Rosh Hashanah Desserts: A Fresh Take On New Year’s Sweets
Holiday Desserts Take Center Stage
By Amy Landsman
Photography By Kirsten Beckerman
Put a drop of honey on an apple slice, smell and take a bite. That’s usually all you need for those sweet New Year’s memories to start flooding back.
While honey cake, apple cake and apples with honey are always a treat, there are lots of ways to update the dessert selections without losing that Rosh Hashanah vibe.
Let’s face it, a lot of kids just don’t like honey cake.
Harriette Wienner of Reisterstown likes to capture the final sweet taste of summer for her holiday table, substituting peaches for apples.
“It’s our last homage to summer. Rosh Hashanah is usually mid-September. Peaches are just about to go out of season,” she says. “My mother has this amazing recipe for Jewish apple cake. I can’t even remember where the recipe came from. And we said one year ‘Let’s try it with peaches.’ Now it’s our Jewish peach cake.”
Wienner keeps with tradition by serving an apple dessert, but she mixes things up a little by serving cobbler instead of cake. The cobbler is a big hit with the whole family.
Wienner, her husband Steve and their kids Katie, 13, Jenny, 11 and 9-year-old Alex will head to her mom’s home in Pikesville for their big holiday meal.
“It’s my brother and sister and their families; my uncles are always there. My mom has a handful of friends she brings every year and her sister,” she says.
The Rosh Hashanah Table
Carrots cooked with honey are often found on the Rosh Hashanah table, as a symbol of good fortune ahead. In another update on tradition, carrots can be part of the dessert. A carrot-apple cake is a nice change of pace. A honey-based topping gives the cake a real new year’s flavor.
In addition to apples and honey, it’s also traditional to serve seasonal fruit not previously eaten that year, such as pomegranates. Not only are pomegranates one of the “new fruits” traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah, but they’re also rich in healthy antioxidants. Plus, they’re so pretty and they look great on holiday desserts.
A cheesecake topped with pomegranate sauce and a sprinkling of jewel-bright pomegranate seeds (officially called ‘arils’) is a showstopper. For more ideas, the “Pom” company has lots of good recipes on their website at pomwonderful.com .
In addition to eating new fruits, another Rosh Hashanah custom is to place the head of a fish on the table, symbolically reminding us to “be like the head (leaders) and not like the tail (followers).” Since her kids didn’t go for the idea of a fish head on the table, Wienner came up with a fun new tradition for her family. She decorates the holiday table with Swedish fish with the tails cut off.