Blueberry and Apple Borekas with Honey Tahini

  

Blueberry and Apple Borekas

It’s probably a bit of a stretch to call these borekas because I originally introduced them to my readers as one of our favorite savory Turkish bites. And it’s not every day you think of sweet borekas. Truth be told, I am a savory lover at heart. But this once city girl, who now lives within minutes of farmland—driving by horses, cows, dairy farms and wild apple trees—counts her blessings and happily picks blueberries at a nearby farm.

Whether we’ll call them borekas or not, these little pastries are fast, easy and perfectly sweet for the Jewish New Year. And as a perfect finger food for a Yom Kippur break fast, I made blueberry and apple borekas with a sweet tahini honey glaze.

Another usual savory bite, tahini is an ingredient I use for just about everything: dressings, dips and spreads, and naturally don’t see it used as a sweet ingredient. Tahini is mixed with a bit of honey and warm water and with a bit of elbow grease, turns into a beautiful pour-able consistency.

Wishing you a wonderful and sweet New Year and an easy fast! L’shana Tovah!

Blueberry and Apple Borekas with Honey Tahini
Yields 18 borekas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped and peeled apples, cut into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar + more sugar for sprinkling on top
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract/paste or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
  • Flour for dusting on surface
  • 1 egg + water for egg wash

 

Tahini Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup warm water

 

Directions:

1. First make the filling. In a bowl, add together the cubed apples, blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Toss everything together and allow to sit while you prepare the puff pastry.

2. Unfold puff pastry on a floured surface and roll out a bit so the pastry is a bit thinner.

3. Then cut pastry sheet into nine even squares (18 total for both sheets) and add about a tablespoon of filling to each square.

4. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and then folding the dough together making a little pouch. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges and it’s OK if you stretch the dough a bit, the fruit will shrink as it bakes.

5. Brush more egg wash on top of the folded pastry and sprinkle with more sugar. Use a knife to cut little skits on the top.

6. Place borekas on lined baking sheet and bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling begins to ooze out and the pastry is golden brown.

7. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit while you make tahini glaze.

8. To make the tahini glaze, in a bowl add the tahini and honey and 1/4 cup warm water. Use a fork or whisk to whisk everything together until it is smooth and pour-able. As it sits, it will get firmer so you can add a bit more warm water and mix until desired consistency.

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

  

Ruegelach display

As Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year, it’s a fine time to share my beloved recipe for rugelach. Before I became Jewish, I had always loved the Christmas cookie baking traditions—from the aromas that filled the house to all the flavors and textures of the different cookies. And all the sampling, of course. Celebrating my first Hanukkah made me yearn for a sweet little bite to bake for the holiday. Hanukkah-themed sugar cookies fell way short, as did a few other strategies. Then I came upon rugelach (the name for which likely comes from the Yiddish word for “royal”). These American-Jewish delicacies that are part cookie and part pastry captured my baking heart, and I’ve made this recipe every year since. It beautifully combines a delicate texture with the comforting flavors of cinnamon, pecans and a kiss of apricot. Rugelach would go well on any cookie tray and a tin full of these makes a wonderful gift.

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Reprinted with permission from “Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life” by Marcia Friedman

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ÂĽ cup plus 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ÂĽ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ½ cup apricot preserves at room temperature
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk

 

Topping:

  • 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Cream the cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and light. Add ÂĽ cup granulated sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Add a little additional flour if needed to make it cohesive.

2. Divide it into four equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball on a large piece of plastic wrap, gently press into a disk shape, and then enclose in the plastic. Repeat with the other three balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes.

3. Make the filling by combining 6 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, Âľ tsp. cinnamon and the pecans. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Rugelach prep

4. Remove one disk from the refrigerator; unwrap and place dough on a floured surface. Gently roll into an approximate 9-inch circle. Spread a generous ½ Tbsp. of the apricot preserves over the dough to about ¼ inch from the edge. Sprinkle evenly with a scant ½ cup of brown-sugar filling and gently press. Cut the circle into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide edge, roll up each triangle. Place the formed pastries seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or freeze for about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Make the topping by combining the 1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar and the ½ tsp. cinnamon.

7. Brush each pastry with the egg and milk mixture, and sprinkle lightly with sugar-cinnamon topping. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until well browned. Remove from oven, and let rest on the cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring rugelach to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Rugelach bake

Yield: 48 rugelach

Note: Assembled pastries can be frozen and baked at a later time. Defrost partially before placing in oven, and allow extra time for baking.