The apple, even more than the bibical pomegranate, has become the symbolic first fruit to be eaten during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which will be observed at sundown, Wednesday, Sept. 15.
During Rosh Hashanah, tradition calls for a perfect apple to be pared and cut into as many pieces as there are people present. A piece of the apple is dipped in honey and passed to each person at the table before the meal begins to symbolize a sweet and joyous New Year.
Apples go into the making of countless dishes in most countries throughout the world for this holiday, and they often are included in every course. So let apples and honey dominate your dessert table this year.
The pie crust for the Apple Meringue Tart is made from a cookie-like dough, which is rolled and baked, then filled with honey-glazed apples and garnished with a toasted meringue topping.
The Apple Upside-Down Cake is a simple version of Tart Tartin, a wonderful French apple dessert.
Everyone loves homemade cookies and the combination of spices -- ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg -- compliment the Honey-Glazed Apple Cookies, making it impossible to eat just one cookie. This recipe makes six or seven dozen depending on the size of the cookies.
To ensure a "good and sweet year" add these apple desserts to your Rosh Hashanah menu, along with the tradition of serving sliced apples dipped in honey.
A Word About Apples
- Look for apples that are firm and bright in color. Avoid any that feel soft or have bruised areas.
- Depending on the variety, apples will keep two weeks or more in the refrigerator.
- After slicing, green apples do not turn brown as rapidly as red apples.
- Cook apples in a noncorroding saucepan: stainless steel, enamel or glass.
- Peel apples with a stainless steel vegetable peeler or knife.
- Granny Smith and Pippin apples are firm and tart and require more baking or cooking time; they also require more sugar.
- Red or Golden Delicious apples need less sugar and take less time to cook.
- Roman Beauty apples hold their shape and are good for baking.
Apple Meringue Tart
1 (11-inch) sweet pastry crust (recipe follows)
8 to 10 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
Lemon juice and grated peel
1 cup apple juice or water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
Prepare sweet pastry crust and bake according to directions.
In a glass baking dish, place sliced apples in a single layer. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
In a heavy saucepan, combine apple juice, sugar, apricot preserves and juice and rind of one lemon. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring syrup to a boil and simmer for five minutes or until thickens. Pour over apples and bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes or until apples are soft but firm. Cool.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar, salt and continue beating until whites are stiff, not dry. Add sugar, a little at a time, beating well until stiff peaks. Fill pastry tube with meringue, using (48) rosette tube.
With a slotted spoon, transfer cooled apple slices to baked pie crust. Cover surface of apples completely with meringue. Bake for 10-15 minutes or place under broiler for a few minutes, or until meringue is lightly browned.
Sweet Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons milk or water
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Blend in the milk until the dough begins to come together. Do not over-mix. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap it in waxed paper and chill it for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
Roll pastry out, on two large sheets of floured waxed paper, to a round large enough to cover and overlap an 11-inch flan pan with a removable bottom. For easier handling, cover the pastry with another sheet of waxed paper and fold pastry in half. (The waxed paper protects the center of pastry from sticking together.)
Lift the pastry from the bottom waxed paper and place on half of the flan pan. Unfold the pastry and remove the waxed paper that covers it. (At this point the pastry can be covered with plastic wrap and foil and stored in the refrigerator or freeze for several days.)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Bring the pastry to room temperature. Spread a light coating of butter on a sheet of waxed paper and place it, coated side down, inside of the pastry, overlapping around the outside. Cover with another piece of waxed paper with the cut ends in the opposite direction. Fill the center of the waxed paper lined pie shell with uncooked rice or bakers jewels. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the sides of the pastry begin to brown. Carefully remove the waxed paper with the rice and continue baking until the bottom of the pastry is lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool.
Makes one (11-inch) Pie Crust.
Apple Upside-Down Cake
Honey and apples make this simply delicious Upside-Down Apple Cake symbolic of the New Year.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing cake pan
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large tart apples, (Granny Smith or Pippin), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups sifted dark brown sugar, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
For Topping: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place butter and cook over medium-high heat until foamy. Add honey and sugar and stir to combine, cooking until sugar dissolves, swirling pan occasionally. Add apples and fold with spatula to coat apples. Cook until apples have softened slightly Remove pan from heat and transfer apples, to a flat plate. Return pan to heat and cook syrup until thick and reserve. When apples are cool enough to handle, arrange apples in the prepared pan in a circular pattern.
For Cake: In a small bowl, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add butter and beat until crumbly, then add sour cream and beat until dry ingredients are moistened. Add egg mixture and beat until batter is well blended and fluffy.
Spoon batter over apples and gently spread out to an even layer that covers apple. Bake until cake is dark golden brown, and a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in center, 35-40 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for five minutes. Loosen sides with a sharp knife.
Place serving plate over top of pan and invert cake so apples are on top. Let cake sit inverted for about 1 minute. Gently remove pan and peel off parchment paper. Just before serving sprinkle with sifted brown sugar, place under the broiler and broil until sugar begins to turn dark brown.
Serve about 10.
Honey-Glazed Apple Cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 cup roasted, chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 cups chopped apples (1 large apple)
1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup apple juice
Honey-Apple Juice Glaze (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Prepare the Honey-Apple Juice Glaze and set aside.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and smooth. Then beat in the brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add half of the flour mixture, then walnuts, apples and raisins and mix well. Blend in apple juice then remaining flour mixture, mixing well. Drop, by rounded tablespoonful, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets. Flatten the mounds slightly with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. While cookies are still hot, spread thinly with Honey-Apple Juice Glaze.
Makes about five- to six-dozen cookies.
Honey-Apple Juice Glaze
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter or margarine
2 1/2 tablespoons apple juice
In a small bowl, blend powdered sugar, honey, butter, salt and apple juice until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Makes about 1 cup.
Judy Zeidler is the author of "The Gourmet Jewish Cook" (Cookbooks, 1988) and "The 30-Minute Kosher Cook" (Morrow, 1999) Her Web site is members.aol.com/jzkitchen. l
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