Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

Sephardic Spice Girls

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While the rest of the world anxiously awaits the end of 2020, the Jewish people are saying goodbye to 5780 and looking forward to a healthy and happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year. Nothing gladdens the heart more than a deliciously sweet treat. We baked these in the hope that they portend a year of good fortune. 

Our desserts for this Rosh Hashanah are an ode to the bakers who paved the way. Sharon’s Aunt Rebecca is famous for her pavlovas, with their perfectly crispy shell and marshmallow-y, chewy center. We made these ones small but wildly decadent with toppings of halva, silan and pomegranate seeds, mango and passionfruit. 

The delightful apple cake recipe comes from Abe Abraham, who was born in Shanghai. His Iraqi parents were from Azair (he was a cousin of Sharon’s Nana Aziza). He was the longtime chairman of the Religious Committee of Kahal Joseph congregation and the ba’al tekiah blower of the shofar on the High Holy Days. Steeped in knowledge of the ancient Iraqi traditions, he was modern and open in his religious thinking. He was a renaissance man, a businessman, a sharp dresser, an amazing cook and and a gracious host who staunchly supported the work of the Sephardic Educational Center. Abraham was an amazing cook and a gracious host. He died four years ago on Yom Kippur but he will always have a place in our hearts. 

We hope these luscious desserts make it onto your table.


8 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For fillings:

1 8-ounce container pareve Rich Whip, whipped
2 tablespoons of silan in a squeeze bottle
1/2 cup of vanilla halva
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
1 mango, cubed
2 passionfruit, seeded and sliced
2 strawberries, cut into slivers

For shells:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. In stand mixer, use whisk attachment to beat egg whites. 

  4. Gradually increase speed to high. When egg whites form stiff peaks, slowly add sugar. 

  5. After mixture is a glossy white, add vinegar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. 

  6. Beat additional 1 minute. 

  7. Place meringue mixture into piping bag (or Ziplock) and pipe into rings on baking sheets.

  8. Lower oven temperature to 200.

  9. Bake 2 hours, then turn off oven and leave meringues to dry out overnight.

Makes 12 mini meringue shells.

For filling:

  1. Spoon cream onto meringues. 

  2. On six meringues, drizzle silan, add halvah and pomegranate seeds. 

  3. On the other six meringues, spoon on mango, passionfruit and strawberries.

  4. Makes 1 dozen.


4 large or 6 small Golden Delicious apples
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

  1. Peel and slice apples into half-moons, combine in bowl with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven 350 F.

  3. Combine wet ingredients in bowl using mixer until well blended.

  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. 

  5. Batter will be very thick. Grease a tube or Bundt pan and pour half the batter into pan. Arrange half the apples without liquid, over the batter, then add rest of the batter and arrange remaining  apples on top.

  6. Bake 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown.

  7. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

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