Baked desserts for the Passover Seder are challenging. With the exception of matzo, flour products, grains and leavening agents are not allowed. So a delicious bread pudding is out of the question, right?

Unleavened, cracker-like matzos are the only flour products allowed during the Passover celebration, and they make an excellent substitution for chunks of bread in this healthy, baked matzo pudding with a cherry-almond sauce.

The dish is inspired by matzo brei, which is a sort of savory, French toast-like dish made by soaking matzos in beaten eggs and frying them in schmalz (delicious, but ludicrously unhealthy rendered chicken fat).

Many families keep their Passover Seders dairy-free, so this pudding is made with a custard of almond milk and eggs. Almond milk is low in fat, lactose-free and lends a pleasantly nutty flavor. Look for it alongside soy and rice milks in shelf-stable packages.

To add richness after the matzos are first soaked in water to soften them, they are tossed with a tablespoon of walnut oil instead of butter or kosher-for-Passover margarine. If you don’t have walnut oil, substitute vegetable oil or omit it altogether.

To give the dessert a mellow, yet festive sweetness, a blend of light brown sugar and cinnamon is mixed in, along with a generous helping of dried cherries, which plump up during baking.


The addition of matzo meal is essential to ensuring the pudding is firm and custardy. Without it, the pudding will be wet.

While the pudding is baking, a quick sauce is made with cherry juice and a touch of almond extract. Potato starch (available in the grocer’s kosher foods section) is used for thickening; cornstarch usually is avoided during Passover.

The dessert is best served warm from the oven, but can be eaten at room temperature and cold as well. Leftovers make a great addition to a breakfast or brunch.


Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 12


10 sheets of matzo, broken into small pieces

1 tablespoon walnut oil

2 cups almond milk (don’t use unsweetened varieties)

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, loosely packed


1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

1/3 cup matzo meal

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 cups black cherry juice


1 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons potato starch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat an 11-by-13-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil or olive oil.

In a large bowl, soak the matzo pieces in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing out as much excess water as possible. Return the softened matzo to the bowl and add the walnut oil. Toss to coat, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, eggs and egg whites.

In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon and salt,


Add the almond milk mixture and to the softened matzo; stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the brown sugar mixture (reserve the remaining few tablespoons) and the dried cherries. Stir to combine.

Stir in the matzo meal, then spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle the top with the reserved brown sugar mixture and slivered almonds. Bake until golden-brown on top and no longer wet at the center, 50 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high, bring the cherry juice and almond extract to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in the potato starch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened, about another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Serve the matzo pudding, warm from the oven, room temperature or cold, topped with the cherry-almond sauce.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 307 calories; 48 calories from fat; 5 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 43 mg cholesterol; 56 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 6 g fiber; 173 mg sodium.

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