Passover is not a holiday known for its food. In fact, it's largely known for the food you can't eat during it (no leavened or fermented foods; ditto for foods made with wheat, oats, barley, rye, and spelt). And yet, I find myself looking forward to it every year because there is one thing I can't wait to stuff into my mouth: my mother's charoset. It's the world's simplest recipe (chop stuff up and throw it into a bowl!) but unlike, say, matzo ball soup, which I order often at diners, I don't get to eat it any other time of year.
When I emailed, asking for her recipe, here's what I got in return: "Two apples, chopped walnuts, and kosher wine. I don't measure any of it. I eye ball it. Add wine but make sure it isn't soupy."
Why are all good family recipes written out like this? Luckily, we have a staff of expert recipe testers who turned my mom's gibberish into a real recipe that all of us can use.
Technically used on the Seder plate to resemble the mortar and brick made by the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh, the dish is not as dense or cement-like as one would think. It's actually sweet (but not too sweet), crunchy, and juicy. I eat it directly out of the container (using a spoon, of course!) or I pile up pieces of matzo and use them as little unleavened delivery vessels.
Related: Medjool Date and Apple Charoset
Apple Walnut Charoset
2 medium Granny Smith apples
8 ounces toasted walnuts (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup kosher sweet wine, such as Manischewitz concord grape
Matzo, for serving
Peel and core the apples. Chop into very small diced pieces, and place in a large bowl. Chop the walnuts into pieces the same size as the apples and add to the bowl.
Add the sugar or honey, cinnamon, and salt, and stir to combine. Add the wine and stir to combine. Let the charoset sit until the flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Serve with matzo.
- Food processor method: You can chop the apples and walnuts in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse them separately until finely chopped but not a paste.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but the apples may discolor as they start to oxidize.
- Dietary tweaks: If you want sweeter flavors but happen to be vegan, swap the honey for agave syrup.