An apricot rugelach that sealed a marriage proposal. Sufganiyot that evoke Sunday morning strolls on the water’s edge in Port Melbourne. A Ben & Jerry’s – inspired charoset ice cream. Every sweet has a story in the Monday Morning Cooking Club’s fourth output, Now for Something Sweet.
“There’s something about the Jewish community and cake,” the women of MMCC write in the introduction. In their newest collection of crowd-sourced heirloom recipes — this time strictly dessert — the Australian “Sisterhood” appears to be in search of just what that “something” is.
Something Sweet, like past MMCC works,strikes at the heart of what Jewish diasporic cuisine is — both far-reaching and intimate. It’s also their brand’s charm. The recipes span continents, generations, and, of course, flavors. But the stories have connective tissue: passion and poignancy. More than anything, reading Something Sweet is like being invited into a warm kitchen and told cherished family lore.
Although the book features dishes that might be complex for the beginning baker, it also includes helpful resources on the basics. The “Kitchen Notes” section offers a primer on measurements, equipment, ingredients and technique, while the sections on how to bake cake, pastry, and other staples advise novices and anyone needing a refresher with succinct explanations and sometimes step-by-step photo guides.
The chiffon section stands out as a highlight. It’s hard not to smile when reading MMCC member Merelyn Frank describing a poppy seed chiffon made “famous all over Perth” by her late mother, Yolan. Frank reveals that it was even occasionally smuggled by airplane to friends in France. The prized recipe, long kept secret, is here. There’s also a noteworthy you-won’t‑believe-it’s‑kosher-for-Passover Nut Chiffon, which utilizes matzo meal and potato flour.
Don’t worry. Anyone trying chiffon for the first time can consult the “How to Chiffon” section.
Fans of Shavuot should rejoice, too. The sweet cheese section is filled with creations perfect for the Jewish calendar’s dairy festival. From a polenta-crusted Romanian loaf to an apricot-studded kolac (Czech-style pastry), everything here is worth trying. The South African cheesecake, an old MMCC favorite from The Food, the Stories, the Sisterhood, is tweaked in this section to glorious perfection.
We’re living in a moment when communities everywhere are exploring and reimagining what connection means. That’s what the “Sisterhood” does through the universal language of food. Right when we all needed it, the Monday Morning Cooking Club has delivered something special — or rather, Something Sweet.
Oren Peleg is a Los Angeles-based writer. He lives with his husky Harrison Ford and is on a mission to make the perfect hummus.