Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is nothing like New Year’s. It is a solemn holiday, “The Day of Judgment,” when, according to tradition, God examines our deeds over the past year and decides – but does not yet seal – our fate for the upcoming year. We then have ten days – the Days of Repentance – to pray and repent our sins. Ten days after Rosh Ha’shanah, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, God seals our fate.
I often say, only half-jokingly, that Jews have a way of taking life way too seriously, but Rosh Hashanah is not just about praying and repenting. It is also about renewal, hope, and celebrating the New Year.
One of our Rosh Ha’Shana customs is eating sweet foods, such as apple slices dipped in honey and honey cakes. When eating these sweet foods, we say a blessing that goes something like, “May Our New Year Be As Sweet as Honey.”
Honey cake is a moist, dense, dark colored cake, sweetened with honey instead of sugar and flavored with spices such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves or nutmeg. If you like spice cake, you will probably like the Jewish honey cake. Personally, I’m not too fond of the traditional honey cake, and my kids feel the same, so I’ve developed a recipe for frosted honey cupcakes that are closer to traditional cupcakes than to a traditional honey cake, although they still have a distinct honey flavor, and a denser texture. If you like honey, the frosting is absolutely phenomenal.
I am closing comments on this post because Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow night, and I’m insanely busy preparing. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I wish you a happy, sweet New Year.
Recipe: Honey Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 18 cupcakes
Nonstick cooking spray
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey (215 grams)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted in the microwave, then slightly cooled
1/3 cup whole milk
8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius).
2. Line muffin tin with liners and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, beat eggs using a hand whisk. Gradually add the following ingredients, one by one, and keep mixing until blended: sugar, honey, butter, and finally milk.
5. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture.
6. Fill muffin cups half full. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (I baked mine 22 minutes). Cool in pan about 10 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Frost with honey cream cheese frosting: Using an electric mixer on medium setting, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined, then add the honey and beat until combined, creamy and fluffy.
These honey cupcakes keep well in the fridge for several days. Just take them out of the fridge an hour before serving to maximize texture and flavor.