Cook | For a sweet year, consider the sour appleby josie a.g. shapiro
Rosh Hashanah desserts and I have a rocky history. I’m not a fan of honey cake — I mean, it’s fine, but it doesn’t make me want to shout. And baked apples, no matter how I try, have never been my thing. So this year I thought hard about apples and dessert, until it hit me. Sour apple candy! My best friend in grammar school had a candy cubby in her house — a kitchen drawer dedicated to stick-in-your teeth, processed sugar. When I was permitted to indulge, I would select sour apple Jolly Ranchers and neon green Laffy Taffy.
Now, 20-some years later, I remain candy curious with sour apple tendencies. Enter sour apple schnapps. Fright-eningly green. Perfectly sweet and sour. The schnapps is used as a flavoring in the dairy cupcakes and parve cake. Don’t worry, it’s boiled down first to remove all the alcohol. The result is an excellent, kid-friendly treat — fun, sweet and sour, and perfectly appropriate for the Jewish New Year. L’Shanah Tovah!
Sour Apple Flavoring
11⁄2 cups sour apple schnapps
Bring schnapps to a boil. Simmer, reducing by about a third, 10-12 minutes. Cool.
Sweet and Sour Apple Cupcakes (dairy)
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter
11⁄4 cups granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup sour cream
1⁄4 cup apple butter
1⁄3 cup sour apple flavoring
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
6 Tbs. cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
1⁄4 cup sour apple flavoring
5-6 drops red or green food coloring
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake tin. Line with cupcake wrappers. In a large bowl or standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the sour cream, apple butter and 1⁄3 cup sour apple flavoring until well mixed. Add in the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until just blended. Scoop into cupcake liners, distributing equally. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
For the cupcake icing: Whisk together butter, cream cheese and 1 cup powdered sugar. When blended, add remaining sugar. When smooth, add food coloring and pour in 1⁄4 cup sour apple flavoring to form a spreadable icing. Spoon 1 heaping Tbs. icing on each cupcake. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles. Refrigerate uncovered until icing firms up.
Sweet and Sour Apple Cake (Parve)
For the cake: Use cupcake ingredients in dairy recipe above, but substitute nondairy shortening sticks for the butter and Tofutti sour cream for the sour cream. Instead of using a cupcake tin, grease a 9-inch springform cake pan. Pour batter into cake pan and bake in preheated oven 38-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Sour Apple Icing (parve)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1⁄4 cup sour apple flavoring (see recipe, top)
4-5 drops red or green food coloring (optional)
For the cake icing: Sift powdered sugar into bowl with coconut oil. Stir in sour apple flavoring and food coloring until mixture is smooth. (Please do not try adapting the dairy version of the icing by substituting Tofutti cream cheese and margarine. Trust me, it does not work out well.)
When cake is cool, slide knife around edges and remove springform sides. Place on large sheet tray to catch icing overflow. Drizzle icing over cake using a ladle (gently drizzle) or a pastry bag with narrow tip. Decorate with sprinkles.
Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is http://www.thechickencontests.com.