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Do-It-Yourself Chanukah

Submitted by on December 9, 2009 – 10:47 PM2 Comments
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It’s that time of year again and if you’re off to a family Chanukah dinner, you know exactly what’s going to be on the menu.  Every year your mom makes the same roast chicken her mother used to make and her mother before her.  There will be salad and green beans and glazed onions and lots and lots of latkes.  Dessert will be honey cake, deep-fried jelly donuts  and your bubbe’s homemade apricot rugelach.   (She always makes extra for you to take home and that makes you happy.)

Your mother doesn’t really expect you to do much of anything except show up and snarf latkes, but why not surprise her this year by offering to bring something?  Tell her you’ll bring the applesauce and watch her face light up when you walk in with a bowl of chunky applesauce made with your own two hands instead of the jar of Mott’s she was probably expecting you to produce.

applesauceFoolproof Cinnamon Applesauce

-8 medium-size tart apples (like Fuji, McIntosh, Gravenstein).  Cut the apples into chunks.
-1 cup water
-1 cup granulated sugar
-¼ cup cinnamon candy (like Red Hots)


1. Peel and core the apples, then cut into chunks.
2. Put the apples and 1 cup of water into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender.
3. Remove from heat and mash the apples using a fork.  Don’t mush them completely smooth.
4. Return the pan to the stove and add the sugar and cinnamon candy.  Mix well and cook over low heat until the sugar and candies have melted.
5. The applesauce will be rosy I color.  Remove from heat and refrigerate until serving.

1840_MEDIUMA Honey of a Honey Cake

If you really want to make an impression, announce that you’ll be bringing the honey cake.  Again, everyone will be expecting you to make a stop at the bakery before you arrive and won’t they be surprised when you come bearing this luscious cake with a surprise ingredient—beer.

-½ cup butter, unsalted
-2 cups granulated sugar
-4 eggs (unbeaten)
-½ cup orange juice
-½ cup apple butter
-¾ cup honey
-4 cups flour
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. baking soda
-¼ tsp. salt
-1 tsp. nutmeg
-½  tsp. ground cloves
-1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. allspice
-1 cup of beer (any kind)
-1 cup golden raisins (or regular, but golden look nicer)
-½ cup black walnuts

1. Preheat your oven to 325.
2. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after adding each egg.
3. Add the orange juice, apple butter and honey.  Mix everything together.
4. In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
5. Add ½ the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.  Stir in.  Pour in the beer.  Stir in.
6. Add remaining ½ of dry ingredients.  Add the raisins and walnuts.  (Be sure to coat them in a little flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake.)
7. Pour the batter into a tube pan sprayed with Pam.
8. Bake for 90 minutes at 325.
9. Remove from oven and brush a little extra honey over the top of the cake or dust with confectioner’s sugar.

The Chanukah feast is traditionally rich, so you’ll need to serve a beer that has an edge to it.  The key is maltiness without too much bitterness.  Try Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager, which is certified kosher.

With dessert, especially if it’s chocolate, try He’brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (aka Jewbelation 13) from 13-year-old Schmaltz Brewing Company.  This limited edition kosher quaff is a richly complex Imperial Stout (13 kinds of malt and 13 different kind) with an ABV of 13 %.