Creative Rosh Hashana desserts by ‘Sweet Genius’

Forget the usual apples with honey; Chef Amos Hayon shows Rosh Hashana desserts don’t have to be boring.

Amos Hayon 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Amos Hayon)
Amos Hayon 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Amos Hayon)
Forget the usual apples with honey. Rosh Hashana desserts don’t have to be boring.
That’s what Amos Hayon—an Israeli pastry chef at Lola Restaurant in the Great Neck neighborhood on Long Island, NY—believes. Amos appeared on an episode of the Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” program in 2011. He took home the $10,000 prize after competing against three other chefs and completing three challenges that include using mystery ingredients and creating a theme-inspired dessert. Read more about Amos at
Here are six unique Rosh Hashana-inspired desserts, courtesy of Amos:
Apples with Dried Fruit and Marzipan Serves 88 green apples, peeled and cored 200 g (7.05 oz) good-quality marzipan
The dry fruit filling:
1/2 cup chopped pecans1/2 cup almonds1/2 cup pine nuts1/2 cup raisins1/2 cup chopped dates1/2 cup white sugar2 tablespoon honey1 egg white1 tablespoon margarine
1. Mix together in a medium sized bowl all the dried fruit filling filling ingredients into a mixture consistency.2. Take the apples and fill them inside with the mixture.3. Take the marzipan, break it into 8 balls and roll out flat. Individually cover each apple with the flattened marzipan.4. Place the apples in a 13” x 9” fire-resistant baking dish.6. Pour into the dish about 300ml (1.25 cups) of white wine.7. Place the apples in the oven at 320 degrees (F) for 60-90 minutes until the apples soften.8. Place the apples on a serving plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Serve with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream.
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Bread pudding with caramelized apples Serves 10-12
6 green apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium sized cubes 1 cup sugar½ cup water1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon nutmeg1 teaspoon ground cardamom1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon butter2 tablespoon cornstarch
Ingredients for bread pudding:
1 pound dried white bread cut into cubes2 cups heavy cream2 cups milk1 cup sugar5 medium eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for streusel mixture:
1 ½ cups white flour1/2 cup of brown sugar1/2 cup of melted butter1 teaspoon cinnamonPeel from 1 lemon1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Boil sugar and water in a large skillet pot over high heat until you get dark caramel.2. Cook the apple cubes in the caramel mixture for about 10 minutes.3. When the apple consistency is nearly liquid, add the vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, ground cardamom and the butter, and continue to cook together over medium heat.4. In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with a ½ cup cold water and add apples to caramel pot.5. Continue to cook another 5 minutes until the apple caramel mixture condenses. Remove it from the heat and cool in room temperature.6. In a medium sized bowl, mix the milk, heavy cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. When the batter is smooth, add the bread cubes.7. Let the bread absorb in the batter for about 20 minutes.8. Line a 13”x 9” fire-resistant baking dish with baking paper.9. Move the bread pudding mixture into the dish.10. Now place the caramelized apples on top of the pudding.11. In a separate bowl mix all the ingredients for the streusel until you get crumbling dough with a sandy consistency.12. Spread the streusel crumbs on top of the caramelized apples.13. Bake in 350F degree oven for one hour.14. Sprinkle powdered sugar and cinnamon on top and serve with vanilla ice cream.Pear and Almond Pie Serves 8-10
4 cored pears cut into four even segments.
Ingredients for the pie dough:
1/2 cup of white sugar2 sticks of margarine, diced into cubes2 egg yolks2 1/2 cups white sifted flour1/2 cup of almond flour
Ingredients for the Almond cream:
1 cup + 1 tablespoon butter or margarine1/2 cup of white sugar1 whole egg1 Egg yolk½ cup of almond flour4 tablespoons of white flour1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for the Royal Icing:
3/4 cup heavy cream1 egg1 tablespoon sugar
Pie dough directions:
1. Using a flat-paddle beater, mix the dry ingredients, white flour, almond flour and sugar in the bowl mixer.2. Mix the margarine cubes into the dry ingredients until you get a sandy consistency.3. Now mix 2 egg yolks into the mixture until you get dough. When you see all the ingredients turn to dough stop. It is very important not to over mix.4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.5. Roll out the dough, place into the pie dish and perforate the dough with a fork. Place the pie dish with the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Royal Icing directions:
1. With a whisk mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
Almond cream directions
1. Beat the eggs with the sugar for 5 minutes.2. Add the soft butter, almond flour, white flour and vanilla extract into the mixer.3. Mix until smooth.
Making the Pie
1. Pour the almond cream into the pie dough.2. Cover entire pie with the pear quarters.3. Pour the Royal icing on top.4. Sprinkle almonds in the margins.5. Bake in a preheated 350F degree oven for 35 minutes, at the bottom of the oven.6. Serve with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream.
Caramelized apples and cinnamon cake serves 10-12
Ingredients for preparing the caramelized apples:
5 green apples, peeled, cored and small diced 1/2 cup brown sugar3 tablespoons water2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Ingredients for the mixture:
2 cups white flour6 tablespoons almond flour1 teaspoon baking powder3/4 cups white sugar1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup butter or margarine4 medium eggs1 teaspoon vanilla1/3 cup sour cream
1. Place the sugar and water in a heavy frying pan over high heat and begin to make the caramel. When the caramel is dark and starts to smoke, reduce the heat and add the apples. Mix the apples so they’re completely covered with caramel.2. Add the butter to the pan, mix, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.3. Mix the dry ingredients-- white flour, almond flour, salt, white sugar and baking powder in a bowl mixer using a flat paddle beater.4. Add the remaining butter, eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream to the mixer.5. Mix all the ingredients together in the mixer until smooth.6. Grease a 9-inch round baking dish all over, including bottom and sides, and spread the caramelized apples all over the bottom of the dish.7. Pour the mixture from the mixer on the apples.8. Bake for 50 minutes in 350F degree oven.9. Poke a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean and dry, take the cake out and let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes.10. Remove the cake from the baking dish by turning it over so that the cake is upside down and the apples are on top. Sprinkle powdered sugar and cinnamon on top.
Rich honey cake Makes 2 loafs
Ingredients for bowl # 1
1 cup high quality honey½ cup water1/4 cup apple cider1 tablespoon baking powder1 teaspoon baking soda1 medium egg 1 egg yolk
Ingredients for bowl # 2
2 1/2 cups sifted white flour
Ingredients for bowl # 3
1/2 cup raisins soaked in three tablespoons brandy1/2 cup walnuts1/2 cup water1 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon clove1/4 teaspoon nutmegPinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.2. In a bowl mixer using a flat paddle beater mix the ingredients in bowl #1 for a minute.3. Add the sifted white flour and mix for another minute.4. Add the ingredients from Bowl #3; continue to mix all the ingredients together until smooth.5. Grease two loaf pans and split the mixture between the two.6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cakes are brown and elastic to the touch. Poke with a toothpick. If it comes out clean and dry, remove from oven and let the cakes cool at room temperature.7. Remove the cakes from the pan, slice and serve with whipped cream or frosting.
Panna cotta in honey syrup Makes 9
Step 1
Boil together (see below):6 cups whole milk2/3 cup heavy cream1 cup white sugar
Step 2
In a bowl mix:1 cup of whole milk4 tablespoons cornstarch
Step 3
In a bowl mix:2/3 cup milk3 tablespoons gelatin
Boil the ingredients from step 1 in a medium sized pot. The more the mixture boils, the better it will taste but be careful not to burn the milk. Once the mixture is boiled, add the ingredients from step 2. Continue to mix on medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl the ingredients of step 3.
Mix everything together into a smooth mixture, pass through a strainer to remove leftover remnants of cornstarch and gelatin. Pour into 4oz disposable aluminum dishes and refrigerate for at least about 4 hours.
Amos suggests making the Panna Cota a day in advance
Ingredients for the honey syrup:
3/4 cup of high-quality honey2 tablespoons sugarPinch of lemon salt1/2 cup water
Boil all ingredients together in a convenient pot for 15 minutes.Cool about 1 hour at room temperature, and then store in the refrigerator.