Charoset for Passover
I’m writing a short-ish post this week, since that’s all I have time for—too much going on with my dissertation right now!
(And, as I mentioned last week, I guess I’m still not willing to sacrifice time spent on cooking, so something else had to give…)
Simply put, charoset is the main reason I love the Passover holiday: chopped apples, walnuts, dates, and wine, with a little cinnamon sprinkled in. It’s quite sweet, but still somehow manages to be addictive and refreshing.
Charoset recipes often call for the super-sweet Manischewitz wine. (I’m pretty sure my parents have a bottle of this wine, which I believe is used once a year. For charoset.)
I prefer to just use whatever red wine we probably already have open, along with extra dates for sweetness, or better yet, a little pomegranate molasses.
I love the tangy sweetness of pomegranate molasses, and a little here goes a long way.
You can also adjust the amounts of dates and walnuts for a slightly different balance of flavors. Or use other kinds of nuts (like almonds), or dried fruit (like raisins or figs).
I prefer charoset made with dates, as long as they’re diced or pureed very finely, since I tend to find whole Medjool dates too sweet on their own.
Charoset is an essential part of any Seder (Passover dinner), and it’s usually eaten smeared over matzah. Since it represents the mortar the Jews used to bind bricks in Ancient Egypt, it’s actually supposed to look like mortar, too, i.e., pureed to a smooth paste.
The smooth paste version of charoset is, not surprisingly, the easiest kind to make, but it’s also, not surprisingly, not that photogenic… So I’ve made a chunkier version here, which takes a little more effort but is nicer to look at, and still tastes almost as good.
(After having made a batch of each in the past two weeks, I’ve been reminded that I actually like the taste of the completely pureed version better!)
So if I’m just planning to snack on it throughout the week (dissertation fuel!), then I’ll blend it into a paste in the food processor. But if I’m making it to serve dinner guests (or for my blog readers!), then I’ll consider dicing about half of the apples by hand for the chunkier consistency that looks a little nicer on camera.
(Keep in mind that dicing some of the apples will lead to a larger volume of charoset, which might also benefit from a little extra wine, dates, and pomegranate molasses. The volume will really decrease if you blend it all into a paste—down to only about 2 cups. In that case, you won’t want to add as much wine since you’ll have released so much liquid from the apples, and you might want to start with less pomegranate molasses and fewer dates, since all of that sweet apple flavor will already be so concentrated.)
I almost feel like I’m cheating this week, posting yet another dish that I consider to be just a non-recipe/elaborate snack, but this is a childhood favorite of mine, so maybe it’s about time that I shared it with you!
Print this recipe. (PDF)
(Makes 2-5 cups, depending on whether you process or dice the apples)
Active and Total time: 10 minutes for smooth charoset, 25 minutes if dicing some of the apples by hand.
~ 4-5 medium apples (3-4 sweet like Fuji, 1-2 firmer & tart like Pink Lady)
~ 5-10 Medjool dates, pitted (depending on how sweet you want it to be)
~ 1/4 cup walnuts (about 10 shelled whole walnuts), or more to taste
~ 3-4 Tbsp. red wine
~ 1-2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
~ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Special equipment needed:
~ food processor
How to make charoset as a smooth paste:
1. Peel the apples, roughly chop them, then add all ingredients to the food processor (start by adding only 2 Tbsp. wine and 1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses, then add more later if it needs more moisture or sweetness). You might need to wait and add the apples in stages to fit them all in. Pulse everything until you have a smooth, spreadable paste. Refrigerate for up to a week (it tastes even better on the second day) and enjoy with matzah. (This will make about 2 cups.)
How to make chunkier charoset:
1. Peel the apples. Roughly dice 2 of the apples and add them to the food processor along with the dates, walnuts, 2 Tbsp. of the wine, 1 Tbsp. of the pomegranate molasses, and the cinnamon. Pulse until everything has been very finely diced (and it becomes paste-like), adding more wine if necessary.
2. Using a knife, finely dice the remaining 2-3 apples by hand, tossing them into a large bowl. As you dice the apples, also add some of the paste from the food processor into the bowl of diced apples and mix together.
3. Taste and add more pomegranate molasses if it needs more sweetness, or more wine if it seems dry. If it’s too chunky and not easily spreadable, return about a cup of the charoset to the food processor and pulse until smooth, then stir that back into the big bowl. Refrigerate for up to a week (it tastes even better on the second day) and enjoy with matzah. (This will make 4-5 cups.)
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
|Asparagus Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing and Passover Potatoes||Skillet Cranberry Apple Crisp (Gluten-Free)||Almond Cinnamon Baklava||Muhammara and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus|