What is a good kosher desert to serve?

I am going to a late “service” where the local temple will be invited. I am new, but I noticed that somebody had suggested that gelatin was OK. I am pretty sure that gelatin is not kosher. What is an easy desert to make that would be, for the best I can do, kosher?



I think you’re getting several concepts confused.

Gelatin is usually derived from animal collagen. The animal involved may be one normally considered kosher or not. Either way, some authorities deem that the animal product has been so changed, so rendered not fit even for dog food, that the lack of kosherness of the original animal is moot. Other authorities differ.

The question then becomes, is the gelatin pareve or neutral, i.e. fit to eat with either meat or milk dishes. That is also argued about for the same reasons as above.

Non-animal-derived gelatin is available, made from agar-agar or carrageenan or moss. This is gelatin that can be used even by vegans and for sure with any kosher dish, since it is definitely pareve.

Most of this is totally irrelevant, since as adam yax said, Jell-O brand gelatin is both kosher and pareve.

Royal, the other major brand, is also kosher but not pareve, since the gelatin comes from pigs.

You shouldn’t be asking whether you can the dessert kosher or not, but whether you need to label it as pareve. If you’re asking the question, you probably don’t maintain a kosher kitchen or the two sets of pots and pans and utensils needed in the first place, so nothing you make would be technically kosher to the most observant. If you’re going to a temple that doesn’t care then anything you make could be kosher with kosher ingredients, as long as you don’t make a pork pot pie with lobster butter sauce. What most people will care about is whether the dessert contains milk or not. You can make just about anything simple with nondairy margarine and soy milk or nondairy creamer and it won’t affect the flavor or texture much to do a substitution.

Or just make the Jell-O.

[sub]Damn. Not quick enough![/sub]

I think that my original answer was incorrect. I am not certain about gelatine being kosher. However, there are kosher Jello - like products.

I’ve recently seen marshmallows made from kosher fish gelatin. However, in this context “kosher gelatin” depends highly on the temple’s / shul’s position towards the relevant certifying authority.

I have also seen yogurt with “kosher gelatin” in the ingredients – but no recognized certification on the label.

Useful answers for the OP’s question depend heavily on the temple’s level of observance. Ask them.

When in doubt, fresh unpeeled fruit is almost by definition kosher/neutral.

Fruit is pareve, do a fruit plate; or, I have a recipe for a yummy pareve Apple cake if you would like it, it’s quite simple. It can be found here.

Edit: Ben can vouch for the yumminess of this cake.

I recommend Ginger’s apple cake. It is indeed yummy.



What, you thought I took your word on it? :slight_smile:

This question could almost be in great debates. Here is what made me change my answer:

Interestingly enough, this rabbi makes it sound like pork rinds are kosher.

Also, just because there is a K on the box doesn’t mean it is actually kosher.


Not just a Kosher dessert but a great dessert in general. I’ve become partial to it after working at an Israeli-owned restaurant for half a year. It’s kind of like peanut butter fudge, but firmer and grainier. The taste is hard to describe but it’s kind of sweet and “nutty” - it’s made of sesame seeds.

Some Conservative Jews consider gelatin to be sufficiently far from its animal origins that it doesn’t need to come from kosher animals, because it technically isn’t food any more. The argument is actually that something a dog won’t eat isn’t food (obviously, the converse is not true- not everything a dog will eat is food, or else insulation, paper towels, gloves, shoes, and cat poo would be food). I like this ruling, because it seems to me to indicate that Jell-O is not food (something I have instinctively known for a while). Mr. Neville and I follow this ruling at home, so we’re willing to eat non-kosher marshmallows, for example. But Orthodox and some Conservative Jews don’t follow this opinion- they insist that gelatin come only from kosher sources. I don’t think most Reform Jews who keep kosher worry about gelatin, but I could be wrong- I don’t know many Reform Jews who keep kosher.

There are two useful courses of action you could follow:

You could make your dessert using only items certified kosher and fresh fruit or vegetables. The kosher certifying organizations are all affiliated with the Orthodox movement, AFAIK, so they will follow the strict line on gelatin. The kosher marking that is a U enclosed in a circle is affiliated with the Orthodox, and is a well-respected and commonly seen kosher certification.

Or you could call the rabbi at the temple and ask what their standards of keeping kosher are when it comes to gelatin. You won’t be imposing- answering questions like this is part of a rabbi’s job.

An important question if you’re doing the latter is, will the event be at the temple or elsewhere? If it will be at the temple, will you be using any of their kitchen facilities? Temple kitchens are usually kosher, and using a kosher kitchen to prepare non-kosher food is a big no-no. If it were to happen, they would have to re-kasher the kitchen (make it kosher again). This is a labor-intensive, tedious, and time-consuming process. When we do it at home (it has to be done every year before Passover, even if no non-kosher food ever gets into the kitchen), it takes several days, because some appliances have to be unused for a period of time (usually 24 hours) before they can be kashered.

Is a meal being served at this event? If so, will it include meat or poultry of any kind? If meat is being served, you will need to make the dessert parve (also spelled pareve), or without any dairy products. Some Jews who keep kosher will not eat dairy products for some period of time after eating meat. The actual time varies, mostly based on ethnic origin or family custom. For example, some German Jews won’t eat dairy products for at least 6 hours after eating meat, but some Dutch Jews only wait 72 minutes. Mr. Neville’s family waits one hour, so that’s what we do. The temple probably won’t have a standard policy on this, because it does vary from family to family.

A lot of Jews would consider Jell-O to be really goyish, and therefore not very appealing. You’d be better off with something else- Jell-O just isn’t something that most Jewish families serve, in the same way that raw squid isn’t something that most American families serve and isn’t something that would appeal to most Americans. It doesn’t have to be Jewish food. A cake, cookies, or brownies would probably be more appealing, and about as easy. The cookies or cake obviously shouldn’t be decorated with a Christmas motif (though they don’t need to be decorated with any kind of Jewish motif, either), and shouldn’t contain anything non-kosher, but other than that any kind would be OK.

The simplest answer that won’t get you into any trouble is to bring a dessert that doesn’t contain any meat or dairy products. Then it is guaranteed to be kosher. If the people are so rigid they’d refuse to eat something prepared with non-kosher dishes, they wouldn’t have asked you to bring anything in the first place, because they’d know that a non-observant jew/non-jew wouldn’t have a kosher kitchen with kosher dishes.

Even so, if you bring a vegetarian dairy-free dish no one will have any cause to complain. Of course, in deserts, the only typical non-vegetarian ingredient is gelatin, so don’t use gelatin or anything containing gelatin, like marshmallows. That’s pretty easy to steer clear of. Of course, there are vegan alternatives to gelatin, like agar, but forget all that, it’s too much trouble, just pick one of the millions of desserts that don’t use gelatin.

And subsitute margarine for butter if you make cookies or baked goods. Not that butter and milk and cream cheese isn’t kosher, but it’s not kosher to eat dairy products in the same meal as you eat meat products, so if the meal included meat people who keep kosher couldn’t eat those cookies until the next meal. If a recipe calls for milk, you could subsitute soy milk, and so on. And of course, you could make a dessert with dairy, but it’s simpler if you avoid it.

Other than that, you’re free and clear to make anything you like.

I had to jump in to point out that many / most commercially-available margarine have dairy ingredients, if only a bit of whey: http://www.kjsl.com/~beanmom/nomilk.html (interestingly, soy “cheese” does as well and frankly, I cannot imagine eating that stuff unless you needed to be dairy-free, either as a total vegan or one who is allergic / intolerant - both of which would preclude eating it anyway!).

Oh wait - I just remembered; Mori-Nu silken tofu has a number of recipes on its website for soy-based desserts - puddings etc. (we make a tofu pumpkin pie every year). They would be dairy-free so might be acceptable for your event.

I know next to nothing about kosher-ness, but would a simple apple (or other fruit) pie be good? Or something like baklava, which is basically phyllo dough, honey and nuts? Also, are eggs considered dairy or meat?

As a couple of us have already explained, this is not true.

A food that lacks meat and milk is pareve, neutral. It is not necessarily kosher. Kosher foods are made with certified kosher ingredients in a kosher kitchen with kosher utensils.

The two terms are not at all equivalent.

There are resources that list nondairy equivalent products. Here’s one. Despite the 2004 date, it’s still a pretty good guide and some sections have been more recently updated.

GoDairyFree.org also has information and recipes that are obviously dairy free. And there are a million vegan recipe sites.

A fuit dessert containing no dairy is just about perfect. See Ginger’s yummy recipe above.

I thought phyllo dough contained dairy?

Eggs are considered pareve- neither meat nor dairy.

I know there’s some that doesn’t. Mr. Neville and I used to make chicken pot pie with it.

Yes, as long as you were sure the crust didn’t contain any lard. Some people do use lard in pie crusts. If you buy a pie crust, you’d have to check the ingredients carefully.

It wouldn’t be a particularly easy dessert to make, though…

Yeah, but if they asked him as a non-jew to bring a dessert to the pot luck, they’re gonna know he doesn’t have a kosher kitchen with two sets of kosher dishes and utensils. Really observant jews who were worried about that wouldn’t have invited a non-jew to bring anything, because they would know that it would be practically impossible for him to make a dessert at his house that they could eat. And they also wouldn’t go to a non-jewish house for dinner, they won’t go to most restaurants, when traveling they stick to packaged foods, and so on.

If he was invited to bring a dessert, I’d venture to guess that he’s OK as long as he doesn’t bring a bacon cheesecake or the equivalent.

If he really wants to be safe, if some really observant orthodox jews invited him, then his best bet is uncut fresh fruit untouched by any utensil or dish from his house, because all his knives, bowls, plates and spoons aren’t kosher and will contaminate the fruit, since everything in his kitchen can be presumed to have touched both meat and milk at some point, and even if it hasn’t there’s no way to be sure it hasn’t.