Dish of the Week: Charoset

Photo by Rebecca Siegel
Photo by Rebecca Siegel
Charoset (bottom right) is part of the symbolic Passover Seder Plate.

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

In honor of Passover, this week's featured dish is charoset.

One of the symbolic foods of the Passover Seder Plate, charoset (or haroset) is a sweet mixture of chopped fruits, nuts, wine, and spices. From the Hebrew word cheres (or clay), its dark color and paste-like texture are meant to signify the mortar used by Hebrews when building the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. The mixture is eaten with unleavened bread (matzoh) and maror (bitter herbs) after reciting a blessing. Ultimately, it is meant to represent hope.

Countless variations on the dish exist. Traditionally, Ashkenazi (Eastern European) charoset is made with grated apples, cinnamon, sweet red wine, and chopped walnuts. Sephardi charoset can be made with raisins, figs, and dates. The Jewish people of Greece and Turkey often mix in apples, dates, chopped almonds, and wine; while Italian Jews often incorporate chestnuts. New versions play around with ingredients, like this New England haroset with dried cranberries and maple syrup.

Here, we're sharing two recipes for charoset: a classic Ashkenazi style made with apples, walnuts, and a sweet kosher for Passover wine from Wolfgang Puck; and a Sephardic style recipe, which incorporates raisins, dates, apricots, and almonds, from Serious Eats.

Ashkenazi Style Charoset

Ingredients makes 4 to 6 servings 6 cups peeled, cored and grated (Granny Smith apples) 2 lemons, juiced 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts 1 cup golden raisins 1/2 cup honey 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup kosher for Passover sweet red wine Optional: chopped apples

To make: Combine all of the ingredients. Allow to marinate and serve.

Sephardic Style Haroset

Ingredients makes about 4 cups 1 1/2 cups red wine (recommended: cabernet sauvignon or Manischewitz) 1 lb (2 1/2 cups) red raisins 8 oz (1 1/2 cups) dried dates, chopped fine 4 oz (3/4 cup) dried apricots, chopped fine 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste 8 oz (1 1/2 cups) roasted almonds 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

To make: Bring wine to a light simmer on medium heat, then stir in fruit and spices. Cook uncovered until fruit is well hydrated and wine has reduced to a thick syrup, about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste and set aside.

In a food processor, roughly chop almonds in short pulses. There should be no whole almonds remaining; a mix of large chunks and small crumbs is preferable. Remove almonds from food processor and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add fruit mixture to food processor and pulse until fruit just begins to come together into a paste, 2 to 3 one-second pulses. Do not overprocess--large chunks of fruit should be intact.

Transfer fruit to mixing bowl and combine well with almonds. Stir in orange blossom water and additional salt if needed. Flavor of haroset will improve over time. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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