Charoset is the fruit mixture that is one of the food items on the Seder plate. We dip the maror (bitter herb) in the Charoset. The Charoset is also one of the components, along with maror and matzah, in the Hillel sandwich. The Talmud tells us that the more symbolism we can impart on our Seder food, the better. Charoset, therefore, is simultaneously sweet, because of the good we wish upon ourselves and our people; and it is mortar-like to remind us of the mortar our forebearers had to make, a reminder of our slavery and oppression.
The first known recipe for Charoset is found in the siddur (prayer book) of Saadya Gaon (882-942 CE), the head of the yeshiva (Talmudic academy) in the Babylonian city of Sura. His recipe calls for a sauce made from dates, walnuts, and spice, and kneaded into red wine vinegar. In terms of the Ashkenazi custom, we have a recipe from Rabbi Elazar ben Judah (c. 1165-1230) of Charoset made from grated apples, into which he added the fruits mentioned in the Song of Songs — e.g. walnuts, figs, and pomegranates. Also in the mix was black pepper, ginger, cumin, and horseradish!
Basically, when it comes to Charoset, the rule is that anything goes — as long as it is sweet and in some way mortar-like.
We have turned our Charoset into balls — easier to eat and, at the same time, each one flavoured in its own unique way to represent one of the Four Sons mentioned in the Haggadah. You decide who is who!
200g pitted dates
100g walnut halves
3 tablespoons sweet red wine
50g walnuts, chopped fine for rolling
Chili Charoset Balls:
110g: pecan halves
200g pitted dates
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon hot chili powder
80g desiccated coconut, plus extra 4 tablespoons for rolling
125g cashew butter
50g granulated sugar
Zest of 2 limes
2 teaspoons lime juice
- 120g slivered almonds
- 60g desiccated coconut, plus extra 4 tablespoons for rolling
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200g dried apricots
Method for all four:
1. Place all the ingredients, aside for the extra nuts or coconut for rolling, in the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture has come together into a paste.
2. With slightly wet hands roll the mixture into 2cm balls, and then roll in the extra topping.
3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week, bring to room temperature to serve.