ORANGE-SCENTED ALMOND-HAZELNUT MACAROONS

Makes about 30 macaroons.

Note: Home-baked macaroons made with freshly ground nuts are far more enticing and delicious than packaged ones. To keep them moist, use this trick I learned at La Varenne cooking school in Paris: bake them on a paper-lined baking sheet and pour a little water under the paper before removing the cookies from the sheet. These macaroons, flavored with orange zest and vanilla sugar, are great as an accompaniment for fresh fruit salad or with coffee or tea. If you prefer, you can make them with all almonds or all hazelnuts

• 11/4 c. blanched almonds, either whole or slivered

• 1 c. hazelnuts

• 11/2 c. sugar, divided

• 3 egg whites

• 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

Directions

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet, shaking the sheet once or twice, about 8 minutes or until their skins begin to split. Transfer to a strainer. While nuts are hot, remove most of skins by rubbing nuts energetically with a towel against strainer. Cool nuts completely.

Move rack to upper third of oven; leave oven temperature at 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or waxed paper; grease paper lightly with margarine.

Grind almonds and hazelnuts with 4 tablespoons sugar in food processor until mixture forms fine, even crumbs. Add egg whites and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add remaining sugar in 2 additions and process about 10 seconds after each or until smooth. Add grated orange zest and process briefly.

With moistened hands, roll about 1 tablespoon mixture between your palms to a smooth ball. Put on prepared baking sheet. Continue shaping macaroons, spacing them 1 inch apart.

Press each macaroon to flatten it slightly so it is about 1/2 inch high. Brush entire surface of each macaroon with water. If both baking sheets don't fit on rack, bake them one at a time. Bake macaroons until very lightly but evenly browned, 18 to 20 minutes; centers should still be soft. Remove from oven.

Lift one end of paper and pour about 2 tablespoons water under it, onto baking sheet; water will boil on contact with hot baking sheet. Lift other end of paper and pour about 2 tablespoons water under it. When water stops boiling, remove macaroons carefully from paper. Transfer to a rack to cool. Keep them in airtight containers.

Nutrition information per macaroon:

Calories 104 Fat 6 g Sodium 7 mg

Carbohydrates 12 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 19 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 other carb, 1 fat.

PASSOVER CHOCOLATE CINNAMON BROWNIES WITH ALMONDS

Makes 20 to 24 brownies.

Note: These dark, very chocolate brownies are moist and tasty, so that even a small one satisfies as a sweet treat after dinner.

• 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

• 3 tbsp. (11/2 oz.) unsalted butter or margarine, cut in pieces

• 1/2 c. brown sugar

• 1/2 c. granulated sugar

• 3 eggs

• 5 tbsp. light olive oil or vegetable oil

• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• 3/4 c. matzo meal

• 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 2/3 c. chopped almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square 9-inch cake pan. Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over hot water. Stir until smooth. Remove from water; cool 5 minutes.

Soften butter. In mixer, beat butter with brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs until very light and fluffy. Add oil, cinnamon, salt, matzo meal, cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Beat slowly to combine. Stir in almonds.

Spoon batter into pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the color has changed evenly on top and a cake tester or toothpick inserted 2 inches from center comes out dry. Do not overbake. Cool in pan. Cut in squares. Serve at room temperature.

Nutrition information per brownie (of 24):

Calories 148 Fat 9 g Saturated fat 3 g Sodium 22 mg

Carbohydrates 17 g Calcium 21 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 30 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 2 fat.

PASSOVER CHEESECAKE

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: Although dairy desserts would not appear on a kosher Seder menu that features meat, Passover is an eight-day holiday and there are plenty of occasions to enjoy cheesecake. Instead of a crust made of graham crackers, which are not kosher for Passover, the base of this luscious, creamy cheesecake is a buttery macaroon crust. The cheese filling is flavored with fresh lemon zest instead of vanilla extract. Many kosher cooks avoid vanilla because the extract is usually made with grain-based alcohol, which is not kosher for Passover. Milk and cottage cheese that are labeled as kosher for Passover have an extra degree of rabbinical supervision but in the kitchen are no different from their usual versions.

• 1 1/4 c. macaroon crumbs

• 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

• 1 lb. cream cheese, cut in pieces and softened

• 2 c. sour cream, divided

• 3/4 c. plus 3 tbsp. sugar, divided

• 3 eggs

• Grated zest of 1 large lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make macaroon crumb, process macaroons in a food processor to fine crumbs; or put them in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin, then measure 11/4 cups. Add melted butter and mix well. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan. Press macaroon mixture in an even layer on bottom and about 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Leave oven at 350 degrees.

Beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sour cream at low speed until very smooth. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar. Beat in eggs, one by one. Beat in lemon zest. Carefully pour filling into cooled crust and bake about 45 minutes or until firm in center. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.

To make topping, mix remaining 11/2 cups sour cream with 3 tablespoons sugar. Carefully spread topping on cake, in an even layer, without letting it drip over crust. Return cake to oven and bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Remove sides of springform pan just before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 575 Fat 41 g Sodium 300 mg

Carbohydrates 47 g Saturated fat 22 g Calcium 93 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 160 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 other carb, 1 medium-fat meat, 7 fat.

PECAN AND CHOCOLATE CHIP MERINGUES

Makes about 36 meringues.

Note: Kosher for Passover chocolate chips are available at many supermarkets. If you can't find them, you can cut bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in very small cubes to make these crunchy cookies. For meatless meals, these meringues are delicious served with a bowl of whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

• Matzo cake meal (for flouring pan)

• 6 egg whites

• Pinch of salt

• 11/2 c. sugar, divided

• 3/4 c. coarsely chopped pecans

• 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Lightly grease corners of 2 baking sheets with margarine and line them with foil. Grease and lightly flour foil with matzo cake meal, tapping baking sheet to remove excess.

Whip egg whites with salt in a large bowl until stiff. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar at high speed and whip until whites are very shiny.

Gently fold in remaining3/4 cup sugar in 2 batches, as quickly as possible. Quickly fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Spoon mixture in irregular mounds onto prepared baking sheets, using 1 mounded tablespoon for each and spacing them about 11/2 inches apart.

Bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Bake 30 minutes or until meringues are firm to touch, dry at bases and can be easily removed from foil. They will be light beige.

Transfer meringues to a rack and cool. Put them in airtight container as soon as they are cool.

Nutrition information per meringue:

Calories 73 Fat 3 g Sodium 18 mg

Carbohydrates 12 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 4 mg

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 other carb, 1/2 fat.

WALNUT COCOA LAYER CAKE

Serves 12.

Note: If you're serving this after a meatless meal, you might want to make the frosting with butter instead of margarine. For a festive presentation, serve the cake slices with fresh strawberries and a sauce made of sweetened berry purée.

• 31/2 c. walnuts

• 11/2 c. sugar, divided

• 5 tbsp. matzo cake meal or sifted matzo meal

• 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 6 eggs, separated, room temperature

• Passover Orange Frosting and Filling (see recipe)

• 3 tbsp. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using margarine, grease two 9-inch round cake pans, about 11/2 inches deep. Line base of each with parchment paper or foil and grease parchment or foil. Use a little matzo cake meal to flour sides of pans and lined bases, tapping to remove excess.

In a food processor, grind 13/4 cups walnuts with 1/4 cup sugar to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining walnuts and another 1/4 cup sugar. Sift cake meal with cocoa. Add to nut mixture and stir until blended.

Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl about 5 minutes or until mixture is pale yellow and very thick.

Beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and whip at high speed about 1/2 minute until whites are very stiff and shiny but not dry. Sprinkle 1/3 of nut mixture over yolks and fold gently until nearly blended. Spoon 1/3 of whites on top and fold gently. Repeat until all of nut mixture and whites are added. Fold just until blended.

Pour into prepared pans and spread quickly. Bake about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Set a rack on each pan, turn over and leave upside down for 10 minutes, with pan still on each cake. Turn back over. Run a metal spatula around sides of each cake. Turn out onto racks, carefully peel off paper and let cool completely.

Spread about 1/3 of frosting on one cake layer. Set second layer on top. Carefully trim top layer if necessary, using a serrated knife. Spread frosting in thin layer on cake sides, last on top. Smooth frosting with a long metal spatula. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 520 Fat 38 g Sodium 37 mg

Carbohydrates 42 g Saturated fat 5 g Calcium 46 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 110 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 other carb, 1 medium-fat meat, 61/2 fat.

PASSOVER ORANGE FROSTING AND FILLING

Makes enough to fill and frost a 9-inch two-layer cake.

Note: Frostings for Passover are made with granulated or superfine sugar rather than powdered sugar, which usually contains cornstarch and thus is not allowed during the holiday. The rabbis have extended the rule against using flour to all grains and thus corn and products derived from it are forbidden.

• 1 c. (8 oz.) unsalted margarine or butter

•1/2 c. superfine sugar

• 1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest

• 1/4 c. fresh strained orange juice

Directions

Soften margarine. Beat margarine and sugar until smooth. Add grated orange zest. Gradually beat in juice. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread on cake immediately.