I had meant to have this post finished before the end of Passover, but life intervened.  But here’s hoping that all our Jewish friends and loved ones enjoyed a sweet Passover.   As these special days were approaching, I decided that I would try my hand at a few recipes typically prepared during Passover, and charoset was suggested.  Charoset is a part of the Passover seder plate and symbolizes, in its consistency and color, the mortar used by the Jews to lay bricks during their enslavement in Egypt.   (I know, I know, the version above is not looking particularly mortar-like . . . more on that in a minute.)

I mentioned my upcoming project to a few friends and colleagues.  My colleagues were enthusiastic.  “It’s delicious!” “It tends to be a favorite with the kids!”  But when I shared my plan with Gary, the raisin-hating husband of my best friend, who happens as well to be Jewish, he responded, “Charoset?  Why would you want to make that?”

“It sounds like I might be able to put my own spin on it.  And I’m told it’s delicious!”

“That’s because there’s nothing else to eat at that *&#%$#! meal.”

I shared this response with the charoset suggestor, who responded, “Gary’s been eating at the wrong houses.”

And so, on the first night of Passover, I was in my kitchen chopping and mixing, and eventually serving my daughters a pre-bed snack of charoset on matzo.  And while they were quite complimentary, I was curious as to how my version would fare if tasted by someone who had a seder or two under his belt.  Fortunately, charoset doesn’t really suffer from a couple of days in the fridge, and I was able to save it until my dinner a few nights later with Dr. S.  While sharing that the charosets of his experience were generally more “wet”,  he gave my version a thumbs up. (Yes, I know he’s probably not the most objective taste-tester I could have found, but I do believe he would have told me if I was way off base.)

While researching various recipes, I happened upon the Shiksa in the Kitchen, and learned that the ingredients used in charoset vary in accordance with a family’s tradition.  Ashkenazi Jews tend to use walnuts, apples, and red wine, while pistachios, almonds, and dates are often found in Sephardic versions.  My recipe borrowed a little from both of these traditions.

K’s Charoset

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced

1/3 c. walnuts, finely chopped

1/3 c. almonds, finely chopped

1/3 c. pistachios, finely chopped

1/4 c. golden raisins

4 dried Mission figs, chopped

sprinkling of cinnamon

several grindings of black pepper

crushed seeds from 4 cardamom pods

1/4 c. or so of Kedem (kosher red wine)

lavender honey to taste and bind

Mix all of the above together and serve with matzos.  (Or contribute to next year’s Seder!)