In the Jewish tradition, the new year—Rosh Hashanah—begins at sundown this coming Wednesday. Ten days of celebration follow, ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the observant fast for twenty-four hours to atone for sins committed in the previous year. While I am by no means a religious person, I have always appreciated the rituals and simple pleasures of these days―communal prayers at sunset, family gatherings, a trip to the river to wash away one’s sins, and the ceremonial blowing of the shofar (a ram’s horn) at the end of Yom Kippur to signify the breaking of the fast. Lovely and in keeping with the seasons, it’s always made sense to me to begin the new year in fall, when the natural world is preparing to go dormant, when summer’s fruits and vegetables have been harvested and carefully prepared for winter storage, and when we settle in for a quiet winter. Sunrise to sunset. I love it.
Apples dipped in honey are a tradition at Rosh Hashanah. Eating sweets symbolises hope for the new year ahead. These Baked Apples with Nuts, Spices, Ginger and Honey are a modern twist on the tradition. Golden apples are carved and filled with slivers of crystallized ginger, cinnamon, chopped nuts and honey, then roasted in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness. I like them warm from the oven. Or, dress them up with a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar and a few sprigs of fresh mint.
Happy New Year. May you enjoy a sweet and fulfilling year ahead.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
BAKED APPLES WITH NUTS, SPICES, GINGER AND HONEY
Yield: 8 Servings
- ½ cup pine nuts or tree nuts, toasted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup crystallized ginger, cut into thin slivers
- ¾ cup honey
- 8 golden apples, Golden Delicious or Pippin
- Confectioner’s sugar and fresh mint, for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and crystallized ginger. Set aside.
- Slice off the top part of each of the apples, just below the stem. Using a sharp knife or corer, remove the cores. Place the apples in a baking pan large enough to hold them upright.
- Stuff the apples with the prepared nut and spice mixture. Drizzle them evenly with the honey. Replace the apple tops.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown and soft, about 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Serve apples straight from the oven or garnished with confectioner’s sugar and fresh mint.
- You can use a different apple variety, if you prefer. Just be sure to select a variety that will hold up to baking, such a Granny Smith. Different varieties have varying level of natural sweetness, so adjust the amount of honey as needed.
- For a richer dessert, serve the baked apples with Crunchy Granola Squares or Delicate Anise Shortbread. They are also good for breakfast with Homemade Yogurt or a hot bowl of oatmeal.
- This recipe was adapted from Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook by Alain Coumont and Jean-Pierre Gabriel.