Susan Juster Viner 

Jewish holidays were celebrated at the home of my Bubby and Zede, who, like my parents and me, lived in the North End of Hartford. They had both emigrated from Romania via Palestine as a young married couple around 1900, and the Eastern European trait of the woman being a homemaker was how my Bubby lived her life. I gave my Bubby credit for a lot — how she welcomed me with an embrace and a piece of candy each time I walked into the house and how she took pride in cooking for Jewish holidays. She died while I was in college, before I was married, thus before I began cooking many Jewish traditional dishes. Two favorite foods of mine that Bubby cooked were stuffed helzel and taiglach. I researched recipes for the former, but none matched hers, and as for the latter, I was hard-pressed to find anyone who made them. They are best described as a knotted dough cookie boiled in a mixture of honey, nuts and raisins, and they were a traditional sweet at Rosh Hashanah. As a child I used to ask her to make taiglach at other times of the year, but she answered by saying “it ruins a pot”. I didn’t quite understand. Back in the 1970’s I called my mother to ask who else in her or my father’s family might know how to make taiglach, and she quickly sent me to “Big Jennie”, a cousin in Springfield, MA. We had three Jennies in the family, Big, Little and Jay. I called Jennie, and she was very willing to share her recipe, but it was, as I expected, ”shiterein” – not measured. She promised to measure it next time she made it, and she did. And I began to make taiglach every year for Rosh Hashanah, following her recipe, and changing it very little all through many years. It was easy to find out why my Bubby said that making them would ruin a pot. She had aluminum pots and used too high a heat. I have yet to burn a pot making them. When my children and grandchildren were little, they would watch me roll the cookie dough between my hands into a cigarette shape and then tie each one in a knot. Even though they all didn’t eat them, they always wanted to be a part of the process. Thanks to Big Jennie, I can share with people the recipe for taiglach, a photo of the process and one of the finished product.

Granddaughter’s Poem
Written many years ago

Rosh Hashanah Taiglach

Once a year three generations gather together
To spend hours in the kitchen preparing taiglach
We roll and tie
Form the dough into knots
Cook them in the honey that boils
And fills the house with its fragrance
Every year we get together
And produce more and more taiglach
For “A Sweet New Year”


Recipe for Rosh Hashanah Taiglach

By Susan Juster Viner and Big Jennie

3 extra large eggs
1  1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2  1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups dark honey (1 lb. honey equals 1/14 cups)
1 cup sugar
Powdered ginger to taste
1/2 cup water
1 cup walnut and hazelnut large pieces or whole
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 small jar (6 — 10 oz.) maraschino cherries, drained well
1/2 cup boiling coffee

To make dough: Use dough hook on standing mixer or do by hand

Beat eggs and oil
Add 2  1/2 Tbsp. sugar

In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder and slowly add to oil mixture to form dough. Roll quarter-size round piece of dough between hands to form about 3″ tube. On a floured board, tie each tube of dough into a single knot and repeat until all dough is used. In heavy deep pot, bring honey to slow boil. Add 1 cup sugar, ginger, 1/2 cup water and stir to dissolve sugar into gently boiling honey mixture, slowly drop dough knots, cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove cover and add nuts, raisins and cherries and stir. Return cover and cook 20 – 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, or until knots are golden brown. When done, pour boiling coffee into honey pot and stir. Remove taiglach, nuts, raisins and cherries with slotted spoon into decorative bowl (heat resistant). Pour some honey over taiglach and reserve the rest for making tzimmes, or over ice cream or in tea. Serve with small spoon but eat with hands.

Yield — about 60.