June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Parshat Vayeitzei and Vayishlach: Jacob’s Cranberry-Apple Ladder and ‘Divinity’

Parshat Vayetze inspiration: “And he (Yaakov) dreamed: He saw a ladder set upon the ground, whose top reached the heavens. On it, angels of God went up and down.”


Jacob’s Cranberry-Apple Ladder

This recipe is just perfect for fall, with aromatic cranberries, apple and cinnamon. And the ladder uses a classic puff pastry technique, so once you master it, you can replace the cranberry sauce filling with other fruit or chocolate fillings.

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar (white and/or brown)
  • 12 oz. whole cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar for garnish

1. Make the cranberry apple sauce by boiling water, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved, add the cranberries, chopped apple and cinnamon. Return to a boil and simmer for at least 20 minutes, until most of the cranberries have burst and the kitchen smells amazing. Set aside to cool. If you have time, refrigerate it. This recipe makes just over 2 cups of sauce, more than needed for one puff pastry sheet, so you can make both sheets or use the remainder as a side dish (if you can manage to prevent family members from just eating it straight out of the bowl).

2. Defrost one sheet of puff pastry for 35-40 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Unfold the puff pastry on a surface lightly sprinkled with flour. Roll it just 2-3 times in each direction with a rolling pin, then cut it in half lengthwise to form 2 rectangles. Gently fold one rectangle in half lengthwise, and make evenly spaced horizontal slits, leaving 1inch of the edge intact.

4. Wait for the oven to be at temperature before filling the pastry. Place the uncut pastry rectangle on the baking sheet. Spread 1 cup of the cooled cranberry sauce on the pastry, leaving ~1 inch clear on every side. Carefully layer the still-folded slit pastry on top of the fill, lining it up from one long edge. Unfold it and press the edges together to seal. You can use a little water on your fingertips if you want to make sure the layers don’t come apart when baking.

5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Right before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

Parshat Vayishlach inspiration: “Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. … No longer will your name be Yaakov, but Yisrael,” said the man, “for you struggled with God and with man and have prevailed.”


‘Divinity’ With Pecans and Dried Fruit

This was a divine struggle if there ever was one. So I made Divinity! An old-fashioned candy that I hadn’t ever tasted before my Edible Parsha challenge, it is naturally pareve and versatile, and somewhere between nougat and a meringue. It is pretty easy if you have an electric mixer and a candy thermometer. I made it three ways—plain, with dried chopped dried cherries, and with pecans. Try it!

This makes about 18, 2-tablespoon-size candies.

  • 2⅔ cups sugar
  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Optional add-ins: chopped dried fruit, maraschino cherries, chopped nuts (traditionally walnuts or pecans).

1. Cook sugar, corn syrup and water in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, to 260 F on a candy thermometer or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a hard ball that holds its shape but is pliable.

2. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue beating while pouring hot syrup in a thin stream into egg whites, beating constantly on medium speed. (For best results, use an electric stand mixer, not a portable handheld mixer, since beating time is about 10 minutes and mixture is thick.) Add vanilla. Beat until mixture holds its shape and becomes slightly dull. Gently stir in add-ins, if desired.

3. Drop 2 Tbsp spoonfuls of mixture onto waxed paper. (If the mixture sticks to your spoon, spray the spoon with neutral cooking spray. You can also roll the pieces in your clean hands to shape them.) Let stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours, turning candies over once, until candies feel firm.

Victoria Lupia lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two children. She is an art conservator with a specialty in preservation of Jewish and Native American objects. Her sister, Jewish Link Editor Elizabeth Kratz, is trying to convince her to turn her year of edible parshiot into a book project.

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