Charoset is a fruit and nut mixture that is used as a blessing for the Passover Seder. The texture of charoset symbolizes the mortar used by the ancient Israelite slaves of Egypt when they toiled under the rule of Pharaoh. Most Jews have a soft spot for charoset; eating it signifies the end of the long Haggadah blessings and the beginning of the Seder feast. In our home, we make extra charoset for the Seder and nosh on it all week!
My family’s charoset recipe is pureed to a paste before serving, Sephardic-style. Many of my Seder guests prefer the chunkier Ashkenazi style, so over the years I have created my own version. Most Ashkenazi charoset recipes are pretty simple, a mix of apples, sweet kosher wine, walnuts and spices. Of course I wanted to create my own spin on this concept. I developed a basic apple charoset, heavy on cinnamon and spice, sweetened with wine and honey. Then, rather than integrating walnuts into the charoset, I candied them with cayenne for a crunchy finish with a kick of spice. The walnuts here are served as a topping to the charoset; you shouldn’t mix them in or they’ll lose their delicious candied crunch.
This charoset can be made ahead– in fact, I encourage you to marinate it overnight before serving to improve the flavor. The nuts can also be candied ahead of time and stored separately from the charoset. Sprinkle on the candied nuts just before you put it on the table, or serve the nuts alongside the charoset and allow people to sprinkle their own onto each serving.
Note: this is an updated version of a recipe I posted back in 2010, not long after I started this blog. I like this new version much better than the original! I hope you will too.
Apple Cinnamon Charoset Ingredients
- 1 1/2 lbs. Gala or Fuji apples (about 4 medium apples)
- 5-6 tbsp sweet kosher wine
- 1 tbsp honey (use agave to make vegan)
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- Salt to taste
Candied Walnut Ingredients
- 1 cup raw walnuts (no shell)
- 1/2 egg white
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- Dash of cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg (optional)
To Make Charoset
- Peel and core the apples, then chop them fine. I usually put them in a food processor and pulse a few times till they're chopped fine but with texture. Careful, it's easy to over-chop if you go this route and you could end up with applesauce!
- Place the chopped apples in a bowl. Stir in 5 tbsp sweet kosher wine, honey, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and a pinch of salt (to taste). Taste the mixture; if you feel it needs more moisture or sweetness, add a bit more kosher wine. The wine will be soaked up a bit as the charoset marinates, but you don't want it puddling too much at the bottom of the bowl... a little puddling is fine.
- Cover the bowl, place in the refrigerator, and allow the mixture to marinate for 24 hours.
To Make Candied Walnuts
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Separate egg white from yolk, then pour half of the egg white into a mixing bowl (just eyeball this, it doesn't half to be exact). Use a whisk to beat the egg white till frothy, then beat in the sugar, salt, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the walnuts to the egg mixture and stir till the walnuts are fully coated in the seasoned egg white mixture.
- Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Bake for 15-20 minutes till crisp. Remove sheet from the oven and allow the nuts to cool on the sheet.
- Pour the candied nuts onto a cutting board and roughly chop them into smaller pieces.
- Sprinkle on the candied nuts just before you put it on the table, or serve the nuts alongside the charoset and allow people to sprinkle their own onto each serving. The walnuts here are served as a topping to the charoset; you shouldn't mix them in or they'll lose their delicious candied crunch.