Charoset is a sweet, sometimes alcoholic spread or chutney served on Passover. As a ritual food it’s spread on the cracker-like bread substitute called matzo, and meant to symbolize the mortar between the bricks of Egyptian building projects in the story of Exodus. As an Egyptologist I find this topic problematic, but let’s stick to the food: Ashkenazi Jews–those of European ancestry–usually make charoset with chopped apples, walnuts, wine, and raisins, while Sephardic Jews–who trace their ancestry to north Africa, Spain, and the Middle East–make theirs with dates, figs, or apricots, and lots of spices. I much prefer a date base for my charoset, and I recently decided that this spread is far too delicious to make only once a year. I’ve been eating it on toast, and sometimes with a spoon. My recipe adds a New England twist–maple syrup–and the balancing tang of salted almonds.
- 8oz pitted dates (you can even use really dry ones for this–it’s a pretty good way to revive some of the tasteless bagged ones!)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (real maple syrup, people; there is no such thing as Bubbe Jemima)
- 1/4 cup salted almonds
- 1.5 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup water
Piece o’ cake. Combine these ingredients in a food processor and blend them into a smooth paste. I ran the dry ingredients through mine first before adding the wet ones, just to make sure everything was well incorporated. Mazel tov, you made charoset! Now spread it on some bread and pretend you aren’t breaking any taboos. 😉