The typical Passover Seder meal is a minefield of familial politics. Jackie Mason could base a stand-up routine on it: “I want the soup but no chicken in it; matzo balls but soft, not hard, ones; tzimmes but no prunes; brisket but just a little and just a thin slice; some potato kugel but not touching the brisket gravy; salad with the light dressing in a separate container; and I want fish but after the soup and before the meat. And I want it on the side!”
This is a Big Meal, an important meal and one wherein it is not unusual to feature a couple of different examples of a similar dish from several different contributors. Choose one dish over another, express a preference at this one’s brisket (‘so moist and not fatty!’) and you stand to gain or lose a relative. No one keeps a written record, but count on it-people remember who ate what. Passover begins at sundown April 7.
Real stand-offs occur when there are two of the same thing but done differently-like a traditional kugel and a tofu one, or gefilte fish from a kosher deli and a hopeful, from-scratch edition, undertaken when someone (usually plucky and 30-something), in a bold and whimsical pre-Passover moment, takes a chance and tries his hand at gefilte fish and fresh horseradish. This settled, the dispute continues to the chicken soup and matzo ball issue. And so it goes.
Until dessert. For dessert, it is not so much “who brought, who bought?'-it’s a matter of what is good. And what is always good, always welcome, especially at Passover, is chocolate.
The happy news for those who swoon at chocolate in its many guises on any occasion is that it is an exceptionally good choice at Passover. Richly flavored, pure in taste, chocolate-based Passover cakes, squares and confections deliver a good hit of dessert pleasure, bringing sweet but unmistakable closure to the Seder meal. Fresh fruit is refreshing, but no matter what people tell you about being “so full,” they still want a great, traditional dessert.
While we tend to be tolerant of Passover desserts because of the difficult criteria they must meet (no leavenings, usually no butter or other dairy products, no liquid vanilla or other alcohol-based extracts and, most of all, no wheat flour), everyone raves when you hit pay dirt with an exceptional creation. “Are you sure it’s a Passover cake?” is the highest accolade a Passover dessert can elicit.
The easiest way to achieve this is to give in to the inevitable chocolate conclusion. Chocolate does Passover better than any other ingredient, so showcase it-in brownies, truffles, tortes and cakes, and an outstanding, luscious chocolate buttercream roll. No excuses need be served with these treats--they are welcome on any table, at any time of year.