By Rachel Myerson, The Nosher
We’ve probably all tried various versions of lekach, or honey cake, over the years. While this Rosh Hashanah treat has for generations dictated dessert for many families, it’s often a disappointment: dry, crumbly or underwhelming. I have met a couple of lekachs I’ve liked, but never one I’ve loved.
This Rosh Hashanah, why not side shuffle from tradition and explore other — more delicious — honey-based desserts? From Nigella Lawson’s salted honey pie to honey and cardamom baklava, these treats will set your new year off on the sweetest of notes.
This four-ingredient confection balances the nutty savoriness of tahini with the sweetness of honey.
Homemade halvah is the perfect way to show off that fancy jar of honey you received as a hostess gift three years ago. With the help of a candy thermometer, is not as intimidating as it sounds. If you think you don’t like halvah because you’ve only tried the dry, crumbly stuff in individually packaged versions, think again.
It’s an entirely different (and infinitely more delicious) treat when you taste it fresh.
Adapted from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, this olive oil-based pastry houses a buttery, honey-heavy filling that’s sprinkled with flaky salt as soon as the pie comes out — bronze and burnished — from the oven. The salt helps offset the pie’s sweetness, though this is definitely a “just a sliver” situation, unless you have a seriously sweet tooth.
3. Taygalach (Ashkenazi Soaked Dough Balls)
Sweeten your year with this Old World treat, which Jewish food historians say dates back to Roman times.
Crunchy dough balls (often knotted) are boiled in honeyed syrup until soaked through and sticky. The dough is often mixed with walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds and candied cherries. Taygalach are sweet and indulgent, a true treat.
4. Ina Garten’s Honey Vanilla Pound Cake
While this is a cake with honey, it sure isn’t your classic honey cake — and it’s all the better for it. This is a straightforward pound cake with a subtle touch of honey for a little extra something. It’s as good after a meal as it is for breakfast the next day, and everyone will love it. The Barefoot Contessa does it again.
5. Honey and Cardamom Baklava
A spiced nut mixture encased in crisp phyllo dough soaked in a fragrant honey syrup, this showstopper dessert is surprisingly easy to put together. You’d have to be a masochist to make your own phyllo dough, and luckily there are great versions available in most supermarket freezers. This store-bought step saves tons of time.
6. Melomakarona (Greek Spiced Cookies)
These honey-soaked cookies are spiced with warm cinnamon and cloves, and brightened by lemon and orange zest.
They’re the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee as you linger with your loved ones around the holiday table.
This recipe makes a big batch — freeze some cookies for a later date or drop them on doorsteps to wish people a Shanah Tovah.
7. Ottolenghi’s Honey and Yogurt Cheesecake
This simple cheesecake can be made two days ahead — a handy recipe to have in your back pocket when Rosh Hashanah preparations amp up.
Greek yogurt’s tang tempers the sweetness of white chocolate in the filling, and thyme leaves emphasize honey’s herbal notes as they’re paired together in a runny topping for the final touch. A real crowd pleaser.