Desserts usually play a supporting role, capping the meal as dinner or lunch comes to an end.
But on Purim, desserts play a starring role, with the mishloach manot platter often the centrepiece.
People rarely need an excuse to eat sweets, and they welcome Purim because it offers them a licence to indulge.
The nice thing about the holiday is that there is usually a variety of treats in bite-size form. Dessert aficionados can try an assortment of goodies without going overboard.
Nevertheless, many weight-conscious people don’t feel comfortable eating the desserts, because the offerings are too rich. But the platters can also provide lighter fare everybody can enjoy.
Others who might feel excluded are people with celiac disease who can’t eat gluten, and those with wheat sensitivities. Hamantashen are off the menu for them, but there are a variety of desserts that they can consume.
The following treat recipes are suitable for both weight watchers and those with celiac disease. For the latter group, these food items should be served on a separate platter away from gluten goodies.
These recipes come from Rose Reisman Brings Home Spa Desserts: Low Calories Recipes from Top Resorts Made Easy (Andrew and McMeel, 1991). Many of the recipes were later republished in Robert Rose’s Favorite Light Desserts (Robert Rose 1998).
VANILLA ALMOND SNAPS
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 275. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil.
Combine almonds, salt and 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl. In a mixer, beat egg whites and 2 tbsp. sugar until stiff peaks form. Add egg mixture to the almonds and sugar and combine until all the ingredients are blended.
Drop by teaspoons onto the cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Sprinkle with sliced almonds before baking if desired. Makes 2 dozen cookies.
INDIVIDUAL MINIATURE CHEESECAKES
1/2 lb. ricotta or low-fat cream cheese
1/2 lb. cottage cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp. corn starch
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with paper cups for 10 servings.
In a blender, mix cheeses and sugar. Blend until smooth. Add egg and blend.
Add cornstarch, sour cream and vanilla.
Pour mixture into prepared muffin cups. Place muffin tins in a larger pan filled with water and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Chill.
Decorate with fresh fruit or fruit puree or decorate with 2 tbsp. melted red currant jelly. Makes 10 servings
3 egg whites (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 250. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick vegetable spray.
In a mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and salt gradually until they are incorporated and meringue is glossy and stiff. Add vanilla and blend. Fold in cocoa and pecans.
Drop by teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheet or fill a pastry bag with the batter and squeeze into kiss shapes onto the baking sheet. Bake until dry, approximately 1 hour. Makes about 40 1-in. cookies.