Charoset – the dish on our seder plate that reminds us that the Israelites were forced to add insult to injury by having to mix the mortar to form the bricks that made their slave-labor truly back-breaking. Every Jewish culture has its own variant of charoset. Whether you use apples, bananas, or dried fruit as the base, one thing all of these concoctions have in common is their sweet taste and pasty texture.
Traditional charoset. Chop 8 apples and 1 cup pecans or walnuts. (You can use a food processor.) Add 1 tsp of cinnamon and 6 tablespoons each of sugar and sweet wine (or grape juice).
Nut-free charoset. Nut allergies are on the rise. Consider substituting extra chunks of granny smith apples to provide the crunch other charoset mixtures get from nuts. Combine with raisins, chopped dates a dash of cinnamon and a splash of grape juice or sweet wine.
Israeli Dried fruit charoset. Use 4-5 fresh apples peeled and cut up into chunks as the base. Add a half cup of each: raisins, dried apricots, prunes and walnuts. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, a splash of sweet red wine (or grape juice) and a pinch of cinnamon. Puree in a food processor to desired consistency. You will end up with a lumpy spread.
Israeli nutty charoset. Peel and chop 4-5 apples. Put it into food processor with 2 bananas, ½ cup of raisins, ¼ cup of each of almonds, pistachios and pecans. Add a splash of wine (or grape juice), orange juice, and a pinch of cinnamon and sugar. Puree to desired consistency.
Syrian Charoset. In a large saucepan, combine a dozen of each coarsely chopped dried apricots, prunes and figs (stems discarded) with a cup of water. Bring to boil and then cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add some wine, cinnamon and ½ cup of crushed walnuts. Let cool and serve at room temperature.
Yemenite Charoset. Combine 1 cup dates, ½ C raisins and a handful of figs in a food processor. Add ½ cup of sweet wine. Add ½ cup of walnuts and almonds, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and a ½ tsp each of cumin, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. Puree until nearly smooth. (Add more wine if you need to.) Refrigerate and serve.
Create your own tradition. Substitute pears for apples, dried cherries or cranberries for the raisins, avocados for bananas. Pick your favorite nut for added texture. Skip the wine and use cherry jam diluted with grape juice for added moisture.Click to download