Apples and honey around the High Holidays are certainly not the only ways to ensure a sweet new year. Cuban families, like mine, have long practiced the tradition of eating grapes for good luck. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, we enjoy 12 grapes — one for each month.
According to folklore, this practice stems from Cuba’s Spanish roots. Spanish grape growers may have instituted this tradition when they were faced with an overabundance of harvest, and needed to offload some grapes. With everyone in the community enjoying grapes, the grape farmers were certainly enjoying a sweet start to the new year.
While most Cubans eat their 12 grapes as they are, I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of incorporating the grapes into a Rosh Hashanah dish. My mini almond and grape crostatas are the perfect solution to this puzzle, as these single-serving pastries feature 12 whole grapes.
Gluten-free, and completely pareve, they are the perfect addition to any Rosh Hashanah table.
7 oz almond paste
1 egg, beaten
48 seedless grapes (any color)
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp corn starch
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp sliced almonds, divided
1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar
1 Tbs powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Divide almond paste into 4 equal parts, and between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out into ¼ inch thick round discs. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, and brush with beaten egg.
In a bowl, toss together the grapes, lemon juice, corn starch, and cinnamon until the grapes are coated. Place 12 grapes on each disc, leaving a 1-inch rim and fold the rim over the grapes, pinching to crimp along the edges.
Brush the top of the almond paste with beaten egg, and add 1 tsp of sliced almonds to the top of each pastry.
Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and sliced almonds have started to brown. Remove from oven, and let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Carefully transfer to a cooling rack or serving platter, and allow to cool completely.
Pronounced: roshe hah-SHAH-nah, also roshe ha-shah-NAH, Origin: Hebrew, the Jewish new year.