This week we celebrate Pesach, or Passover: a time of liberation. Though it’s really a joyful holiday, because we’re Jewish we have to bring a little deprivation and suffering into it. We’re not allowed to eat leavened bread, a reminder of the Israelites’ passage through the desert on their flight toward freedom. Thus, the ubiquitous package of matzo makes its appearance, a foodstuff that, as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show puts it, tastes like the cardboard box it comes in.
Yet, we’ve come up with all kinds of way to bypass the suffering while sticking to the letter of the law. Case in point: Passover Puffs. Passover Puffs are little miracles. They are sweet and light and airy, with nary a leavening agent in sight. They are eggy and delicious, especially when you stuff them with your Passover dinner: a chuck roast stewed in oranges and dates, say, or chicken roasted with apples and onions. You could even pump them full of whipped cream (if you forego the meat dinner) and call them cream puffs.
I make Passover Puffs just once a year, at Passover of course, and they are what make the day particularly special. They are especially good just out of the oven, when you pull apart a test puff to release the steamy goodness. Sometimes you have to test two or three to make sure you’ve gotten them right. They disappear in your mouth.
You still have several days left of Passover to make these, even if you’re not Jewish. I think they’d be great with an Easter meal too. They remind us of how we can combine the right ingredients in just the right way to make for transcendence.
Preheat oven to 375.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil, then add 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Bring back to a boil and remove from heat.
Mix together 1 1/2 cups of Matzo meal, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and add this to the pot. Stir together to moisten and let sit for five minutes. Transfer dough to large mixing bowl, and let cool for five more minutes.
Beat in four eggs one at a time, using an electric mixer at medium speed. The mixer will clog up with the thick dough. You have to be patient. Think of your ancestors in the desert. Persevere.
Using two spoons, drop ball of dough on greased cookie sheets (it’s supposed to make 18, but I always only get 12.) Flatten each ball slightly and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until balls are puffed up and golden. Eat a few right away to experience the miracle. Save the rest for your good friends.
What kind of food do you make this time of year that makes the season special? Please share with us in the comments!