We Have a Winner for Our Charoset Contest!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I  am happy to announce Amy Kritzer’s Apple-Beet Charoset as our contest winner. Amy will receive the beautiful etched glass charoset dish from BeeDazzled Designs in Houston.

But these entries were all very special, and I wish we could send a prize to each of you. To me, the personal stories invested in our holiday foods are as important as the ingredients; they always make recipes taste richer. So I especially loved Alene’s note about her family Passover, and her lovely comment that she hopes her charoset recipe would “contribute to the binding together of those that I love.”

RMH’s Nona’s Charoset was simple and delicious. Orange lovers will adore the deep citrus flavor that using the frozen OJ concentrate brings—I’m guessing this would also make a terrific filling for hamantaschen. And Robin’s luscious charoset was exotic and yes—even sensuous!

The beets married very well in taste and texture with the traditional ingredients in Amy’s Apple-Beet Charoset. I wasn’t sure if candying the walnuts would make the recipe too sweet, but while it is definitely sweet, these walnuts make a fine addition (and one you can adopt for your own charoset recipes as well—plus I always find that toasting the nuts enhances every charoset). A few testing notes: I used small beets, so the flavor of the beets wouldn’t overpower the other ingredients; you can buy these in many markets already cooked and peeled (they’re in the refrigerated produce sections), to save time. Caramelizing the sugar (heating it until it melts) adds not just sweetness, but the slight bitterness of caramel. But it is tricky and sugar burns all too quickly (I burned mine the first time). So keep your eye on the pan, stir constantly, and remove from heat as soon as it’s melted. Next time, I would add a bit of salt too, because I love caramel with a tinge of saltiness for contrast. This has many flavors, so in order to capture all of them in one mouthful, chop everything quite fine. I might even do it using on/off turns in a food processor to a chunky consistency.

All the recipes are below. Try one for your Seder or include one of them at the table, in addition to your usual favorite. And let us know what you think!

Happy, healthy, and delicious Passover to all!
 

Amy Kritzer’s Apple Beet Charoset

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8
Amy describes this as “an alternative to traditional charoset for Passover with the addition of beets, dates and candied walnuts!”
Ingredients
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
4 apples (I used Pink Lady. Gala is tasty too)
4 beets
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup Manischewitz or sweet red wine

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the walnuts in a single layer until toasted, or about 5-7 minutes. Next up, put your 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan on medium heat and mix while melting the sugar. As soon as the sugar is melted, add the nuts and quickly coat the nuts. Transfer nuts to piece of wax or parchment paper and immediately break up the nuts with spoons. After you make your nuts, get those beets cooking! Wash your beets and cut in half. Roast for at least 1 hour in the 350 degree oven until tender. When your beets are ready, they should be easy to peel with your hands or a paring knife (once cool of course!)Peel your beets and peel and core your apples and dice ‘em up. Then add the diced dates and cooled nuts. Mix that up and add the sugar and cinnamon and mix. And then the honey and wine and mix one more time! Serve with matzah!

Notes
Cook time is for beets only. Beets can be cooked ahead of time.

Alene’s Charoset

Alene writes: “This was my grandmother's traditional Ashkenazi recipe. I remember celebrating Passover in her tiny apartment in Los Angeles with my parents, brothers, aunt and uncle and cousins. Six kids searching for the afikomen under the cushions of my grandma's small couch brings back wonderful memories! To me, Passover is synonymous with family. Charoset symbolically represents the mortar that the ancient Hebrews used to build store-houses in the cities and similarly, I hope this recipe will continue to contribute to the binding together of those that I love.”
1 cup of grated apple
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
enough wine to hold the mixture together!

Robin’s Sephardic Charoset

Robin writes: “I love this dense Sephardic Charoset dish:”

1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried apples
 1/2 cup dried prunes
1/2 cup dried pears
 12 oz. jar cherry preserves
1/3 cup Malaga wine

In food processor, combine coconuts, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon with 2-3 pulses. Add dried fruits and chop with 3-4 pulses until mixture is in medium size pieces. Place in 4-quart pot, with water to cover. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon for about 1 hour. When the mixture begins to thicken, stir in cherry preserves. Remove from heat; add wine and let cool. Makes about 8 cups

RMH’s Nona’s (Grandmother’s) Charoset

RMH writes: “We are Sephardic, so our Charoset recipe is sweeter than the recipe used by most Ashkenazi Jews. This is truly a favorite by all those that have joined us for the holiday.”

Ingredients:
1 pound raisins
1 peeled apple
3/4 cup walnuts 
1/2  can frozen OJ from concentrate –

Grind all ingredients together until blended.

Refrigerate.

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