How Sweet It Is: Apples and Honey for Rosh Hashanah

How Sweet It Is: Apples and Honey for Rosh Hashanah

In preparation for Rosh Hashanah, we’ve gathered recipes that incorporate apples and honey -- two key ingredients in meals celebrating Jewish New Year. While you can always dip apple slices in honey, we searched for other ways to enjoy these traditional elements of sweetness. Whether you celebrate Rosh Hashanah or not, we hope these recipes with apples and honey sound as sweet to you as they do to us.

Why Apples and Honey?

First, let’s explain why apples and honey are central to Rosh Hashanah. According to ReformJudaism.org, apples have traditionally been a symbol of the relationship between God and the Jewish people, and that honey was the most common source of sweetness in ancient times. The History Channel notes that apples were thought to aid in healing. Likewise, Smithsonian Magazine reveals that honey represents the sustenance given to the Israelites by God during the 40 years they spent wandering the desert.

Apples and Honey: Rosh Hashanah Recipes

As we mentioned earlier, you can always make it easy on yourself by slicing apples and dipping them in honey. Another tradition is to serve honey cake, but we discovered this isn’t usually a top favorite. We think sweet treats ought to be a part of the meal we look forward to, holiday or not. So we researched recipes that include apples and honey, and that sound delicious too.

Honey Apple Cake

Tori Avey is among our favorites where it comes to recipes suitable for Jewish holidays. She created a recipe for Honey Apple Cake precisely because she found traditional honey cake to be so unappealing. It’s a moist and delicious spice cake with plenty of honey, plus cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. You’ll also add four shredded Granny Smith apples, which are one of our favorite apple varieties for baking.

Bake this cake batter in a Bundt pan, and let it cool completely before dusting it with powdered sugar. Then drizzle it with glaze made from powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and non-dairy creamer. The recipe is pareve, meaning it’s both dairy-free and meat-free, so Jews who keep kosher can serve it with any meal.

Rosemary Honey Apple Galette

If you have a little more time and energy, this recipe we found on NPR is worth a try. While a galette is technically defined as a cake, we think of it more like a freeform pie. This galette features frangipane -- ground almonds, butter, and eggs, with a generous portion of honey -- as its base. Spread the frangipane over a rolled-out pie crust, and top it with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, and fold the edges of the pie crust over the outside of the ring of apples.

While it bakes, gently warm honey with butter, sugar, and rosemary in a saucepan on the stovetop. Then drizzle the rosemary-infused honey over the freshly-baked galette before serving. This galette is one Rosh Hashanah treat we’ll bet your guests haven’t seen before!

Apple, Goat Cheese, and Honey Tartlets

This recipe from Epicurious is another relatively simple one that looks more involved than it is. Use pre-made puff pastry to speed up the process. However, you’ll have to thaw the puff pastry to cut out the tartlet rings, and then refreeze those rings, so we advise planning accordingly.

The tartlet filling consists of goat cheese, fresh lemon juice, and kosher salt. Spread it over each ring of puff pastry, then top with sliced apples. The recipe specifies Gala apples, but we’re partial to Granny Smith for baking. However, if you want a sweeter apple to offset the tartness of the filling, try Honeycrisp apples which also hold their shape when baked. Brush the apples with a mixture of honey and melted butter, then sprinkle with allspice before baking. After baking, drizzle with more honey prior to serving.

Green Apple Soda

While this recipe from Kveller isn’t a dessert, it’s a fun treat for the kids. You could use packaged apple juice, but we prefer the methods in the recipe. Process your apples with either a juicer or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you’ll need to strain the liquid to filter out pulp. Then add honey, lemon juice, and water. Combine the apple and honey mixture with plain seltzer water to make soda. If your kids insist their soda needs to be green, a drop or two of food coloring will do the trick.