Please give me ideas (ideally recipes) for showstopper pareve desserts.
September 3, 2011 3:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm bringing dessert to a Rosh Hashanah dinner next month. In the past I have brought Apple Hill Cake (delicious, but homier than I'm looking for) and regular honey cake. I'll probably still bring a honey cake for tradition's sake, but I'd also like to bring something fancier this time.

Really, the only restriction is "no dairy." But butter, cream cheese, cream and milk are pretty big restrictions when considering desserts.

I baked a lemon rosemary honey olive oil cake today as an experiment, and it was ok, but it was basically just a quickbread... I want something more. Something with some textural interest... maybe including fruit... plums or apples maybe? Maybe Italian meringue for a topping or filling?

I'm a pretty decent baker and don't mind buying specialty ingredients. I'd rather avoid the mocha mix and other fake dairy products.

Can't wait to hear what you guys think. Thanks!
posted by fingersandtoes to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Well, when I read the first paragraph, I thought, "A sweet kugel wold be perfect, my daughters always look forward to it."

But with no dairy, I'd go with a large apple tart. Make it in a pie plate so you can feed a number of people. It looks great, tastes great, and is easy to make.
posted by Argyle at 3:57 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: I always recommend this Almond Clementine cake for things like this. It's absolutely delicious, and if you melt some semi-sweet chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the cooled cake it's as fancy looking as it tastes.
posted by Kololo at 4:10 PM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Make a regular apple batter cake, but with plums arranged in an artful way and maybe macerated briefly in something (amaretto? cognac?). Plums somehow increase the wow factor, but you still get the good ol' taste people are wanting at RH time. I have personally made this recipe with plums on several occasions.

Batter Cake

Fill greased pan (ideally springform for best presentation) with plums, sugar, other spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.) as desired

Mix batter until just blended--do not overmix:

1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
salt (do not omit)

2 eggs
1/2 c. oil
vanilla (amaretto, cognac, etc.)

Drop by spoonfuls onto plums and bake at 325 F until done. Best to let sit overnight.
posted by skbw at 4:13 PM on September 3, 2011

Ooh! Inspired by kololo's post above, I remember that one year I interspersed some pieces of almond paste with the plums. It was great.

LOL on avoiding the mocha mix. Ain't that the truth.
posted by skbw at 4:19 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: Sorry for the repeated posts. It's a serious matter. I see in the title bar you want not just classy, but "showstopper."

In the first Silver Palate cookbook there is a (pareve) yellow cake recipe with white wine (dry, not Sauternes or whatever) that could not be farther from the plain American yellow cake. It is reprinted here, but check the original if at all possible.

Make it, split the layers, add raspberry (or other) jam between (possibly apricot for a poor man's Sachertorte?), put melted semisweet chocolate over the whole thing as a shell, again let sit a night. Could not be easier and is ALSO not particularly rich after a heavy meal. The chocolate shell is not thick and the cake itself is very light and delicate. Again, I have done this one many times.

That said, people may feel some hostility if they can't have apple cake or what have you. The batter cake is quick enough to make that, too.
posted by skbw at 4:29 PM on September 3, 2011

How about a vegan cheesecake (using Kosher graham crackers, margarine, etc.)
posted by essexjan at 4:37 PM on September 3, 2011

If you want a complete showstopper, a macaron tower would be hard to beat.
posted by essexjan at 4:44 PM on September 3, 2011

Flourless chocolate cake. Works for Passover, too.
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:45 PM on September 3, 2011

A friend of mine used to make a checkerboard ice cream cake, with vanilla, chocolate, and honey ice cream squares. It's really not hard to do:
  1. Buy or make the pareve ice cream flavors and (after allowing them to soften slightly) flatten them onto three separate trays in layers around an inch and a half thick.
  2. Use a cake tin or tray to assemble the cake. You can optionally start with a thin layer of honey cake as a base.
  3. Slice each ice cream layer into strips, so that the strips have a roughly square cross section.
  4. Assemble the first ice cream level like so: Chocolate strip, honey strip, vanilla strip.Put the next layer on: Vanilla strip, chocolate strip, honey strip.
  5. Third layer goes next: Honey strip, vanilla strip, chocolate strip.
  6. Put the assembled cake into the freezer to harden again.
  7. When you serve it, cut across the strips of ice cream so that each slice gets a checkerboard of different flavors. The effect's great, and not immediately obvious!

posted by Joe in Australia at 9:16 PM on September 3, 2011

I came into the thread to recommend the same almond clementine cake. Easy and perfect.
posted by judith at 11:03 PM on September 3, 2011

OP, what is the Apple Hill Cake of which you speak? Is it this one from Google?
posted by skbw at 4:37 AM on September 4, 2011

Response by poster: skbw, yes, that's the one, although I think I usually sub in some brown sugar, and maybe have a heavier hand with the spices. It is super moist and delicious (although sometimes the baking soda taste comes through too strong - next time I'm going to experiment with partially substituting baking powder.) It's also very easy, although chopping up the apples takes a while. Sometimes I use even more apples and consider it a member of the baked pudding family. I've made it before for this gathering and it was well received... I just want something more elegant this time. Thank you for the Silver Palate cake idea! I am going to experiment with that - I'm thinking tart jam between the layers; plus frost and and fill with Italian meringue- what do you think?
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:17 AM on September 4, 2011

I have a great loathing for meringue of all kinds, BUT you sound like you know what you're doing, so I'm sure it will go well. We expect a full report!
posted by skbw at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2011

Response by poster: So I made the Silver Palate cake for my husband's birthday, with a raspberry jam layer in the middle and an Italian meringue frosting. The cake was a hit -- a great recipe to have in the repertoire. (The meringue frosting, which was my idea, was good the first day, but the second day it was melty and sticky - I wouldn't make it again unless it was for something that was going to be completely consumed immediately like a small batch of cupcakes.)

My RH hostess eventually told me what she wanted, which was, unequivocally, honey cake. So I made this honey cake but with half a cup less of white sugar (because the amount in the recipe just seemed like too much.) It was good but I actually did miss the sugar. I added a glaze made of powdered sugar, honey, orange juice concentrate and orange liqueur to make it a little more special and I think it worked.

Thank you so much to everyone who made suggestions, especially skbw!
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:14 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also I made the batter cake with plums and some lemon zest added for another party and it was delicious, another great recipe to have on hand.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:31 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

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