September 29, 2008

Special new year foods


We Jews like to wish for a sweet new year, and we embody our wishes by eating sweet foods during the holiday. We make special round challot, sweetened with honey and studded with raisins, that look like crowns. We dip apples in honey. Jews from all over the world have special new year's dishes they cook up to bring in the new year. Here is one of my favorites -- Sephardic travados, pastries filled with ground walnuts and boiled in a honey-sugar syrup, which I learned from a Sephardic friend from Hadassah. They're a lot of work, but if you like to bake and can handle finicky details, you'll enjoy making travados.

Travados

(Yields about 100 small pastries)

Filling:
3 cups walnuts
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, finely grind walnuts and sugar. Add eggs and cinnamon and process to combine. Remove to another bowl and set aside.

Dough:
1 1/2 cups oil
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
6 cups flour (can be a mix of white and whole wheat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Process all ingredients in a food processor to mix ingredients well. Dough should be soft to handle.

On a lightly floured board, flatten a small piece of dough into a round 2 inches in diameter. Place a heaping half-teaspoon of filling in the center and fold over one side to make a half-moon shape. Crimp edges carefully to seal in filling. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool.

Syrup:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups honey
1 1/2 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon
Sesame seeds

In a deep pot, heat all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Working in batches, drop cooled travados in pot a few at a time, depending on the size of the pot. Allow syrup to boil over them for 2 minutes. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set on a baking tray that you have lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat with next batches.

Store in a covered bowl or cookie tin. Yes, I know the recipe yields about 100 pastries, but they are so good and keep for so long that you will find reasons to serve them to your family and friends.

Rik says “These are the best ever!”

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