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15 delicious recipes for a sweet Jewish new year

15 Recipes
Apple honey challah
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Apples and honey are quintessential Rosh Hashanah foods. And they’re not just for dipping.

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Along with contemplation and gatherings with loved ones, the Jewish New Year — this year the start lands on Sept. 6 — is also a time to eat symbolic foods to represent one’s wishes for the coming year. The traditional gustatory representation of a sweet year is dipping apples in honey. But why stop there? You can incorporate one or both in any or every component of a meal.

If you think you are not a fan of honey cake, think again. Here are two approaches to honey cake for your consideration. Magical honey cake, like fine wine, improves with age and you only need to wait for seven days. Honey cake from the box, as the name implies, uses a cake mix, but not a honey-cake mix. After adding honey and spices, the result is more tender and moist than a typical honey cake. Perhaps add a dollop of apple and honey sorbet to the plate because, well, who doesn’t like cold and creamy alongside a slice of cake? Barley thumbprints with honey and lemon thyme would also be great with the sorbet or solo, and it is always good to have freshly baked cookies around during the holidays.

For Rosh Hashanah, challah is shaped into rounds to symbolize the cyclical nature of the year. Challah is also dipped in honey instead of the Shabbat practice of dipping challah into salt. Honey challah is brushed with a honey and water wash; apple and honey challah has the apple-honey duo – no additional dipping is needed for either.

But baking isn’t the only way to get apples and honey into your meal. Mix some honey into a dressing instead of sugar and toss a few apple slices into whatever salad you are already making. Or try a beet-apple-walnut salad, a beet and carrot “slaw” with honey and cinnamon or a wild arugula and orange salad with honey and za’atar.

Chicken is a popular Rosh Hashanah entrée. Roast it with thyme and honey or braise it with honey and olives and oregano or figs and vinegar. If your main dish doesn’t include honey, try a side of honeyed marinated eggplant from Hasiba or carrots with honey, lemon and thyme.

Which leads us back to that honey cake. Love it, hate it or just love to say you hate it — there are plenty of options to get your apple and honey fix another way.

Honey Cake From the Box

French vanilla-flavored boxed cake mix makes it easy to whip together this simple honey cake.
Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 8 to 10

Magical honey cake

This is a honey cake that improves with age. It is well-suited for more robust and unique honeys such as chestnut and acacia.
Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Makes 3 loaf cakes, about 12 servings each

Apple and honey sorbet with pomegranate sauce

Syrup made from fresh pomegranate juice, honey, green cardamom and a splash of Benedictine provides gorgeous color and a backdrop for the sweet apple and honey sorbet.
Time 40 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Barley thumbprints with honey and hazelnuts

Whole-grain barley flour is combined with toasted hazelnuts, honey and citrus zest, all of which give you a supremely fragrant cookie.
Time 50 minutes
Yields Makes about 32 (2-inch) cookies.

Honey challah

Brushed with a honeyed egg wash and formed into a circle after braiding, this challah is perfect for Rosh Hashanah. Serve it with honey for dipping.
Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes 1 large challah (at least 15 servings)

Apple and honey challah

This Rosh Hashana challah is reworked from a long braid into a spiral to call to mind the cycle of life. It also incorporates apples and honey as a symbol of a sweet new year.
Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 10

Chicken thighs with honey, olives and oregano

Even though some sources say that the honey of the Bible was made of dates, grapes, figs or carobs, dishes sweetened by honey are a frequent feature of Rosh Hashana fare.
Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 6

Chicken Braised With Figs, Honey and Vinegar

Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe uses vinegar to play off of the sweetness of honey to make a sour-sweet sauce that is drizzled over the braised chicken and figs.
Time Active work time: 15 minutes Total preparation time: 1 hour, plus 12 hours chilling
Yields Serves 4

Roast Chicken With Thyme and Honey

Jewish cookbook author Leah Koenig uses a mix of fresh herbs and aromatic vegetables to soak up the drippings as the chicken roasts and the honey caramelizes. It's divine!
Time 55 minutes
Yields Serves 6

Wild arugula and orange salad with baked feta, honey and za’atar

Baking intensifies the flavor of the feta, making it a good match for the sweet honey and spice that are drizzled on the base salad of arugula, red onion and oranges.

Beet and Carrot 'Slaw' With Honey and Cinnamon

This carrot and beet slaw is crunchy, refreshing and tasty -- and no cooking is required, as beets are delicious raw. Use it to quickly and creatively dress up casual meals.
Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 12 to 14

Beet-apple-walnut salad

Beets and apples are tossed with Gorgonzola cheese and dressed with a Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with caramelized walnuts.
Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Hasiba’s Honeyed Marinated Eggplant

Chefs Or Amsalam and Alexander Phaneuf of cult hummus joint Hasiba serve a must-order marinated eggplant that you can now make at home.
Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 8 to 10

Carrots with honey, lemon zest and thyme

The astringent fresh thyme, aromatic lemon zest and slightly bitter honey coax a depth of flavor out of the carrots that is unexpected in such a simple preparation.
Time 35 minutes
Yields Serves 4