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Baked apples offer sweet start to Jewish new year

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Like many Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashana -- the Jewish new year -- is rich with delicious, symbolic foods. Rounds of challah bread, for example, signify continuity, while apples and honey represent wishes for a sweet year to come. Of course, just as important is spending time with loved ones.

So we created a dish to satisfy both the traditional food customs and the desire to spend time with family. Baked stuffed apples have the both the honey and the apples for the sweetness, yet take little effort to make.

The method is so simple, even the children can help. Adults can core the apples while the kids make the filling and stuff them. Let them get their hands dirty by breaking the walnuts, chopping the dates (if they're old enough), and mixing the filling by kneading it together in a bowl. The result is a sweet and satisfying dessert that isn't laden with butter.

Taking cues from the Mediterranean, we flavoured the filling with orange and mint. It makes for a great contrast to the otherwise sweet blend of honey and dates. If you don't have (or don't like) dates, other dried fruit will work just as well. Try dried chopped apricots or raisins. The same goes for the walnuts. Substitute another variety of nut or leave them out altogether.

 

Baked Honey-Date Apples

6 baking apples, such as Fuji or Gala
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and broken
3/4 cup chopped dates
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Heat the oven to 350 F. Mist a 9x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Core the apples using an apple corer or a melon baller, leaving the apple otherwise whole. Scoop out a little bit of extra apple at the centre to create a cavity inside about the size of a walnut. Arrange the apples standing upright in the prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts, dates, orange zest, honey and mint. Knead the mixture together with your hands until it is well combined. Spoon some of the mixture into the cavity of each the apple, packing it into the centre. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the apple is tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife.

Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active)

Servings: 6

Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories; 60 calories from fat (23 per cent of total calories); 7 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 43 g sugar; 3 g protein; 0 mg sodium.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2013 C6

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