Traditional Charoset, Texas-Style
In America, there are many regional variations of Ashkenazi charoset for Passover. When I lived in New York, I always used walnuts and Macintosh apples. In Texas, where Macs are scarce, we tend to select from a variety of sweet apples and the nut of choice is the ubiquitous pecan. The following is an adaptation of my friend Lynn Friedlander’s Houston recipe. Lynn always makes a large quantity of this Texas-style charoset. It’s so delicious, we eat it throughout the seder meal.
- Peel, core, and cut the apples into 8 pieces.
- Place half of the apples in a food-processor workbowl and pulse until the pieces are about 1⁄4 inch. (Alternatively, you can use a wooden bowl and a single-blade chopper/ hand-grater.) Transfer them to a large glass bowl and repeat with the remaining apples.
- Toast the pecans at 350°F for 5 minutes. Cool slightly, for about 3 minutes, then add them to the workbowl. Pulse the machine on and off until the pecans are finely chopped, or hand-chop.
- Mix the pecans with the apples.
- Add the cinnamon and honey to the apple mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the wine and mix well.
- If the mixture is watery, drain off the excess liquid, adjusting the cinnamon, honey, and wine as desired.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight, but preferably 1–2 days. Although the charoset will taste delicious right away, time will allow the flavors to mellow and balance.
- Always use a sweet, somewhat thick kosher wine like Concord or Malaga for this recipe. The apples and nuts will absorb some of the wine while refrigerated, and the mixture will be thicker and less watery.
- If a seder guest can’t tolerate wine in its uncooked state, take the time to simmer the heavier red wine rather than using grape juice. The viscosity of the reduced Concord wine will enhance the consistency and flavor of your charoset; juice, in contrast, will make the mixture watery and less flavorful.
- Because the sweetness of apples in the spring is less predictable and wine adds acidity to a dish, it’s best to use a sweet rather than dry wine in charoset.
- Although there is no law precluding the use of white wine in charoset, the color of the finished product will not resemble mortar as much as the combination of oxidizing apples and red wine.