Passover Dessert: Orange and Hazelnut Torte

The key to a delicious and light Passover dessert, I believe, is not adding matzah to it. No disrespect to the cracker lookalike but if one doesn’t ordinarily grind up already-baked crackers and fling them in cake, there’s a good, taste-related reason for it.

Although I present dessert options with matzah myself, here and here, if you think about it (and if you’re like me, you’ll be wearing the evidence), it’s matzah all through the Seders, at breakfast, lunch, tea and sometimes, dinner through the week. So, it may be nice not to add it to the afters, and gives you license to be creative while avoiding the BROWS (barley, rye, oats, wheat, spelt) grains 😉

Here’s what I’ve found in all my years of Passover dessert enjoyment:

1) The best desserts – remembering we’ve already relived the suffering of the predecessors and are now embracing the sweetness of liberty – use egg whites as a lightener. See my Passover chocolate cake, which incidentally uses whole pieces of matzah in a final result that will barely reveal the secret ingredient

2) Fruit, especially berries, and whipped cream are simple but delicious after a fish or pareve meal. Add crumbled meringue and a touch of fruit compote to the cream and you’ll have a refreshing Eton Mess

3) Tasty cakes are often born out of, and made with (sometimes by), nuts. Like this recipe I’m about to give you

4) The most memorable desserts for Passover are often the creations of someone in your mum’s or grandmother’s generation. That’s experience speaking. They’ve tried and tested the alternatives and found the ones that are hits, so go grab those recipes. And come back here and tell me about them. (Just please don’t say they got them at their favorite bakery!)

Hazelnut and Orange Torte

  • eggs, 4, (freshest) separated
  • veg oil, 1/4 cup
  • orange or lemon juice, 3 tbsp
  • hazelnuts, toasted and ground to a meal, 1 3/4 cups or 7 oz
  • sugar, 1 cup
  • salt, pinch
  • zest, of an orange
  • For syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • more zest
  • dash of Cointreau if desired (check if kosher for Passover)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. With handmixer, blend egg yolks, salt and sugar till pale and creamy, add orange or lemon juice and zest, add oil and blend further
  3. Add hazelnut meal and stir till combined
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites till stiff and peaks form
  5. Fold egg whites into the yolk mixture
  6. Turn into an oiled cake pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350, turn heat down to 300 and bake a further 10-25 mins, depending on your oven’s idiosyncracies, till a skewer poked in the center comes out clean. Check intermittently after the initial 45 mins in case the cake is done any earlier as you don’t want it to overcook and dry out
  7. In a small saucepan, simmer sugar and orange juice till it becomes a syrup and coats the back of a spoon
  8. When cake is done and removed from the oven, use skewer to poke lots of holes (gently) into it from the top
  9. Pour half the syrup all over the cake
  10. When the cake is cool, loosen the sides of the cake, put a plate over the top of the cake pan and turn it over gently. Leave for a day or two – if you can possibly wait for the flavors to mature.
  11. To serve, if you’ve used a bundt cake pan, your cake will have a donut hole in the middle. Add fruit and more warm syrup if needed


March 30, 2010. Tags: , , , . Baked Goods, Cakes, Cultural Feasts, Desserts, Festive, Gluten-free, Jewish, Passover.


  1. Judith replied:

    OMG – I take it there is no point in counting calories for this one… sounds absolutely divine.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Haha… although the added fat content is minimal. And I prefer to focus on the protein in the nuts 😉

  2. david replied:

    this was ridiculously decadent and a surprise. I mean, no chocolate in it, c’mon! but truly a flavor explosion.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Glad you liked it David. I have already started making plans for slight revisions to this cake, although child #2 has forced me to make another one. I’m surprised it appeals to him too (I mean with no chocolate in it!)

  3. Deb replied:

    The best thing about having Bernadette over for dinner is that she leaves you what little dessert is leftover. (okay, the best thing is her company. But still…) 🙂

  4. Jen replied:

    How long is Passover celebrated? When does it fall on? What do you do?

    • divaindoors replied:

      Hey Jen,
      Passover began Monday night and continues for 8 days.. I wrote about it here, take a look. It’s fun but tricky avoiding those grains for so long!

  5. Toby replied:

    Let me start with… it was absolutely positively DELICIOUS. I served it with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. My issue was the lack of having a cake pan size. I used a small bundt type pan and it was obviously too big for the cake… it browned very quickly- and my oven temperature is fairly accurate. What size would you recommend?

    • divaindoors replied:

      Hi Toby, Thanks for dropping by and for trying out the cake and for the compliment! This cake IS a bit tricky. How big a pan did you use? I wouldn’t recommend a square pan bigger than 9 inches and have been using a smallish bundt pan myself. I would suggest lowering the temperature to about 325F and cooking it longer. Give it 50 minutes, and from then on, use a skewer to check doneness every extra 5 minutes (takes dedication to get a good cake!). Alternatively, you could cover the pan with aluminium foil till it’s past the first 50 minutes, then remove. I will try this cake out again and perhaps do an update. Chag Pesach Sameach!

  6. Edda replied:

    Can the recipe be doubled for a bigger cake? I have about 15 coming to my seder

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