Our family has served two kinds of charoset for the past decade — while nothing can take the place of my aunt’s Eastern European charoset, with apples and walnuts cut in the same wooden bowl with a mezzeluna and put in the same green-tinted glass jar with cinnamon and Manischewitz to marinade overnight — the Sefardi/Mizrahi charoset has made a place for itself.
Charoset, regardless of ethnicity, is made of layers of flavor and constant taste-testing. Not such a bad plan during your potentially hectic holiday prep.
1 cup dried figs
1 cup raisins
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 cup almonds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon allspice
2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate juice
Put the figs, raisins, dates and almonds into a food processor. Let it pulse until you have a thick and sticky paste.
Using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the food process and transfer contents to a large bowl.
In a small bowl mix the pomegranate juice and spices together and pour over fruit-nut mixture. Begin mixing everything together with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, add more pomegranate juice.
Pinch of a piece of the mixture and roll into a ball, the size of 1-1.5 bites. Keep a bowl of tepid water on hand, as your hands will get covered.
There are many different varieties of Charoset – from Bubbe’s traditional apple and Manishewitz to various Sephardi styles with dates and other dried fruit. I know each family has their own recipe, but I think its nice to change things up every now and then during the holidays.
The first time I made Seder for my family, I tried this recipe and adapted it over time to the recipe below. If you don’t want to make your own candied walnuts, go ahead and buy them! Fairway, Trader Joes and other major supermarkets will carry candied walnuts or pecans which you can certainly substitute.
4 gala apples, peeled and diced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup Manischewitz
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest (optional)
1 cup walnut halves
4 cups vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl.
In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil to 350°F. Fry walnuts until golden brown, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn. Using a slotted spoon, transfer walnuts from skillet to bowl containing sugar mixture. Toss walnuts in sugar, then spread on baking sheet. Cool 15 minutes, then chop roughly.
Combine nuts, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, apples, pomegranate seeds, zest, wine and pomegranate juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.