There has been a lot of talk about charoset on The Jew & The Carrot lately. Reader Maddie commented: “I’ve always anticipated the crunch of the matzah mixed with the tangy zip of the apples, cinnamon, and raisins….mmm, can’t wait!” Contributor Alix Wall’s family sculpts their charoset into a pyramid shape, reminiscent of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. What the blog has lacked however, is a good solid recipe for the stuff. I’m here to change all that.
In my kitchen, I’ve moved beyond the traditional Ashkenazi-style charoset many Jews grew up eating. Although the traditional recipe is quite good, there are too many opportunities to mix things up – Sephardic recipes that replace raisins with sticky dates and figs, or even unexpected variations and flavors. But really, why choose? I like to make several different types of charoset and do a charoset tasting with my guests. After all, the seder is supposed to be fun!
Try these three charoset recipes at your seder – you might just start a new tradition!
Apple, Honey and Walnut Charoset
Traditional Ashkenazi style
½ cup of crushed walnuts
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into small dice
2 Gala apples, cored and cut into small dice
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup sweet red wine such as Muscat or grape juice
Place the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven for 5-7 minutes until they are fragrant and have darkened slightly. Let cool.
Stir all the ingredients together and store, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
Fig, Date and Cinnamon Charoset
Traditional Sephardic style
1 cup dried black figs, stems cut off
1 cup dried dates, pitted
1 cup dried apricots
3 cups red wine or apple juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup toasted almonds
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Place the dried fruit in a large bowl. Heat the wine or apple juice to a simmer. Pour over the fruit and let steep for 1 hour.
Squeeze all the liquid out of the fruit. Reserve the liquid. Place the fruit in a food processor and pulse or chop by hand until the mixture is combined and only slightly chunky. You may need to add some of the reserved soaking liquid to help the fruit to stick together.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Roll the charoset into walnut sized balls and roll into ground almonds for additional texture if desired.
2 cups fresh strawberries, cored and cut in half
¼ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
Zest of ½ lemon
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon dried lavender (optional)
½ cup toasted, shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped coarsely
1 cup blood orange sections
Several mint leaves cut into thin strips
Place the strawberries in a medium bowl. Add the blood orange juice and the lemon zest. Allow the mixture to macerate (marinate).
Heat the honey in a small saucepan. Add the lavender and remove from the heat. Cool the honey mixture. Strain out the lavender and discard.
Lightly mash the strawberries with a potato masher. Add the honey and the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
Photo credit: Eat, Drink, Man, Woman