Monday, April 18, 2011

Passover Charoset

Charoset (pronounced ha-ROW-set) is arguably one of the easiest Passover dishes to prepare, and one of the best foods of this holiday, in my opinion.  It is also one of the most varied, with recipes and ingredients ranging widely depending on the Jewish tradition, as well as the particular Jewish family.  Some use apples and dates, while others use figs and almonds.  Some people use cinnamon alone, while others use a wider variety of spices.  Check out the Jewess with Attitude's blog post, Charoset Medley, to find out more about the endless possibilities of this dish.  And the best part is that charoset is naturally gluten-free.  No modifications necessary!  Suffice to say, I have yet to find a charoset that I do NOT like.

Charoset is eaten as part of a traditional seder dinner and is a sweet paste made of fruits, nuts, red wine, and sugar, usually eaten as a topping for matzoh crackers. (And by the way, do you all know about Yehuda Gluten-free Matzoh crackers??  They are pictured in this post.)  The paste-like consistency symbolizes the mortar that Israelite slaves used to bind bricks together when they were building cities in Ancient Egypt.  I've seen it as a very chunky paste before (almost like a sweet, wine-infused salad), but also sometimes as a very thick, smooth paste, in which all ingredients have been very well-blended.  My own family's recipe is of the chunky variety, but you could easily puree this to make it more mortar-like if you want to increase the symbolic power of this delicious Passover treat.  What follows is the delicious recipe that I enjoy every year on Passover, but I encourage you to experiment with this and other charoset recipes to find one you love!

Makes enough for 3-4 moderately hungry seder guests

1 whole apple, peeled, cored, and very finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or almonds (or as much as you like!)
4 dates, chopped into small pieces
Handful of raisins
Red wine to coat
Cinnamon (to taste)
White and brown sugar (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Adjust sugar and wine to taste.  Chill until ready to serve.  Eat as a topping for gluten-free matzoh.


Molly said...

My sister is allergic to walnuts and my niece is allergic to pistachios and cashews, so we've had to do a bit of experimenting this year. My mom was pushing for bananas as a binder, but tonight we went with a fig and date mixture to bind the apples and wine. Passover is always an adventure. Happy holidays!

Claire Berman said...

Hi Molly,

Oh my, that sound like quite a challenge, but I think a fig and date mixture sounds wonderful! I'll have to try that myself sometime. How did it turn out? You're right that it's always an adventure, but hopefully it still leads us to delicious things :)

Happy Passover!