sweet and melts in your mouth. These cookies are among my all-time favorites.
1 cup all-purpose flour
Large pinch of ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely ground unblanched almonds
Raspberry preserves, with or without seeds
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. In a bowl stir together the flour and cinnamon.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and the granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy.
3. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough comes together in a ball. Add the ground almonds and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, shape the dough into a disk, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours until firm enough to roll out.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. With a 2 1/4-Inch fluted cookie cutter, cut outrounds and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. (When done, you should have about 24 cutouts in all.) Cut out the center of half the cookies, 12 of them, using the wide end of a 3/4-inch-wide pastry bag tip. They will be the "top" cookies. Discard the little bits of cutout dough.
6. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until fragrant and just set. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool.
7. To assemble: Sprinkle the cutout (top) 12 cookies generously with confectioners' sugar and reserve. Place a level teaspoon of raspberry preserves on each of the bottom cookies. Place a sugared cutout on top. Store, in a single layer, in an airtight container for up to I week, if you are lucky enough to have them for that long.
Makes 1 dozen cookies
Velvet Chocolate Cake
Here is another of my signature desserts. Twenty-four ounces of chocolate make it intensely rich and delicious, almost more like candy than cake. Despite that, I am never surprised when guests ask for Just a "sliver" more. Recently I heard a funny anecdote: A woman confided to her good friend that the only reason she is able to sit through a family seder she goes to is that she knows she will be rewarded with a slice (or two) of this fabulous flourless chocolate cake!
1 1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate, chopped
15 tablespoons unsalted margarine, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee
8 extra-large eggs, separated, the whites at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Confectioners' sugar for stenciling
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan, 3 inches deep. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the pan and line the pan with it.
2. In the top of a large double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate with the margarine and instant coffee, stirring, until smooth and glossy. Remove the top of the boiler and let the mixture cool slightly.
3. Stir in the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed to soft peaks. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites stand in stiff but not dry peaks.
5. With a rubber spatula, stir about one-quarter of the whites into the chocolate base to lighten it. Fold the remaining whites in gently but thoroughly, mixing until no streaks of beaten whites show.
6. Pour the batter into the pan. Place the cake pan in a larger baking pan and pour hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Carefully transfer the pans to the oven and bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes (the top of the cake in the center will just be set). Remove the baking pan from the oven, remove the cake pan from the water bath, and let it cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature. Transfer the cake in the pan to the refrigerator and chill overnight or until serving time.
7. Unmold the chilled cake, remove the paper liner, and invert the cake right side up. Do not try to unmold the cake before it is fully chilled or it will break. Place a decorative stencil on top of the cake and dust confectioners' sugar through a fine-meshed sieve over the top. Carefully remove the stencil.
8. Serve the cake in slices. Some people love it with fresh raspberries as a garnish. (The cake can also be served at room temperature, although it will be softer.) The cake keeps, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Makes one 18-inch cake, 12 to 14 servings
My Most Favorite Dessert Company Cookbook. Copyright © by Doris Schechter. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
RecipePumpkin Walnut Loaf
Makes one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf; 8 to 10 servings
When My Most Favorite Dessert Company opened on Madison Avenue in 1986, one of the first reviews we received was by Florence Fabricant in The New York Times. She loved our pumpkin bread, and that Thanksgiving season, thanks to her write-up, our pumpkin breads flew out the door.
This pumpkin loaf is rich-tasting and moist, thanks to an unusual ingredient: soy milk. I'd be surprised if any one detects it. I can't. I like using Organic Vanilla Soy Milk by EdenSoy, which is available in some supermarkets and many health-food stores. It is pareve, as you will see from the label, and can be used as a substitute for milk.
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (Libby's Pumpkin -- not pie filling)
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (see headnote)
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and line the pan with it. Do not grease the paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and the sugar on medium speed until fluffy.
- With the machine running, add the eggs, all at one time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- With the machine on medium speed, add the pumpkin and beat until combined.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, alternating with the soy milk, until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir in the walnuts by hand.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the loaf and remove the paper liner. (If the loaf does not unmold immediately, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert again, at which point the loaf should drop out.) Place it right side up on the rack to cool completely. To store the loaf, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
To Defrost: On the day you plan to serve the loaf, remove it from the freezer, unwrap it completely, and let it stand at room temperature until ready to serve.
My Most Favorite Brownies
Makes one 11 1/2 x 7 1/2-inch pan; 2 1/2 pounds brownies, or 12 large pieces
There are several signature desserts at My Most Favorite Dessert Company, and one of them is brownies. No one makes a pareve brownie that even comes close to these. Our customers always asks what makes them so good. I think it is the pure chocolate and the addition of chocolate chips that make them especially gooey, chewy, and rich, a little like candy bars. They also stand higher than regular brownies, which adds to their appeal. Make sure to use the best-quality chocolate you can. I use Bloomer's chocolate, which I buy wholesale.
This is exactly how we make them, right down to the pan size. Since some people like to bake brownies in a square pan, the directions appear in the Note. Brownies freeze beautifully. A Little Piece of Advice tells you how to freeze the brownies. If you ever need a quick chocolate fix, a frozen brownie is the way to go.
Note: If using a 9-inch square baking pan, bake for 45 to 50 minutes for fudgy brownies, the only kind.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted margarine, cut into pieces
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 11 1/2 x 7 1/2-inch baking pan.
- In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring to blend.
- In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, combine the margarine and coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and shiny. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the top of the double boiler, and let the mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, eggs, and cooled chocolate mixture. Beat on medium speed until well mixed. Blend in the vanilla.
- Turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients at one time, and blend on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the chocolate chips and the optional nuts.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and level the top. Bake for 35 minutes for fudgy brownies -- a cake tester inserted in the center of one will come out with some batter on it. Do not overbake. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack and let it cool slightly. These brownies are fantastic served while still warm, and they are just as good at room temperature. Keep, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze as directed below.
Let the brownies cool completely. Then place the pan, uncovered, in the freezer and let the brownies freeze until solid. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and slide it into a Ziploc freezer bag. Then bag it a second time. Return the pan to the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months.
To thaw: Remove the pan from the freezer and uncover completely. Let stand at room temperature until ready to serve.
Oma's Hazelnut Torte
Here is the quintessential Passover nut cake, the one I remember from my childhood. Oma means grandmother in German, and while Grandma Leah never passed her recipe along to me, this is very close to the one she would make for the family on Passover year after year. The hazelnuts made it special then, and now.
5 large eggs, separated, the whites at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and very finely ground
1/4 cup matzo cake meal
Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until triple in volume. Fold in the hazelnuts and the cake meal until fully incorporated.
- Place the egg whites and the salt in a large bowl. With a hand-held electric mixer, beat the whites on high speed until they hold stiff but not dry peaks. Stir one quarter of the beaten whites into the yolk moisture to lighten it, then with a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks of white show.
- Scrape the batter lightly into the cake pan and level the top. Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the cake, turn it right side up, and let it cool completely on the rack. To serve, place the cake on a cake plate or stand. Store leftover cake, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for the length of the holiday.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I first started baking as a hobby, this was one of the books that I checked out from my local library. I renewed the book so many times that I finally realized I should own it. All of the recipes are delicious, and the side notes are all very helpful too. Enjoy!!