The celebration at the end of the annual Torah reading cycle is called "Simchat Torah." It's a party with dancing, festive foods, and general merriment. As soon as the last portion of the Torah is read, we rewind the scroll and read a bit from the first portion, signalling the beginning of the next year's cycle.
This year, Simchat Torah is celebrated on Wednesday night and Thursday (for Israelis) or Thursday night and Friday, October 4-5, 2007 (for those living outside Israel.)We begin the annual Torah reading cycle again this coming weekend (Saturday, October 6, 2007) with Parshat Beraisheet (the first section in the book of Genesis - "In the beginning...")
For a few months into the cycle, our family serves cakes (and sometimes other desserts or menu items) that reflect the theme of the week's Torah portion. (Some pictures of my previous "Parshat HaShavua Cakes ©" are available on the sidebar of this website - scroll down to see the links.)
This usually lasts through mid-Winter, until the onslaught of the cooking-intensive holidays of Purim and Passover. The themes of the first two books, Genesis and Exodus, are also easy to represent graphically. After that, there are plenty of edible symbols through the end of the academic year.
So, this weekend, we're serving "Creation Cookies", which represent "Let there be Light."
I developed the cookie part of this recipe because I needed a pareve, vegan, "healthy fat" dessert to accommodate some of our guests this week. I was asked not to use regular margarine.
If you have no dietary restraints, feel free to substitute any cake-like cookie recipe for this one, and decorate according to the instructions.
Try to use a cookie recipe that is not too sweet, as the frostings are very sweet. I'd serve them with fruit, to contrast their sweetness.
Here you can see some of the five batches of cookies I made that didn't work out. True to the idea of "living the parsha", it took me six batches (akin to the six days of Creation) to work out a recipe I liked. Maybe this is analogous to the midrash about many worlds created and destroyed before this one?
Ingredients for cookie batter:
- 1 lb. (16 oz.) Smart Balance margarine (This might work with 'normal' margarine, but I haven't tried it. The recipe was developed with this specific brand of margarine in mind. I made two bathes, and it worked with both the Omega3 and the "light" varieties.)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, gently packed
Ingredients for frostings:
- 3 cups confection sugar
- .25 cup hot water
- 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
Equipment: I used a food processor, silicone pan liners, (cookie sheets,) and a tablespoon-sized portion scoop. In lieu of the pan liners, I assume parchment paper could be used. The portion scoop is a sanity saver, but a pair of spoons would make an adequate substitute.
Instructions for making the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.
- Cream the margarine and sugar.
- Add the salt and flour. Mix well. The batter will be fluffy and sticky.
- Drop tablespoons of batter onto prepared lined pans, leaving 1" all around for the cookies to spread during baking.
- Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will spread and stiffen slightly. The bottoms will not be browned. Do not over bake. (I'm holding up the bottom of the cookie to the camera in this picture:)
- Remove to racks to cool.
Instructions for decorating the cookies:
- Prepare enough supported sheets of waxed paper to hold the completed cookies. I like to put the waxed paper on room-temperature cookie sheets for easy transport.
- Make the white frosting: Stir the hot water into 2 cups of the confection sugar, mixing vigorously to remove lumps. Add the remaining cup of confection sugar in stages, incorporating completely between additions.
- When the cookies have almost cooled, frost a little more than half of each cookie with the white frosting, using a spoon to draw a diameter of frosting, and working from this line to the perimeter/outside edge of the cookie.
- If the cookie is not circular, it can be trimmed before frosting is applied.
- Remove any excess or dripping frosting.
- For best results, allow the white frosting to harden for at least an hour. If you're in a rush and must skip this step, prepare for the chocolate part to be messy and frustrating, unless a pastry bag is used.
- Make the dark frosting: Melt the chocolate chips (in the microwave on half power for a minute and a half, over a double boiler, with half an hour on the blech/hotplate, using the heating element of an automatic drip coffee maker - choose your favorite method.)
- With the melted chocolate in a wide-mouthed bowl, dip the part of the cookie that isn't frosted white in the melted chocolate, overlapping the white frosting with the chocolate.
- Set them aside to harden.
Enjoy and "Let there be cake!"