JWRP Sister Spotlight: Amy Kritzer
As the founder of the cooking blog, “What Jew Wanna Eat” and the owner of the Jewish gifts website, ModernTribe.com, Amy Kritzer spends her days modernizing, accessorizing, and reimagining Jewish traditions. “I love helping people celebrate Judaism in their own way — whether through Jewish recipes with fun flavors or through Jewish products that they’re proud to display all year round,” she said. We spoke with Amy, a recent JWRP Media Magnet, about the inspiration behind her new cookbook, as well as one of her favorite kosher-for-Passover cake recipes.
Why did you decide to travel to Israel with the Media Magnets?
It seemed like a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I had traveled to Israel before, but this trip was completely different — much more intimate and with women only. The other women on the trip had really unique and diverse backgrounds and were all doing amazing things in their fields. I was excited to see all of the things you need to see on a trip to Israel, like the Wailing Wall and the Dead Sea — while also having interesting discussions and local experiences.
How did the Media Magnets trip impact you?
Experiencing Israel with the Media Magnets allowed me to see Israel from a whole new perspective. We met people who had a deep passion for Israel. Our tour guide at Yad Vashem shared her mother’s story of surviving the Holocaust, as well as her own journey to Israel. It was very moving.
As a food blogger, I was inspired by all of the delicious food we ate — like Yemenite bread filled with cheese, tomatoes, and spices, and hummus shakshuka, which is a combination of two of my favorite things. I enjoyed sampling the fruit in the shuk, too. I brought back a bunch of za’atar because the quality in Israel is so good. I also got ideas for new recipes.
I returned home with lifelong friends and a much stronger connection to Israel.
What was the inspiration behind your new cookbook, Sweet Noshings?
My cookbook is filled with modern Jewish desserts that I grew up with — with my own personal twists. For example, I created a recipe for rugelach with a baklava-inspired filling, which merges Ashkenazi and Sephardic foods. Jewish food is always evolving, and I love helping people adapt traditional Jewish recipes. I also love transporting people back to the warm memories of their childhood and helping them show their love through food.
Growing up, my Bubbe and I would bake together, and we’d make rugelach, mandel bread, and challah. When I was an adult living in Austin, Texas, I read a lot of food blogs and I wanted to start one, too. My brother suggested that I focus on Jewish food, but I didn’t think that was so unique because I grew up with it. But then I learned that my friends didn’t know what a knish was. I was proud of Jewish food and hadn’t seen any blogs about it, so I decided to start one. First, I asked my grandmother to send me some of her recipes. Then I went to culinary school and developed my own recipes with Jewish flavors.
Can you share a Passover recipe with the JWRP community?
Sure! I love classic flourless chocolate cake, and with Flourless Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Beet Frosting, everyone gets an individual portion. The naturally pink frosting puts it over the top! When I made these for Passover a few years ago, I displayed them before dinner. Well, they were gone before dinner even started — and I didn’t even get to tell people that they were eating beets for dessert!
What You’ll Need
For the Frosting:
- 1 medium beet cleaned and trimmed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 sticks or 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces (227 g) cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups (450 g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Matzah Bark:
- 3 pieces (84 g) matzah
- 1½ cups (182 g) semisweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup (85 g) white chocolate chips
- Edible glitter (optional)
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 stick or ½ cup (112 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces (227 g) bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup (43 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
How to Make It
- First, cook the beet. Place beet in a medium saucepan and cover with water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool, peel, and shred beet with a grater; remove as much moisture as you can with paper towels. You should have about ½ cup (115g). Set aside.
- Then, make matzah bark. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Place matzah on a foil-lined cookie sheet with sides (jelly roll pan) or 9 x 12-inch (23 x 30 cm) cake pan and sprinkle semisweet chocolate chips evenly over matzah. You can break matzah into pieces if the whole pieces don’t fit on your sheet.
- Bake for 3–4 minutes to melt chocolate. Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time until melted, stirring after each interval.
- Remove matzah from the oven, spread chocolate carefully with a knife to cover matzah, drizzle with white chocolate, and sprinkle with edible glitter, if using. If you’d like, you can also add other toppings at this point like coconut or slivered almonds.
- Cool (in the refrigerator to speed things up, if desired) and then break matzah into pieces. Set aside. You’ll have more than enough to use on the cupcakes. It makes a great snack!
- Lower oven temperature to 300ºF/150ºC. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan and 4 cups of another pan with liners and set aside.
- To make cupcakes, in a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate bowl, beat sugar and eggs together for 2–3 minutes until very pale yellow. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Add chocolate mixture to sugar mixture and mix to combine. Stir in orange zest.
- Pour batter evenly into cupcake liners (1½ heaping tablespoons each) and bake for 25 minutes, just until set. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack. The cupcakes will sink a little as they cool.
- To finish frosting, beat butter and cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment in a large bowl until light and creamy. Then add powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add shredded beets and vanilla and beat until combined. This frosting makes a lot, so you can really pile it on.
- Spread or pipe frosting (using a large-hole piping piece so the beet pieces can fit through) onto cooled cupcakes and top with a piece of matzah bark. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- Tip: For the beet frosting, you can either purchase pre-cooked beets (I don’t recommend canned) or cook your beet prior to making cupcakes.