With Chanukah coming up, my mind is turning to sweet treats: crispy doughnuts and cookies. I don’t make frosted cookies, but I do make frosted cakes, and in the past, I had always bought my frosting ready-made in a tub. In looking at plastic packaging I could eliminate, that seemed like a good candidate because a frosted cake is part of most of our Shabbos meals. I just couldn’t find a parve frosting recipe that worked. They either involved more steps than I have time for or were based on heavy cream, which doesn’t have a great parve substitute. Coconut cream is one possibility, but it’s not a flavor my family loves. And then I discovered ganache: easy and made from ingredients I keep in the house. I played around with a few recipes until I came up with this one, which is a little thicker than a traditional ganache. It will make the right amount to generously cover an 8” or 9” round or an 8” x8” square. If you want it a little thinner, so you pour it on like a traditional ganache, just increase the non-dairy milk as noted.
Thick and Luscious Ganache
- 1 ½ cup parve chocolate chips
- ½ cup non-dairy milk (I prefer almond) or ¾ cup for a thinner ganache
Step 1: Warm chocolate chips and non-dairy milk over medium flame, stirring constantly.
Step 2: When the chocolate is melted, reduce heat to low and whisk until ganache is glossy and smooth.
That’s all there is to it! I’ve also played around with adding a teaspoon of vanilla or another extract with good results.
We will keep about 45 to 50 plastic containers out of a landfill per year with this one simple switch. While those containers may recycle where you live, they can only be downcycled , not truly recycled like glass or aluminum. We do, of course, buy the ingredients, but we can recycle the cartons and bags of parve chocolate chips use much less plastic packaging. And, after searching on the internet for bulk parve chocolate chips without success, I finally followed the advice offered in a few low-waste books and asked my local kosher baker if they would sell me chocolate chips in bulk. I have to admit, it took me a while to get myself to ask, but the response was a quick yes. (Oh Nuts! sells a thirty-two ounce bog on its site.)
For Chanukah, I’ll make a thinner version for the kids to dunk their doughnuts in. It will probably be messy, but the fun will be worth it. (They’ve already started putting in their orders for what kind of doughnuts they want me to make.)
The kitchen is one of the best places to start cutting waste because so much of what winds up in landfills is food waste. One of the easiest ways to cut food waste is by planning dishes around what you already have in the house rather than from recipes. Here are a few ideas from recent desserts I have made using leftover ingredients or ingredients I didn’t have a plan for that might have sat around until they went bad. In matters of mitzvot, “L’fum tzara agra,” as we learn in Pirkei Avos, but in matters of low-waste desserts, just a little extra effort can yield delicious and planet-friendly rewards.
Most people know that overripe bananas can be used to make a banana cake, banana bread, or breakfast muffins. Go ahead and try using pears that are too ripe, and other fruits as well. Just puree and mix in as a replacement for some of the oil or an egg in your recipe.
We don’t often buy soda. We always get a few bottles as a Pesach treat and on the occasional Shabbos. Since my kids aren’t used to having it, they don’t go looking to drink it in the middle of the week, so what was left of a two-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper I bought for a recent Shabbos went flat before it was finished. I had heard of Coca-Cola cake, so I knew I could swap soda for water. I poked around in the pantry to see if I could find any inspiration and came up with a can of cherries (in juice, not in syrup) that I have no recollection of ever buying. My best guess is that it came in a mishloach manos package or my mother-in-law brought it. She doesn’t like to arrive without gifts! After a few minutes of googling, I found a cherry cake that looked like it would come out well in a parve incarnation. And indeed, the resulting (after some tweaks and substitutions) Dr. Pepper cherry cake was one of the moistest, most delicious desserts I’ve ever baked.
That same week, I retooled a recipe I used when clearing out my freezer before Pesach. Instead of strawberries, I used frozen peaches. The puff pastry was left over in the freezer from the last two times I made deli roll for Shabbos. It’s just orange marmalade, peaches, and pastry, baked 35 minutes at 350 degrees. (If I make this again, I will chop the peach slices into smaller chunks and make enclosed pockets.)
Of course, not all my experiments work out this well, but all but one or two have been good enough to serve on Shabbos or package up as snacks during the week.
I hope to have another post before Chanukah, but just in case I don’t, I will wish you and your family a Chanukah Sameach!
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