Giving Thanks, Hanukkah-style: Sweet Potato Latkes with Autumn Spice Applesauce

Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Applesauce

It is fitting that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving intersect this year, because as the year comes to an end, it seems that I have a lot to be thankful for. Like many other congregants, my husband and I joined Temple Emanuel, because we were looking for community. Almost immediately after walking through the doors, first for a lively Shabbat B’Yachad, and then for a series of thought-provoking high holiday services, we knew this was the right place for us. We quickly made friends in our newlywed chavurah, and I even played a bit part in the annual Intergenerational play. While my husband joined the temple softball team, I found my niche planning events for the temple’s 20s &30s group, and teaching the Jewish Holiday Cooking series. Before we knew it, we had become a part of that community we were searching for.

As I regularly explain to my cooking students, every family has their own culinary traditions, especially when it comes to holidays. Whether it’s through blood, sweat and tears, or from a box found in the frozen food aisle at your local grocer, we all have our own favorite way to make potato latkes for Hanukkah.  And while I commonly teach my family’s approach, this year, my students and I are doing something a little bit different to commemorate the once-in-a-lifetime event that many are calling, “Thanksgivukkah.”

Just as no Hanukkah party is complete without crisp, golden-brown potato latkes fried in piping hot oil, I would be remiss if my Thanksgiving feast lacked the characteristically orange tinge of a sweet potato side dish. That’s why instead of traditional latkes, in this year’s Hanukkah cooking class, we’ll be taking our favorite elements of both holidays, and combining them into one dish: Sweet Potato Latkes with Autumn Spiced Applesauce. The combination of spices that permeate the applesauce work to enhance the distinct flavor of the sweet potato, and bring to it a certain warmth reminiscent of my favorite Thanksgiving casserole. And the shredded strands of sweet potato bound together with flour and egg remind me of the type of sweet potato fries we all love: crunchy on the outside yet soft on the inside.

No matter if it comes early or late, a common truth is that Hanukkah always seems to creep up on us. Some say that this convergence of holidays won’t happen again for nearly 80,000 years, and in my book, that rare occurrence is worth a little attention. This year, let’s take the opportunity during the festival of lights, and share our thanks for the community that has welcomed us all!

As featured on the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills blog.

Sweet Potato Latkes with Autumn Spiced Applesauce
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Something a little bit different to commemorate the once-in-a-lifetime event that many are calling, “Thanksgivukkah.
For the applesauce
  • 8 various types of apples (I like gala, fuji, honeycrisp, and pink ladies)
  • 1 Tbs of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs honey
  • pinch of kosher salt
For the latkes
  • 2 Garnet sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3-5 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying
For the applesauce:
  1. Peel, core, and chop the apples, and place them in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the following ingredients, and toss to coat.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and pierce a few holes using a fork.
  3. Microwave on high for 7 minutes, or until apples are soft.
  4. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, and uncover. Using a potato masher, mash the apples to desired applesauce consistency. Serve warm or chilled.
For the latkes:
  1. Grate the potatoes. Place the grated potatoes in a cheesecloth or thin kitchen towel, and squeeze out the starchy liquid.
  2. Place the onion and garlic in the food processor, and chop until very small. Mix the onion mixture and the potatoes.
  3. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Add the flour until it creates a slightly thick batter around the shredded potatoes.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add a spoonful of the batter at a time, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 2-3 minutes. Flip the latkes, so they brown on the other side, and fry for another 2 minutes or until browned. Try one at first to see if the seasoning is right. If it is well-seasoned, continue frying the rest of the latkes.
This recipe is very easily halved or doubled depending on the number of guests you anticipate.


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Tostones for Hanukkah!


The day I moved into my very first apartment was an important day for me. I was starting my senior year in college, and for what seemed like the first time, I was taking a leap towards independence. Sure, I moved halfway across the country to go to school where I knew only a couple people, but living on campus, there’s a certain safety net in place to catch (and comfort) the students if they fall.

pressing tostones
Smashing my plantains in the tostonera.

I remember taking great care to choose an apartment within my budget, and carefully selecting my roommates. We plotted and planned how we’d decorate, and made memories building our ready-to-assemble furniture from our favorite Swedish retailer. Not surprising, the part of apartment living I was most excited about was that I would finally have a kitchen of my own. While my roommates concentrated on finding art to decorate our walls and the perfect rug to tie the room together, I focused on stocking our kitchen with our favorite foods and the tools with which to cook them. I found mismatched sets of pots and pans at my local discount store, and piece by piece, built our little kitchen into a functional one our friends begged to come and borrow. It was nothing fancy, but it worked for us. Granted, we could never invite more than four people for dinner, because that was how many plates we had, but we made it work.

more tostones
Golden fried tostones remind me of Hannukah gelt, the traditional gold coins used to play dreidel.

My mom noticed my efforts, and took it upon herself to stock our little kitchen with its crowning jewel: a tostonera. A tostonera is a device specifically designed to smash chunks of fried green plantains into crisp, golden coins, called tostones. And the fact that my mom was gifting me a tostonera was a really big deal, because this served as an informal invitation to join the culinary ranks of the matriarchs in the family. Just about every Cuban person who cooks has a tostonera, and now, I did too. I was so excited to put my tostonera to use, and at the first Hanukkah party of the season, I surprised my friends with a new treat. I figured that in many ways, Cubans use plantain bananas the way Americans use potatoes, so swapping traditional potato latkes with savory tostones seemed like a natural choice. As my friends oohed and aahed while they crunched their way through the small plate of tostones, I smiled with delight, because I knew I was on my way to earning my culinary stripes.

This Hanukkah, if you’re looking for something outside the traditional latke box, take a cue from the Cuban cookbook, and serve tostones alongside your festive meal. And if your mother hasn’t gifted you with a tostonera, fear not. You can achieve similar results with the bottom of a frying pan.

As featured on

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Mix up your traditional Hanukkah fare with these golden fried plantains.
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 green (under ripe) plantain bananas
  • Kosher salt to taste
  1. In a large frying pan, pour in enough vegetable oil to fill the pan about halfway, and place over medium to high heat.
  2. Remove the peel from the plantains, and discard. Chop the pulp into rounds of about 1-1½ inch thickness.
  3. To test the oil temperature, carefully place a small piece of plantain into the oil. If the oil bubbles around the plantain, it is ready. If it doesn’t, continue heating the oil, until it does.
  4. Once the oil is ready, carefully drop the plantain rounds into the oil, and fry for two minutes before flipping and frying for two minutes on the other side.
  5. Remove the plantains from the oil, and using either a tostonera or a frying pan and a flat surface, smash the rounds until they flatten.
  6. Return the now-flattened plantain rounds to the oil, and fry until golden and crisp, about two more minutes.
  7. Remove the plantains from the oil, and immediately place on a platter lined with paper towel to catch any unnecessary oil.
  8. Sprinkle with kosher salt while the plantains are still hot, and serve.


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