Rakefet’s Dreamland

So often we say to ourselves “someday”. “One day I will dare to do X and Y”. Sometimes it isn’t clear whether we chose the path ourselves, or if the path eventually chose us. And then, all of a sudden, something makes us take a turn in our life-path and dare.

For many years Rakefet Levy- Chalili worked in the so-called “third sector”. Working with special needs kids and mentally handicapped individuals was challenging, although definitely meaningful. But, aren’t we allowed to have more than one passion?

Rakefet Chalili, a mother of two, decided one day to fulfill her desire to become a master in baking. And so she did. When Rakefet does something, she does it with all of her heart. She quit her job and joined a baking school. For a long time, Rakefet only studied and didn’t offer her creations for sale. Only when she felt really confident did she begin to actually offer her delicious, homemade desserts to customers.

The path towards success, however, isn’t always easy. When you have your own small business, you are suddenly forced to do many things you haven’t done before: marketing, pricing, accounting and so on. Rakefet is dreaming of the day her business will become stable, so she could provide for her family by doing what she loves.

Although Rakefet has some Hungarian origins, she prefers the French patisserie. I dropped by her house to create some Purim baskets together, or as they are called in Hebrew- Mishloah Manot.

Brainstorming with Rakefet was like walking in a dreamland. You know, when the trees are actually lollipops, and everything around is made out of cream, chocolate, eclairs, and other delicacies.

The Mishloach Manot, or the Purim basket, is essentially a package of a few, preferably delicious, items. They are sent from one neighbor to another, as part of celebrating the happy-ending of the almost tragic Purim story. This Purim custom is over 1000 years old and makes this naturally happy holiday, with the traditions of dressing up (like on Halloween) and getting pretty drunk, even happier.

Some joke that at the end of the day you might get your own stuff back. Perhaps just repackaged. Amongst those likely to do so are busy Moms who recycle what they received. They are overpacked with sweets, and really don’t have enough time. So, if you want to be sure the basket you bring to the neighbors doesn’t find it’s way back to your kitchen in less than 24 hours- you better be creative! Make sure your basket is extra tempting to eat (for that, we are here to help you).

Rekefet designed two different baskets- Sweet Pink (and gluten-free), and a Green&Yellow salty one. What kind of person are you? (hint, I would have both of them. It’s all about balance in life, isn’t it? ) Pick your favorite and let’s get to work.

The Sweet-Pink includes: Homemade raspberry and strawberry marshmallows (and forget about the industrial ones that you buy in the supermarket), white chocolate and sugared fruit squares, homemade Raffaello snacks, and pink meringue kisses.

The Green&Yellow includes: preserved lemons, pesto sauce, crackers and parmesan cookies (all homemade).

I While we prerpare the baskets (I maean Rakeffet prepares and I am eating and commenting), I am asking Rakefet to give me a tip for perfect home-baking: “There are no shortcuts in Confectionary, follow the recipe with precision, and you’ll see that the outcomes are as you expected them” says Rakefet.

The baskets are ready. I order a few for the staff at my kids’ daycare and say goodbye. It’s been half a day full of guilty pleasures, great company and wonderful recipes! I gather all of them down here, so you can virtually share my experience.

Happy Purim to you all, and don’t forget your drink!

Follow the links for the full recipes:

White Chocolate & Sugared Fruit Truffles

Homemade Raspberry & Strawberry Marshmallows

Homemade Coconut and White Chocolate Truffles

Pink Meringue Kisses

Preserved Lemons Recipe

Thin Crackers Recipe

Parmesan Cookies Recipe

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