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Recipe in Spotlight - Passover Birthday Brownies and Lemon Almond Coconut Cookies

As part of a spotlight on Passover, members of the White House staff will be sharing their favorite family recipes with the public. These recipes are for chocolate passover brownies and Susy's Lemon Almond Coconut Cookies.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series spotlighting different family recipes used by members of the Obama Administration for Passover.

In the Siegel house, Pesach 1993 gave fresh meaning to the egg on the seder plate. Shortly after the second seder, my mom went into labor and before sunset the next day I had a new baby brother and a new baby sister.

Thus began the quest to find  Passover sweets worthy to be birthday treats – Dayenu with cakes that are more Afikomen than dessert. Here’s what will come out of our kitchen to celebrate two very special 19th birthdays next week – Happy Birthday Andy and Becca!


Birthday Brownies (with optional icing)


4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cups cocoa

1 cup potato starch

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)


Beat sugar and eggs for approximatley one minute. Mix in oil, vanilla and salt and salt. Blend in cocoa powder and mix thoroughly.

Mix in potato starch. Add chocolate chips when batter is smooth.

Bake in 11 by 7 brownie pan or muffin tins for brownie cupcakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (brownies) or 20 minutes (cupcakes). Resist the urge to overbake!

½ cup (125 mL) butter

5 tablespoons (75 mL) cocoa

1/8 teaspoon (.5 mL) salt

2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla

2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar

Hot water

To make Icing: Melt butter in a saucepan; stir in cocoa, salt and vanilla. Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar. (Mixture will be thick.) Add small amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons/5 to 10 mL) of hot water at a time and beat with a whisk until mixture is just thin enough to spread over brownies


Susy’s Lemon Almond Coconut Cookies

1 1/4 cups of sugar

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon lemon extract

I teaspoon vanilla

Grated rind from one small lemon

3 teaspoons matzoh cake meal

1/2 cup potato starch

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 cup chocolate chips


Place eggwhites, salt and almond extract in a bowl. Beat for two minutes until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and rind. Fold in cake meal and potato starch until completely blended. Add almonds and coconut. Spoon tablespoons-size cookies onto parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. When cookies are cool, drizzle with melted chocolate chips.

Julie Siegel is Special Assistant to the Office of the White House Counsel.