Honey Cake with Silan and Spices (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Honey Cake with Silan and Spices (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Sweet, spicy and crunchy updates to classic Rosh Hashanah desserts

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Two traditional Eastern European Jewish desserts made with honey are getting a makeover for the High Holidays — and both provide plenty of sweetness for the New Year.

The honey cake is based on my Aunt Lee’s recipe. I’ve added spices and substituted silan (date syrup) for half of the honey, for flavor.

Teiglach (or taiglach or teglach) recipes vary, but it’s usually a tower of small cookies with dried fruits and nuts coated in honey syrup. This recipe substitutes popcorn for the cookies.

Honey Cake with Silan and Spices

Serves 12

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil plus extra for pan
  • 2 cups flour plus extra for pan
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves
  • 6 Tbs. honey
  • 6 Tbs. silan (see note)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • Additional silan or honey for serving, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour an 8-by-8-inch pan.  Separate eggs. Reserve yolks for another use. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, salt, cayenne and cloves. Mix in ⅓ cup oil, honey, silan, lemon juice and water. Gently mix in one-third of the egg whites at a time until combined.  Pour into prepared pan. Scatter almonds on top.

Bake about 27 to 37 minutes until the top is well set but not firm, cake has pulled away from the pan and a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. (Do not overbake.) Place pan on wire rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn cake onto a plate. Flip onto rack, nut side up. Make up to 2 days in advance. Store air tight at room temperature. Before serving, garnish with lemon zest and cut into 12 slices. If desired, serve cake with drizzle of silan.

Note: Silan (date honey, date syrup or date molasses) is available online, in specialty stores, and in Middle Eastern and kosher markets. If not available, substitute honey.

Popcorn “Teiglach” Treats (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Popcorn “Teiglach” Treats

Makes 8

  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (see notes)
  • 8 cups plain, unsalted popped popcorn (see notes)
  • ½ cup chopped dried apples or dried apricots (cut into ¼-inch pieces)
  • ½ cup total raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries and/or dried blueberries
  • ½ cup slivered or chopped almonds, or other nuts
  • Vegetable oil

Place 8 cupcake liners (paper or foil) in a cupcake tin, or in custard cups or similar.

In a large pot, combine honey, corn syrup, ginger, lemon juice, salt and cayenne. Stir well. Bring to a simmer over low-to-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let cook for 1 to 2 minutes without stirring until very hot and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in popcorn, apples or apricots, raisin-berry mix and almonds. Stir well until evenly combined, and popcorn mix is completely coated. Let cool for about 5 minutes until the mixture can be safely handled.

Use a large, oiled spoon to place one-eighth of the popcorn in each cupcake liner. Use spoon or oiled hands to press down on mixture. Shape top into a mound. Let cool. Store in a cool, dry area (not refrigerator) in cupcake tin covered loosely with wax paper. Treats should be served in and eaten out of cupcake liners. Make up to 12 hours in advance.

Notes: A pinch of cayenne equals about 1/16th of a teaspoon. Remove unpopped kernels before measuring popcorn.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].