Purim – The Holiday That Keeps On Giving

Shush, Iran
So, out of respect to those that partied just a little too hard yesterday I’ll speak quietly (imagine me whispering) and keep today’s post short. As I explained over the past two days, we’ve just concluded celebrating the holiday of Purim. But like any good holiday worth it’s salt, Purim goes into a bonus day round for those who live in certain areas. Which areas? Why? To explain this, let me give you a little background. As you know, the Purim takes place in ancient Persia, an empire consisting of 127 provinces. The capitol city was named Shushan and was located in what is now modern day South-Western Iran. In those days, Shushan, like most cities, especially large, developed ones, were walled for multitudes of reasons, most importantly for security and safety. This will become important later.

Now when Haman was defeated, and the King gave permission to Mordechai and the Jews to fight back against their enemies, the battles took place on the 13th of Adar, with the victorious resting and celebrating on the 14th of Adar, the day that we now celebrate as Purim. However, in the capitol city of Shushan, where there was a large concentration of anti-semitism, the fighting took two days, the 13th and 14th, with the Jewish people only resting and celebrating on the 15th of Adar.

So what is this extra day I’m talking about? One would think that we’d celebrate on the 14th and only the Shushanites would celebrate on the 15th. However, this was a dark time for Judaism, specifically in the Land of Israel and it’s holy city of Jerusalem. So the Sages decreed, that they wished to honour the importance of the miracle, and the walled city of both Shushan and Jerusalem, that all cities that were walled at the time of Joshua (Yehoshua bin Nun) were to celebrate this extra special day, referred to as “Shushan Purim”, to populate and elevate the miracle that G-d performed.

Today, the only city in which Purim is celebrated on the 15th of Adar (besides Shushan) is Jerusalem. Although the Megillah (the written story of Purim) is also read on the 15th of Adar in a number of other cities in the Land of Israel, including Acre, Jaffa, and Tiberias, this is only a custom based on the possibility that they may have been surrounded by walls at the time of Joshua. In these places, the Megillah reading on the 15th is done without reciting the blessings. For all other purposes, these cities celebrate Purim on the 14th.

So in honour of the bonus day, I’m giving a bonus Purim recipe. This recipe is for a Persian barley soup. I gave the recipe to my mom to use, as her theme this year for the Seudah (festive meal) was Persia, and in her wisdom, she improved upon it. The recipe is her doctored version, and I can attest from eating it last night, is delicious!

Purim Themed Cocktails

Please note, two important things before starting on these recipes. Firstly, if you have concerns regarding kosher alcohol, I suggest checking out the rather complete list published by the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc). The list can be found on their website, or directly by clicking here. Secondly, and no less important, please remember to drink responsibly. Know your limit, and stay within it! If you have had too much to drink, please consider staying over at your host’s house, taking a cab or public transportation. Do not drink and drive.

Rise of MordechaiRise of Mordechai

This is a sparkling pomegranate margarita that celebrates the elevation of Mordechai from condemned man to hero of the Purim story. The pomegranate seeds will rise up on the bubbles from the sparkling water, just like Mordechai did!

Ingredients:

2 ounces Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
1 ½ ounces Tequila
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounce lime juice
1 ½ ounces simple syrup (see below for instructions)
coarse salt for the rim
lime + pomegranate seeds for garnish*
Sparkling water

* Click here for tips on seeding a pomegranate.

Directions:

For simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely.

Rim the ridge of a large glass with a lime wedge and dip in salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and top off with cold sparkling water and a few extra lime slices. Add some pomegranate seeds for decoration.

Heart of HamanDark Heart of Haman

This drink takes on the dark colour of the blackberries and their tartness, just like Haman’s heart! The hint of sage, the “wise herb” adds to the vanity of Haman, who thought he was so smart! This syrup and puree will make enough for a couple of drinks. You’ll need about 6 ounces of sparkling water and 2 ounces of rum per serving.

Ingredients:

15 medium sage leaves*
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
8 ounces of frozen blackberries*
Sparkling water
White Rum

* Click here for instructions on sage and blackberries.

Directions:

Bring the water and sugar to a boil over high heat just until sugar dissolves. Crush the sage leaves with the back of a spoon and add to the syrup mixture and set aside to let the sage infuse for 15 minutes and then remove the herbs.

Meanwhile puree the blackberries in the blender and then strain the mixture through a fine strainer.

To serve place a tablespoon of the blackberry puree in the bottom of a glass, add a tablespoon of the sage syrup, 2 ounces of rum and then top off with about ounces of sparkling water.

Esther's SecretEsther’s Secret

The heroine of the Purim story had many secrets… most famous though was her Jewish identity that she kept hidden until the time was right. This drink represents Esther, both in its beauty, and it’s hidden strength… it packs quite the punch!

Ingredients:

2 ounces rum
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce triple sec

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the rum, sweet vermouth and triple sec. Shake for about 30 seconds and then pour into a chilled martini glass.

Purim – The Drinking Holiday

Kosher WineYes, Jews drink. This comes as a surprise to some, and not so much to others. True, traditionally speaking, we’re not big drinkers. We have a lot of ceremonial occasions where alcohol, wine specifically is a key part of the observance. We have the weekly Sabbath, where we say Kiddush (the blessing over the wine) at the Friday night meal, the Saturday lunch and then again Saturday night to conclude the observance. Our wedding ceremonies have seven blessings that are said over a cup of wine, at the ceremony itself and then every night for seven nights following. Wine in the Jewish religion is important, and is on a different level, in it’s making and drinking, then any other spirit. But “big drinking”? Drinking to excess and getting drunk? Again, traditionally, not a very popular activity in the Jewish world (Yes, I know that there are Jewish alcoholics, and I am not referring to them in this discussion, though it is a very real problem. There is a wonderful organization based here in Toronto called JACS, that works to help those suffering from alcoholism and addiction, and their families. For more information, please click on this link to be brought to their website).

There is a big exception to this rule though. The holiday of Purim. Jews in general, observant ones specifically, tend to be a pious, spiritual body of people. They spend their days in the observance of G-d’s laws and commandments, and strive to fulfill them to the best of their ability. Alcohol, for the sake of becoming imbibed, directly takes away from that practice. How can you learn, study and teach if you can’t walk in a straight line? In fact, part of Noah’s downfall after the flood, which led to his shame and the cursing of his son and grandson, is as of the direct result of drinking too much wine (read more about that here).

So why is Purim different? Part of the celebration during the holiday is to drink to excess, to achieve a state in which one can no longer differentiate between the villain Haman and the hero Mordechai. I looked around for different sources and explanations (ie: Google Search), and I came across and interesting article on the Chabad website. It stated that by becoming incapciated it is as if we are saying: “Even if we can no longer differentiate between things whose differences should be abundantly clear, we still know that we shall not lack salvation, that our hopes are not fruitless and that our joy is not unbased, for in G-d alone do we place our trust. Whether sober or inebriated, we fear no evil, for You are with us forever.”

It is easy to mark the differences between a “cursed is Haman” and a “blessed is Mordechai”. They are polar opposites on the scale of righteousness. However, what is harder is to learn to recognize the minute intermediate stages between these two extremes. Can you tell the differences between someone who is “mostly good” or “mostly evil”? At what point does the scale tip?

If one has consumed enough on Purim that these stages are no longer clear, then he is considered to have fulfilled his obligation, but there are different ways to find righteousness in this world. Is it through the merits and victory of the good? Or just the downfall of the evil? Is it enough that our enemies perish, or should we elevate ourselves as well?

When the Jewish People act meritoriously, the righteous are exalted and it is their praise that is expressed; all are happy and the joy is complete. But when we lack merit, and our salvation is realized through the downfall of the wicked who are excessively evil, the entire world trembles in fear of G-d, but there is no joy. Thus, the happiness of “blessed is Mordechai” – of the Jewish People being saved through their own merits – is greater than “cursed is Haman” – the salvation that comes when the wicked have been destroyed.Nevertheless, the Sages ruled that on Purim one is required to drink until he reaches the point where he can no longer differentiate between these two types of salvation. Why? Because the downfall of Haman is completely different from the downfall of other wicked people. The joy that results from his defeat is as complete as that which results from the victory of the righteous. Haman is a descendant of Amalek, of whom the verse states: “And in the destruction of the wicked there is song (Proverbs, 11:10)”. When Amalek is obliterated, it is as if there is a revelation of the Spirit of G-d in the world and it is therefore fitting that we celebrate.

Thus, there is no difference between the joy associated with “cursed is Haman” and that associated with “blessed is Mordechai.” So that man might not be distressed that he has merited salvation because of the excessive evil of the wicked rather than through his own merit, our Sages ordained that he drink and forget the difference between these two sources of salvation.

Hamentashen

HamentashenThere are a million different flavours out there for Hamentashen! You can go old fashioned with prune or poppy seed, traditional with jam, or try some new modern twists! Below you’ll find a basic dough recipe, and then some new fillings to try this year! I hope you like them!

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
¾ cup margarine
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
Filling of choice (See below for some options!)
egg wash (egg + water)

Instructions:

Sift together the baking powder, flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the margarine. Add well beaten eggs and mix together to form a soft dough. Roll out on a floured board to ¼” thickness. Cut with a large, round cookie cutter. Put a spoonful of desired filling in centre, and pinch together to form triangular pocket. Brush with an egg wash, put on a well-greased pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Poppy Seed Filling:

Ingredients:
¾ cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons margarine
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg

Directions:
Beat the egg in a bowl and set aside. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Whisk in the coconut milk, sugar and honey and simmer over a low flame until the sugar is melted. Pour half the hot mixture into a cup. Very slowly drizzle the hot mixture into the beaten egg, whisking constantly. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Simmer the mixture for 3-4 minutes until it thickens. Remove from fire. Whisk in the poppy seeds and refrigerate until fully cooled before using.

Fresh Cranberry Filling:

Ingredients:
1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 ¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 ¼ water
Zest of one orange

Directions:
Bring water, sugar, and orange zest to a boil and continue to boil for about 10 minutes, until mixture is syrup–like. Add cranberries and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until berries pop. Remove from heat. Pour into bowl and refrigerate overnight or until chilled.

Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients:
2 apples, very finely diced
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:
Peel and dice the apples very finely. Mix in the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are fully coated.

Coffee Cake Filling:

Ingredients:
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
2 tablespoons melted margarine
1 to 2 tablespoons apple butter

Directions:
Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nuts together. Slowly drizzle in the margarine in, and then toss to mix with the apple butter. You may find it easier to blend in the butter if you microwave it first for about 15 seconds.

Pecan Pie Filling:

Ingredients:
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup almond milk
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup pecan pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Whisk together the maple syrup, almond milk, salt, and cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep stirring continuously with a whisk until the mixture boils and thickens. Once boiling, turn off the heat and stir-in pecan pieces and vanilla. Allow to fully cool.

Lemon Bar Filling:

Ingredients:
½ cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 lemons, juiced (just under 1 cup juice)
zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs
¾ cup honey
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
Combine arrowroot or tapioca, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, palm sugar, and maple syrup. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until dry ingredients are completely dissolved. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan on low-medium heat, and whisk continuously for 8-10 minutes until a thick custard forms. Be very careful to continue whisking on a lower flame or the eggs might scramble. Allow to completely cool.

A Freilicha Purim! Happy Purim!

PurimIt’s that time of year again people! No, not Jewish Halloween (which yes, I have heard the holiday referred to as) It’s Purim!!

The holiday originating back to about 4th century BCE in the land of Persia. At the time the Persian empire extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus (Thought to be Xerxes I) had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favour in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin/uncle/kin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed, and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery Haman made.

Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued—granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies. On the 13th of Adar, the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar, they rested and celebrated.

Purim observances:

a) Reading of the megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle.

b) Giving money gifts to the poor.

c) Sending gifts of food to friends.

d) A festive Purim feast.

It is also customary for children to dress up in disguising costumes.

One of the most traditional foods associated with Purim is the Hamentashen… a triangular shaped stuffed cookie. The name comes from the villain of the story Haman, and is shaped like either is hat, ears, nose or pockets. The jury is out as to which one it’s really supposed to be, as long as it is shaped like a triangle. It is stuffed with jam, jelly, prune mixtures or poppy seeds traditionally, but I’ve thrown in a whole bunch of new fillings for you to try out this year. You’ll have to let me know which is your favourite, and of course, have a Happy and Safe Purim!!

Hello Dollies Bars

Hello DolliesIngredients:

¾ cup butter (or 1 ½ sticks)
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
⅛ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (I like my walnuts toasted first)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 9”x13” baking pan. Mix together in a bowl the cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the crumb mixture evenly over melted butter, and push down so that the mixture becomes the crust. Pour the condensed milk over the crust, and then spread the coconut evenly over the milk. Scatter chocolate chips evenly over coconut. Spread walnuts over chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes*. Cool completely and cut into bars.

*If using a dark coated pan lower temperature to 325 degrees, as the edges tend to get dark.

Hello Dolly!

Hello DollySo back in the 60’s there was a musical that took Broadway (and the world) by storm called “Hello Dolly!”. It stared Carol Channing and was about a meddlesome woman who considered herself a matchmaker and had quite a few scenes all revolving around the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant. How this actually relates to the dessert bars, I’m not 100% sure, but supposedly a little girl named Alecia Leigh Couch of Dallas, Texas, entered the recipe (which she borrowed from her Grandmother) in a baking contest held by Clementine Paddleford (America’s first food journalist). When published in the September 19, 1965 edition of the Syracuse Post-Standard, Ms. Paddleford wrote: “The “Hello Dolly” name was Alecia’s idea. “No need even to mess us a bowl,” Alecia writes, “and that’s the big reason why I call this my favorite cake recipe. And of course it’s good!” 

Again, how this relates? No clue… Maybe ’cause Dolly liked things easy? Who knows… what I do know though, is the bars are incredibly easy to make and easier to eat! So enjoy!

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo BarsFor the mint version of this dessert, add some mint extract and green food colouring to the middle layer. This recipe will make about 32 bars.

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs, beaten
3 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)

Middle Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream
¼ cup custard powder (if you can’t find this, use vanilla pudding mix)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract (for mint flavoured option)
2-3 drops green food colouring (for mint flavoured option)

Top Layer:
8 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

For the bottom layer:
In the top of a double boiler, combine 1cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs until they are well combined. While constantly mixing, add a small amount of the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture so that the eggs can come up to temperature. Slowly add the egg mixture to the main cocoa mixture, until both are combined. Make sure to whisk the entire time so that the eggs do not cook and curdle. The mixture will thicken up, after about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an un-greased 9×13 inch pan.

For the middle layer:
Cream together 1 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder (pudding mix), and if using, the mint extract and food colouring, until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.

For the top layer:
While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Return to the refrigerator to let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Dessert Bars! All Ages Allowed!

Dessert BarSo two brownies walked into a bar… ouch! What? You haven’t heard that one before? That’s right, it’s bar week…. dessert bar week that is (sorry… maybe one week I will do drinks. Hey, how about I do drinks one week? Good idea!) So this week is all about dessert bars… not cookies and not cakes, but 2 to 3 bite wonderful bars sent from Heaven to torment us with these horrible things call calories.. Wow.. I’m in a weird mood today, sorry.

Back to the desserts. So these are all going to be hand hold-able sweets that will hit the spot. Seeing as how it is so cold out, and I am Canadian… let’s start out with Nanaimo Bars. The exact origin of the bar is unknown, though it is attributed to Nanaimo, British Columbia. The earliest confirmed printed copy of the recipe using the name “Nanaimo Bars” appears in the Edith Adams’ prize cookbook from 1953. A copy of the book is on view at the Nanaimo museum.

Other unconfirmed references date the bars back to the 1930s, when it was said to be known locally as “chocolate fridge cake”. Some New Yorkers claim the recipe originated in New York and refer to them as “New York Slices”. However, Tim Hortons coffee shops, a Canadian chain, sell them in New York as “Nanaimo bars”. One modern reference even refers to the bars’ existing in nineteenth century Nanaimo. Well, whatever they’re called, and wherever they originated, they are a yummy no-bake layered dessert bar that tends to have 2 main variations: original and mint. I’m going to be giving you the original version, plus the additions needed if you wish to go minty!

Twisted Chocolate Babka – Шоколад Бабка

Chocolate BabkaThis recipe will make 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

Ingredients:

Dough:
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Grated zest of half an orange
3 large eggs
½ cup water (warm, between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
¾ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
oil, for greasing

Filling:
4 ½ ounces dark chocolate (or approximately ¾ cup chocolate chips)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cold is fine
Scant ½ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Make the dough:

In a small bowl mix together the warm water and the yeast, with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this stand aside and foam up. This should happen within 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, remaining sugar and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to combine. Add the foamy yeast water, and the eggs (one at a time), while the mixer is on low with the dough hook. Keep the machine mixing, increasing the speed as the ingredients come together to form a dough.

It’s okay if the dough is on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.

Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic place in a warm area to rise, about 2-3 hours. Once the dough has doubled (or close to it), stick it in the fridge to cool. This will help with the rolling out of the dough in the next segment.

Make filling:

In a small pot on med-low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Remove from the heat and set it aside.

Assemble loaves:

Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.

Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.

Trim last ½ -inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an under baked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While babkas are baking, make syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.