Rosh Hashanah is typically a time of optimism and self-reflection. And while the foods for the holiday often are symbolic of a sweet and pleasant year to come, it's hard for some of us not to reflect on the negative effect a sugary, rich dish will have on our waistlines.
These worries don't have to stop you from celebrating this year's new beginning with a suitably sweet treat.
Desserts made with fruits are the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth without loading up on traditional diet busters like fat and processed sugars.
These challah bread apple summer puddings feature a crispy, golden crust made with thin slices of the traditional Jewish celebration loaf, along with a filling of apples and honey, two Rosh Hashanah mainstays. And rather than being made rich with a stick of butter and a lot of white sugar, these desserts are made with sweet, natural apple butter.
Apple butter is a mixture of apples, cider, sugar and spices that is slow cooked until thick, smooth and caramelized. The thick, buttery consistency makes it a good spread for breads, a condiment or an ingredient in baking. Look for it with the jellies and jams in most markets.
Health-minded cooks have been using applesauce to cut fat in baked goods for a long time, but the complex spiciness of apple butter adds even more depth of flavor, along with a subtle, rounded sweetness that allows you to omit some of the processed sugar, as well.
Most fruit butters and purees can work well as a substitute for some of the fat in baking because they contain plenty of pectin, which is a natural thickener and has the kind of slippery mouth feel that fats bring to foods.
Serve challah bread apple summer puddings hot out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Challah Bread Apple Summer Puddings
Start to finish: 50 minutes (20 minutes active)
8 teaspoons sugar
20 very thin slices challah bread
4 cups peeled and grated Golden Delicious apples (about 4 to 5 large apples)
1 cup apple butter
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
Heat oven to 400 F. Lightly coat eight 6-ounce custard cups or other ramekins with cooking spray. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to each cup and swirl to coat the inside.
Lay 8 slices of bread on a work surface. With a cookie cutter or a small glass, cut out 8 circles just large enough to fit in bottoms of custard cups. Trim crusts from the remaining 12 slices of bread, then cut slices into rectangles or squares. Use pieces to line sides of ramekins, overlapping slightly to completely line sides. Set aside.
In a bowl, stir together apples, apple butter, raisins, honey and lemon zest. Spoon mixture into bread-lined cups. Press filling down into cups, smoothing tops. Set puddings on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bread is lightly browned on sides and bottom. Run a knife around inside of each cup and invert onto dessert plates. Serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 461 calories; 57 calories from fat (12 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (2 g saturated; o g trans fats); 51 mg cholesterol; 93 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 6 g fiber; 501 mg sodium.