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    May Your New Year be Sweet with Chozen

    For those of you who celebrate it (and those of you who don't), I wish you a wonderful, blessed, and very happy New Year.

    Shanah Tova.

    Love,
    gp

    From Michael Berg:

    "Rosh Hashanah is an important time of the year; there are blessings available to every person during this time. It is the beginning of the lunar calendar year, and is therefore called the “head” (Rosh) or beginning of the Year (Hashanah). The Kabbalists also call this time the seed of the coming year. We know that the seed of a tree, even before it is planted, holds within it all the potential that the tree will become. It will take time even after the seed is planted for the tree to manifest its complete growth and potential. Nevertheless, the seed that was planted already determines much of what will grow and happen next. If you plant an apple seed, no matter what you do afterwards, you will not be able to grow an orange tree. This is what occurs on Rosh Hashanah; we are creating and planting the seeds for the coming year. We want to have a year filled with great blessings and happiness so we take the opportunity through our thoughts and actions now to draw all of the energy that we will manifest later. Everything that we do on the days of Rosh Hashanah (this Thursday and Friday) is meant to assist us in planting the right and best seeds for the blessings that we want and will need in the coming year.

    Another beautiful teaching is that on this day everything is renewed. One of the greatest sources of unhappiness is that everything ages and becomes old. Usually we are more excited and in love in the beginning of a relationship than 10 years into the marriage. Many of the gifts that come into our lives are exciting and fulfilling in the beginning, but then they become old. Even if we still appreciate them, it is not usually with the same joy and vigor as in the beginning. But it does not have to be so. We can and are meant to renew ourselves, our relationships, our lives, and our blessings at least once a year. One of the gifts available to us on Rosh Hashanah is the ability to draw the energy of renewal to the important areas of our life. Think about the areas of your life that have become old, and blessings that you want to fulfill with the energy of renewal. Through this consciousness you draw the energy of newness into every area of your life.

    There are many tools that we can use during the two days of Rosh Hashanah but there are two important connections that we can all make. The first is to take time during these two days and think about our past year, the good, the better, and the not so good. Then ask yourself, “What do I want to change from last year?”, “what do I want to make better?” Also, “what blessings do we want to draw for ourselves and our family in the next year?” The supernal gates open up during these two days and by opening ourselves up to the flow of light and energy from above we can receive endless blessings.

    The second important connection is how we think and behave during Rosh Hashanah. If we desire to connect to the supernal energy that is revealed we should behave like the supernal light. We should act in only ways of sharing, forgiveness and care. No anger, no doubt, no jealousy, no sadness, at least for these two days. How we are during these two days will influence the next 363.

    May we all be blessed with a wonderful new year and endless blessings for ourselves our families and the world. Shanah Tova."

    Michael Berg is a Kabbalah scholar and author. He is the co-Director of The Kabbalah Centre. You can follow Michael on twitter, twitter.com/michael_berg_.

    Recipes from Chozen

    Meredith and Ronne in their kitchen.

    Ronne and Meredith, the mother and daughter team behind Chozen, have provided some of their best sweet Rosh Hashanah recipes for this year with 3 Chozen-inspired desserts:

    Chozen's current flavors:

    Apple and Honey Cake

    “While researching different types of honey and their genesis, I came across A Taste of a Honey, Recipes and Traditions. Needless to say, the story of honey is an interesting one, but the recipes, upon first reading, seemed to be mouth watering. This apple and honey cake is about to become a tradition at our Rosh Hashanah table, served with Apples and Honey ice cream, of course.”

    Makes one 8" cake

    • Melted butter for greasing the pan
    • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    • 2 apples (I used tart Granny Smiths, but any firm crunchy apple will do), peeled, cored, sliced thin
    • 2 cups self-rising flour (For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.)
    • 1 ½ sticks sweet butter
    • 3 ounces honey (Use a full flavored honey packed in a jar with honeycomb for more intense honey flavor.)
    • 3 eggs beaten at room temperature
    • ½ cup milk
    • ½ cup sugar

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Grease a deep 8” diameter cake pan with the melted butter.

    3.Combine ½ teaspoon cinnamon with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and sprinkle over the bottom and sides of the pan.

    4.Line the base of the pan with the apple slices, overlapping them so there are no gaps for the cake mixture to seep through.

    5. Sift the flour with the remaining cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

    6.Cream the butter with the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Gradually pour in the honey in a stream, beating continuously.

    7. Add the eggs, one at a time, to prevent curdling.

    8.On low speed or by hand, add 1/3 of the flour, ½ the milk , another 1/3 of flour, the rest of the milk, finish with the flour.

    9.Pour the mixture into the greased and sugared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven, until a cake tester comes out clean and dry. (Bake at least 40 minutes to caramelize the apples)

    10.Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then turn cake out onto a cooling rack. The apples should be caramelized and the cake a rich golden brown.

    Rugelach

    "These little pastry crescents are always available at our house, either fresh from the oven or out of the freezer. Because the pastry is rich in butter and cream cheese, it never dries out and is always flaky and delicious. The raisin, nut, apricot trio that fills the pastry is luscious. Rugelach have been made by our family since I was a little girl. One of our neighbors, transported from Eastern Europe, was a magical baker. I spent many afternoons watching her mix and roll and fold and sometimes she even let me lick the bowls! Our rugelach is a derivation of Mrs. Gaden's."

    This recipe makes at least 48 cookie-sized pastries

    • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 cup raisins
    • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
    • 1/2 cup apricot preserves, heated in microwave for a few seconds to make it spreadable
    • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

    1.Cream the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. The fluffier the lighter and flakier the final pastry will be.

    2.Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla.

    3.On low speed, add the flour and mix just until ingredients come together into a dough.

    4.Put the dough on a floured board (or your counter) and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, flatten slightly, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. I can never wait 60 minutes so I give you the option!

    5.Combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.

    6.Again, on a board or your counter, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. This is not an exact shape or measurement.

    7.With a pastry brush, brush the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves almost to the edges, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. With a rolling pin, press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges. I must admit, if I want smaller pastries, I will cut he circle into smaller wedges, maintaining a triangular shape.

    8.Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge, place the cookies, point side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes. This time I do wait the 30 minutes because they will not hold their shape if they are at room temperature. (The rugelach can also be frozen at this point for up to 2 months and left in refrigerator to defrost before baking.)

    9.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    10.Brush each cookie with egg wash. Mix 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

    Chocolate Babka

    "In my opinion, Green’s Babka, made in their Brooklyn factory, is one of the best babkas around. However, if I have many hours to spare, making my own chocolate babka is a little like entering chocolate heaven … the textures of the chocolate and the dough beneath your fingers is, well, sensual, the smell of the baking yeast bread and chocolate is divine, and the satisfaction of having baked with yeast always makes me feel fulfilled. You can understand why Jerry and Elaine were distraught when that last chocolate babka left the bakery without them. (Our hats are off to Martha Stewart for creating this recipe, which is better than any anywhere.) Incidentally, Chozen will be launching a delectable chocolate babka ice cream in the very near future."

    Makes 3 loaves (but I made two full-sized and three miniature ones)

    • 1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
    • 2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
    • 1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
    • 3 whole large eggs, room temperature
    • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
    • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature plus more for bowl and loaf pans
    • 2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
    • Streusel topping (below)

    1.Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

    2.In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

    3.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

    4.Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

    5.Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined, set filling aside.

    6.Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

    7.Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling. (When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full 5 to 6 turns.)

    8.Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes. (The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.)

    9.Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

    * After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!

    Streusel Topping

    Makes 3 3/4 cups

    • 1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

    In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

    The goop collection

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