The Seder is a meal of ritual. While there can be some playing around with the menu, sacrosanct are the serving of matzo ball soup and the absence of flour in any recipe.
Never a fan of the matzo ball, I handed off this part of the meal for many years to a friend's mother, who was delighted to bring her specialty to the table. Sadly, Sibi died and with her went the best matzo ball soup in the world, this according to my family. Sibi's replacement soup provider arrives with two pots still bubbling from her stove, as well as her own ladle. Such preparedness is my own little prayer answered.
Baking a flourless dessert is, thankfully, not the hassle of years ago.
This recipe from Country Living magazine is my go-to. It's a cake so delicious as to deserve an appearance more than once a year.
Special equipment: a spring form cake pan
2 sticks unsalted butter cut into small pieces
9 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup superfine sugar
½ cup fined ground almonds
· Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10" spring form cake pan.
· In a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until smooth. Set bowl aside to cool.
· In another bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture, stirring constantly. Now, fold in the almonds. Set bowl aside.
· In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined.
· Pour this mixture into the spring form pan and bake for 35 minutes. (torte will be very moist in the middle).
· Cool in the pan about 1 hour. Then undo spring form. Now you have the torte on the pan bottom. Slide a spatula (or long piece of dental floss) to loosen the torte from the bottom. Then use the spatula to push/slide the torte onto a serving plate.
In a corner of the dining room is the dessert table. The torte offers a wonderful landscape for a plop of whipped cream with a sprinkle of blackberries and raspberries.
For those who believe fruit is dessert -- a peach compote with a side of macaroon. Fresh mint is a pretty topper for both desserts.
With the meal in hand, I can revel in setting the table with an heirloom embroidered cloth, not of my own inheritance, but of a purchase at a second hand store. Cast off by one family, it is a part of my family's holiday table.
Such beauty reminds me of the importance of remembering those who once graced our tables at holidays and how filling their seats with new families and friends is a testament to their memories... like a good matzo ball, gone but never forgotten.