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  • Marty Zimmerman

The Great ZIM Bake Off – Holiday Edition

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Jewish Apple Cake

This holiday season, the ZIM team has compiled a few of our favorite holiday recipes for you to make at home with family and friends. From apple cake and vegan mac and cheese, all the way down to Scandinavian glogg, we hope you enjoy a little sweet, savory, and everything in between.

Recipe 1: Jewish Apple Cake

Teddi Aaron, a ZIM Grant Researcher and Writer, doesn’t mess around when it comes to dessert. Her mom’s *famous* Jewish Apple Cake is a crowd-pleaser year-round, but especially around Chanukkah. As a kid, Teddi was always intrigued by two things when watching her mom make this sweet cake: 1) the bundt pan (how did it come out perfect every single time?!); and 2) the orange juice. After baking a few herself, she now understands that without the OJ, it wouldn’t be the same.

Ingredients for the apple filling:

5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced

5 tbsp. of sugar

2 tsp. of cinnamon

Ingredients for the cake batter:

3 cups of white flour

2 cups of sugar

1 cup of vegetable oil

1/3 cup of orange juice (no pulp)

4 eggs

3 tsp. of baking powder

3 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Grease a Bundt pan with veggie oil on wax paper and flour the pan.

  2. Mix the ingredients for the filling until combined and the ingredients for the batter until smooth.

  3. Coat the bottom of the pan with a layer of batter and then a layer of apple filling.

  4. Alternate batter and filling until you run out. Be sure the final layer in the pan is batter (it does get thin, but it will be okay).

  5. Smack the pan on the counter before putting the cake in the oven.

  6. Bake on the middle rack at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Be sure to check the cake after an hour. If the top is nice and brown and doesn’t jiggle, then it should be ready. If needed, poke a toothpick as close to the center as possible. If it’s clean when you take it out, it is baked.

  7. Let it cool overnight, remove from the pan, and enjoy!

Recipe 2: Pasta, Pasta, Pasta

During this time of year, our Vice President of Client Relations, Rebecca Conway, means business. She is a master of her craft and is excited to share this holiday dinner winner with you!


1 box of pasta (i.e. elbows, shells, cavatappi, etc.)

4-6 tbsp. earth balance butter

3-6 garlic cloves, minced

1 white or yellow onion, minced (optional, but recommended)

1 tbsp. ginger, minced (optional, but recommended)

1 tsp. bullion paste

4-6 tbsp. flour (about the same as the amount of butter)

2 cups Ripple half & half, full-fat coconut milk, unsweetened, unflavored cashew milk, or another plant-based milk (plus more to thin out as needed)

32 oz. of vegan cheese (it’s a lot of cheese, but so worth it):

16 oz of cheddar

8oz of gouda

8 oz of mozzarella, parmesan, or your other favorite melty vegan cheese (favorites are Violife ([so delicious] and Follow Your Heart [but not the cheddar, that one is gross]; Daiya will also suffice, but try to find another option, if possible).

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or to taste)

1/2 tbsp. turmeric, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, and any other of your fav mac and cheese seasonings to taste (be generous!)

Add ins: your favorite roasted or sauteed veggies (e.g. kale, tomato, broccoli, mushrooms), vegan chick’n or bacon, vegan walnut and nooch parm, parsley, shredded vegan cheese (finely shredded Violife parmesan is especially good here).


  1. Boil water, cook pasta according to directions.

  2. While pasta cooks, melt butter on medium heat, add garlic, onion, and ginger and sauté until just starting to brown. Mix in bullion paste.

  3. Add flour, whisk for 2 minutes to cook off flour. Pour half & half or milk in, continue whisking.

  4. When roux starts to simmer, mix in the vegan cheese, reserving a few handfuls if you plan to bake it.

  5. When cheese has melted in the sauce, whisk in seasonings (including nooch) to taste, thin out with milk as needed to create ideal consistency.

  6. Add in cooked pasta, other add-ins, mix everything together.

  7. Serve topped with vegan parmesan and parsley.

If you want to bake it, generously grease a 9x13 pan with earth balance, add your mac, reserve a few good handfuls of your vegan cheese of choice to top it with, top with breadcrumbs, and place generous dollops of Earth Balance across the top. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 400° for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. The tinfoil is crucial for the vegan cheese to melt on top. Broil for the last few minutes to melt the cheese on top and brown the breadcrumbs.

Recipe 3: Sweet Potato Souffle

Our queen of the sweet potato, Grant Writer and Researcher Leah Weinberg, has the perfect souffle for your holiday spread. This recipe is from her great aunt, and it has slowly made its way around her extended family because once you try it, you can’t go back. Some call it a side, others call it a pie, but whatever it is, it’s tasty.

Ingredients for the filling:

3 cups of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter

1 tsp. of grated orange peel

1 tbsp. of orange juice

A pinch of salt

Ingredients for the topping:

1 cup of chopped pecans*

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter

1/3 cup of flour

1/4 tsp. of salt


  1. Bake sweet potatoes (can be done in advance); scrape out the potato flesh and trash or compost the skins.

  2. Combine potato, sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, butter, flour, orange peel, orange juice, and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth.

  3. Spread filling in a 2-qt. souffle or baking dish.

  4. In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Scatter over the souffle filling.

  5. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly.**

* If you prefer not to use nuts, rolled oats make a good substitute.

** Cooking temperature and time are at sea level, so start checking the souffle at 30 minutes to avoid overbaking. The initial souffle puff will fall as it cools, so altitude sinking isn't a problem for this recipe.

Recipe 4: Chocolate Chip Cookies

This bake-off wouldn’t be complete without the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Aaron Charney, a Grant Researcher, and Writer decided to become a cookie connoisseur during the height of the pandemic, taking to the kitchen to perfect this dessert classic. He won’t tell us how many batches it took, but this is the result it yielded:

Mix the wet ingredients:

1 cup of butter (softened naturally)

1 1/4 cups of brown sugar

2 eggs (left out for 2 hours to be room temperature)

1 egg yolk (at room temperature)

2 tsp. of vanilla extract

**Don't mix for more than 3 minutes!

Then add in the dry ingredients:

2 tsp. of salt

1 1/4 tsp. of baking soda

2 and 2/3 cups of flour

Mix it all together until it becomes nice and dough-like!

Then add (to taste):

2/3 cup of tahini (this is the secret ingredient)!!!

1 tbsp. of maple syrup

12-16 oz of chocolate chips, depending on taste (I like to do half dark chocolate and half toffee chocolate)


  1. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula until dispersed evenly.

  2. Be sure to let the dough cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours prior to baking.

  3. Once chilled, make tablespoon-sized balls, and cook at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes (9 if you like them gooey like I do).

  4. Right after taking them out, sprinkle with salt, and let cool on the pan for about 10 minutes, then enjoy!

Tip: This makes a whole lot of cookie dough, so what I like to do is split it up, put half in the fridge, and half in the freezer (they can be made from frozen and that way you can have cookies way beyond the holidays!)

Recipe 5: Swedish Après ski Cocktail

From the great Scandinavian lands hails this beverage that will warm you from the inside out. Courtesy of our Grant Writer Sam Moody is a mulled wine recipe best known as a Swedish après ski cocktail. Whip up a batch and enjoy ‘round a fire with friends this holiday season. Feel free to sub the red wine and liqueur with a non-alcoholic option!


1/2 cup of sugar

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup of raisins

1/4 cup of Slivered Blanched Almonds

1 tbsp. Cardamon Pods (smashed)

A nub of Fresh Ginger (sliced) the size of your thumb

1 Cinnamon Stick (broken)

8-10 Cloves

Red Wine (1 750ml bottle)

Tip: Dark, fruit, and full-bodied red wines like red zinfandel and merlot are great for glogg and mulled wine recipes. A bottle you enjoy in the $10 range is just fine. Avoid using cabernets and pinots as they don’t have enough body to support the added flavors and spices.

Optional Garnishes:

Orange (sliced)

Slivered Blanched Almonds

Cinnamon Sticks


Like sangria, traditional glogg is often served with an optional extra splash of liqueur. Sam’s recommendations include:

Aquavit: In most Scandinavian recipes, aquavit - a regional, neutral-tasting spirit (similar to vodka) infused with caraway, citrus peel, and aromatic spices - is used.






  1. Add sugar, orange zest, raisins, almonds, cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to a medium saucepan, and stir to mix.

  2. Add the entire bottle of wine.

  3. Simmer on medium-low heat until wine reaches 175 degrees, or until the sugar has dissolved completely. Enjoy a heady sniff of the steam rising off the pot, then remove from heat and let stand one hour to soak in the flavors.

  4. Pour glogg through a sieve or cheesecloth to strain the spices, raisins, and nuts, which can be discarded. Reheat until steam rises from the surface and serve immediately, or bottle for storage (good for 2-3 days in a bottle in the refrigerator – beer growlers work well).

To Serve:

Heat glogg in a pot on the stove until steam drifts off the surface and serve warm in mugs or punch cups. Garnish with a few raisins, almonds, orange slices, and a cinnamon stick. Optional for the coldest nights to add a splash of aquavit, amaretto, vodka, brandy, or bourbon, and stir with a cinnamon stick.

Recipe 6: Candied Grapefruit

Making her way down memory lane, Grant Writer Holly Porterfield can smell the sugar and citrus of her mom’s candied grapefruit around Christmas time with this recipe. These sweet slices not only make a tasty snack, but they also make a thoughtful gift for friends and family.


2 large red or pink grapefruits

1 cup of sugar, plus more for tossing


  1. Cut peel from grapefruits into 3/8” strips leaving 1/4” white pith attached. Place in a small saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drain; repeat twice.

  2. Bring peel, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in the same saucepan; reduce heat and simmer until peel is translucent, 15–20 minutes. Drain; transfer peel to a wire rack and let dry for 2 to 4hours. Toss in more sugar.


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