Chocolate Cheesecake Pie: Passover and Gluten Free Friendly Dessert

Finished Pie. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak.

If you are over the age of 25,  Jewish, and were born sometime in April, you grew up hating your birthday. Why? Passover birthday cake.

As a child, I had to suffer year after year with the same cardboard brick-like excuse for a cake that was “Passover-friendly”, and it was terrible.

Luckily for us Aries and Taurus kids, there have been vast improvements in the world of Kosher for Passover desserts in the last decade. No longer must we endure having to force down the potato starch-matzo meal cake…we have options. Flourless cakes, mousses and tortes are now available come holiday time and all I have to say is thank goodness.

Now, I could be wrong, but I think that a major contributing factor the emergence of these new Passover options is due (at least in part) to the ever-growing need for allergen-friendly desserts, i.e. gluten-free cakes.

Dietary restrictions such as gluten, egg, dairy and sugar-free  have forced amateur and professional bakers alike to rethink dessert- challenging us to find ways to forgo these ingredients and find replacements that will result in an equally, or at least, comparable final product.

Passover and gluten-free desserts are much related in their need to be flourless.

When I am creating a new Passover recipe, I try to leave out things like matzo meal so that I can stick to the flourless form of dessert, sort of trying to kill two birds with one stone.

Tortes are easy enough to make gluten free, as they generally contain little to no flour. Any flour component I simply replace with almond flour or almond meal- a common ingredient in gluten-free baking.

This year, when conjuring up K.F.P. desserts, I wanted to try something new: pie. I love pie, and I wanted to make one that would be Passover-friendly, and gluten-free at the same time, and above all, easy to make.

Step 1-Find a suitable crust.

Obviously for Passover pie, pie dough would not do. I immediately thought of using a crumb crust, like the graham crust of a cheesecake. Nut crusts are common in patsry, so I thought why not use ground almonds ( a.k.a almond meal) in place of graham crumbs?

Success! Not only does the almond meal have the right texture for a crumb crust, but it also has a fantastic flavour.

Next step: the filling.

There’s so much going on come Passover time; fifty things in the oven, limited space etc. I wanted this pie to be as no-fuss as possible.

That meant I had to go no-bake. Enter chocolate.

Chocolate is often used in no-bake desserts because it lends structure to fillings as it sets at room temperature. By adding melted chocolate to a base and whipping it, you essentially create a form of mousse.

Since cheesecake was where I drew inspiration for my crust, I thought it only fitting that it should inspire my filling as well.

So without further ado, I give you the Passover/ Gluten-free Chocolate Cheesecake Pie. This is really the simplest dessert you will ever make in your life. Another bonus: you can make this in dairy version, or dairy free.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1.5 cups ground almonds or almond meal.
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, or margarine for dairy-free.
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Filling:

  • 250 grams (1 package) cream cheese or Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese ( available at in most Kosher sections of your grocery store, or in health food stores)
  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup sugar

To make the crust:

Mix the almond meal with the sugar. Stir in the melted butter. You want the mixture to clump together and hold. Use more butter if necessary.

Dumb the mixture into a 9″ pie tin or plate and press down to make firm, going up the sides.

Almond Crust, unbaked. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak
Almond Crust, unbaked. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

To make the filling:

Make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature. If you are using Tofutti, you can use it right out of the fridge.

Melt your chocolate over a double boiler on medium heat.

Meanwhile, using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until very smooth. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add in your melted chocolate. Begin mixing on low to incorporate it completely, again scraping down the sides, then turn  to medium speed to whip.

Whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Whipped cream cheese and chocolate filling. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak.
Whipped cream cheese and chocolate filling. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak.

Pour into your crust and cover with chocolate shavings, or fruit, or even chopped almonds.

Allow to set in the fridge. That’s it.

Finished Pie. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak.
Finished Pie. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak.

Once set, this pie can be outside for a long period of time, so if you are using it on a seder night, you can leave it out, and not worry about it.

This recipe is great because:

a) it is both Passover-friendly, and gluten-free

b) it is egg free

c) it is low in sugar

d) it can be made dairy or dairy-free

e) it takes all of 20 minutes to make

This recipe meets all sorts of dietary needs, and it tastes good!

As an April baby with gluten issues, I can’t tell you how nice and liberating it is to have a tasty, and easy recipe to go to like this.

I hope you enjoy.

Happy baking!( or no-baking)

Jennifer Maliniak

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