Confections With Fruits and Nuts For A Sweet Tu b’Shevat
It is the custom to eat fresh or dried fruit for Tu b’Shevat, an ancient agricultural holiday that is often called New Year of the Trees. Although there are no specific dishes that have traditionally been prepared for Tu b’Shevat, the custom of serving dishes that contain fruits and nuts has emerged. With a great assortment to choose from — and a little creativity — there are endless possibilities.
One of my favorite foods that I remember eating during this holiday is baked apples filled with nuts, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar and honey. It was almost always served after a family lunch that included several salads and a vegetable soup.
The perfect dessert to make for Tu b’Shevat — which falls on Feb. 4 this year — is Homemade Fig Bars. This recipe is so authentic, the bars look just like the ones in the Fig Newtons package at your local grocery store, only better. They feature homemade fig preserves inside a buttery, orange-scented cookie. Once the filling has been prepared, the Fig Bars are not time-consuming to make.
I love making Old-Fashioned Jam Cookies using a classic recipe from my 1988 cookbook “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” (William Morrow). These thumbprint cookies have been part of the family since our kids were young. I always make the dough in advance — just knead and cover with plastic wrap. When ready to serve, roll them out, dip in chopped nuts, press a hole in the center and bake. Just before serving, spoon dollops of fruit jam in the center.
Another pastry to serve for Tu b’Shevat is apple pie. I used to love the compliments I received, especially from my dad. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a special treat.