The first time Rachel cooked a meal for her future husband Neil, she made poisson en croute and olive chicken. For dessert, she served mixed berries in a chocolate cup. He didn’t believe her when she said she made them herself.
Early in our dating life, Alan took me to the Hollywood Bowl. I made my killer roast chicken and potatoes and mini asparagus quiches. For dessert, I dipped strawberries in chocolate. He didn’t believe that I made any of it!
As Sephardic Spice Girls, Rachel and I approach the dessert conundrum with serious consideration. It’s an essential part of the meal and no one, no matter how full, ever refuses dessert. We are enamored by the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern approach to dessert—lots of fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts. Sephardic delicacies, including baklava, mazapan, ma’amul, baba tamar, that are made with dried fruit and/or nuts have a healthy slant too.
Don’t get us wrong! Our dessert list also includes decadent European and American desserts like strawberry shortcake, tiramisu, chocolate torte, flan, rice krispy treats, brownies and blondies and other decadent treats. We just try to keep it as balanced and healthy as we can.
In honor of the holiday of Simchat Torah, Rejoicing in the Torah, we made a Sephardic inspired candy board, a reminder of the candy the children receive in the synagogue on this last, most joyous holiday in the the month of Tishrei.
There’s lots of gummy fruits and Jordan almonds, bon bons and jelly beans. There’s fresh figs and dried apricots, Turkish Delight and pistachio halva from our favorite purveyor House of Halva. And the chocolate! (An ode to my grandparents who took me to Sephardi Synagogue on Fletcher Street in Sydney, where they handed every child a huge slab of Cadbury’s chocolate!) We had so much fun with the chocolate! We dipped strawberries and apples and dried orange. We filled foil cups with chocolate and topped some with pomegranate and others with marshmallows.
We are going to let you in on a secret: chocolate covered strawberries are the least difficult, quite impressive and rather delicious dessert you’ll ever make!
It’s so easy to melt that chocolate in a double boiler—just be careful not to splash water in the chocolate—then dip strawberries, apples, dried fruit, nuts, marshmallows, Oreo cookies or whatever you fancy. You’re guaranteed a dessert your friends and family will melt for.
That’s why several decades later, we are still melting chocolate and adding fruit for our desserts.
Rachel’s Chocolate Berry Cups
1 punnet strawberries, washed and drained
2 cups mixed berries, blueberries,
blackberries or raspberries, washed and
1/4 cup orange liqueur, or 2 tablespoons
orange blossom water
24 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 package silver foil cupcake holders
1 container whipped cream
- Place berries in a bowl with liqueur and marinate.
- Over low to medium heat, melt chocolate in a double boiler.
- Using a spoon, carefully drizzle chocolate into the cupcake holders to create a thin shell, making sure to fill in all the folds.
- Place each cup on a baking sheet and place tray in the refrigerator.
- When chocolate has completely hardened, peel the foil off the chocolate, and return to refrigerator.
- Just before serving, spoon some whipped cream into cup and then spoon marinated berries on top.