Passover Cooking: Matzah Choux and Fresh Cheese

Note: A couple of years ago I wrote a detailed post about how I cook Kosher for Passover, or K for P as I call it. Click here if you care about such things.

My mom recently sent me a recipe for “Pesach Muffins” and I was immediately intrigued. I noticed that the recipe and technique was almost exactly the same as choux dough, like I used when making profiteroles. Except for the flour, of course. I had purchased matzah cake meal this year, rather than regular matzah meal, and my mom thought I might get better results with the more finely ground product. While baking the rolls I also started making some cheese to go along with it.

At the bottom of this post is the recipe as my mom sent it to me (although I substituted butter for oil). After making the dough I decided it would be a good opportunity to use my new piping bag, a present from my friends Jeff and Eva. It worked great, and made the process super easy.

Way back in November of 2008 I attended a tofu making class, where I learned that a product called nigari is used to coagulate the soy milk into tofu. Nigari is basically magnesium chloride, which we learned was derived from sea water, and I recently started to wonder if it could be used when making cheese, the same way it was used to make tofu. I purchased a small bottle of nigari from Jas Mart in the East Village and gave it a try.

I’ve made ricotta before, but I was looking for something a little more substantial. I heated up some whole milk from the farmer’s market, added a pinch of salt, and then added a teaspoon of nigari. I expected it to coagulate pretty much on contact, but what happened was… nothing. I gave it a minute or so, then added another teaspoon. Again, nothing. I added a third, and still nothing. I figured that the nigari wasn’t working, but since I was already warming the milk I might as well go ahead and make some ricotta with it.

Making ricotta is crazy easy — heat up some milk and add fresh lemon juice to it. The curds separate from the whey almost immediately, and you then drain them through a cheese cloth. I did this with my milk, and left the ricotta to drain for a few minutes while I got the rolls out of the oven.

They came out quite nicely — they still had that unmistakable matzah meal flavor, but they actually puffed up and created a nice hole structure. I let them cool for a few minutes and went back to the cheese.

To my surprise the cheese wasn’t soft ricotta — it had actually formed something more substantial. It had the taste and texture of mozzarella cheese (this will come as no surprise to more seasoned cheese makers, as mozzarella is made with calcium chloride and citric acid, but I didn’t know that at the time). I was able to slice it and make myself some cheese sandwiches, a true luxury during Passover.

The best thing to come out of this is that now I’m determined to make more cheese. This past weekend I spoke to someone at the Brooklyn Kitchen who set me up with some supplies, which I’m hoping will get me a more consistent result.

Pesach Muffins:

3/4 C water
1/4 C oil
1 C matzah meal
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs

Bring to boil oil, water, sugar and salt. Add meal. Stir rapidly until nothing adheres to side of pan. Cool slightly. Add unbeaten eggs, one at a time. Beat thoroughly. Roll into balls and place on greased pan. Makes about 10 rolls. Bake at 450 for 10 min. Ruduce heat to 350, and bake for 35 min more.

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