Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Sweet Streamlined New Year

Tomorrow night begins Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Now, as many kinds and versions and opinions of Judaism exist, you're going to find as many different takes on the High Holy Days. But if I may add my own opinion (as the ex-husband of a rabbi, if that actually counts for anything), Rosh Hashana is the time to begin reflection on your past year's actions and think of how you want to be a better person for the coming year. It's less about the classic New Year resolutions ("I want this to happen") and more about personal accountability ("I won't do things this way, but rather that way.")

But even though it's about our own actions, it doesn't mean there's not some festivities among the hours of reflection. One of the main traditions is to dip apples in honey, thereby ensuring a sweet new year. That simple bit of nibble (which is actually pretty healthy) has been co-opted and transformed into honey based baked goods.

Traditional Jewish honey cake can vary from something equivalent to a rum fruitcake to the overly sweet but dry cake we try very hard to avoid.

I've made some mega ingredient cakes, but I thought it might be nice to find something I could share with friends and coworkers and keep my own portion control easy to manage. So I went for honey cookies. 

I was figuring that applesauce would be a nice addition, both for cutting the shortening and adding that nice apple flavor.

I did a lot of research and found a lot of oatmeal based cookies, which I wasn't too keen on cooking (I eat enough oatmeal.) But then I found a recipe from the Canadian Honey Council via Beemaid Honey's recipe section. I was a little taken aback but intrigued: It uses a lot of honey but no sugar and very little shortening. The batter ends up cakelike and the cookies very soft.

They were honey-intense but not sweet. However, they really needed some kick and maybe a little crunch. I amped up the spices (adding several more) and sprinkled brown sugar on top before baking to add a sort of caramelized crunch. I also used unsweetened applesauce, so the brown sugar helped even that out.

The original recipe also called for raisins and nuts. I put neither in, but I do think chocolate chips would be awesome in these.

So here are my sweet concoctions:

L'Shana Tovah!

And here is my recipe:

The Streamlined Ska Librarian's Adapted Rosh Hashana Spice Cookies (inspired by The Canadian Honey Council's Applesauce Cookies)

1 cup honey
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp vanilla
brown sugar (for topping)
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (optional)
Cream honey and butter together. Add applesauce and eggs.
Sift dry ingredients together and add to honey mixture. Blend well.
Add vanilla and fold in chips and/or raisins (if using)
Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Flatten cookies and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes...until done.

Enjoy and may this coming season and year be sweet, fulfilling and worthwhile. And don't forget to dance!

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