For some mysterious reason, it has become customary for the mother of a Bar Mitzvah boy to bake a tefilin cake. Not a cake shaped like a pair of tefilin , though I’m sure someone out there is baking one of those. What I’m referring to is a cake decorated with chocolate tefilin, an edible replica of the phylacteries, the little black boxes pious men wear during prayer to bind themselves to G-d. Yes, it is almost obscenely kitsch to turn this sacred object into a sweet , but such is life.
Unlike real tefilin which must be fashioned by an expert craftsman and can cost in the thousands of dollars, a tefilin cake is cheap and easy to make. Just melt chocolate in a double boiler and then pour it into a plastic mold. There are actually molds in the shape of tefilin. If you can’t get one, a cube mold and and a flat square mold will do. After you’ve filled your mold, place it into the freezer and take it out when you are ready to decorate . The tefilin should pop right out.
Though it certainly tastes better, do not use high quality chocolate. It won’t harden properly. Use cheap sweet baking chocolate—the kind that tastes like soap.
For the retzuos, the tefillin straps, you can cut apricot leather into thin strips and dip them in chocolate. Alternatively, you can use black licorice strings or even thin black ribbon.
Since I couldn’t find a black licorice strings I used black licorice Twizzlers sliced in half. Not perfect, but hey, it’s only a cake.
And in case you are curious, it’s a carrot cake, my son’s favorite, with cream cheese frosting.
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots, packed
Preheat oven to 350 (175 C)
Using the paddle of a standing mixer beat sugar and eggs, add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and finally carrots.
Pour batter into a greased 10 inch springform or tube pan.
Bake for one hour
One package cream cheese (225 gm)
1/4 cup whipping cream (or Rich’s whip)
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla pudding mix
Using the paddle setting of a standing mixer beat all ingredients together until smooth and thick. If the mixture seems runny add more vanilla pudding mix. Frost while the cake is still warm. Refrigerate until serving. Freezes well. Add the chocolate tefilin just before serving. Mazal Tov!