It’s not Passover without charoset. And in my house, that means several types, ranging from sweet to mostly spicy to the sweet and slightly spicy. Last Passover, I made charoset balls, using a Sephardic-style charoset on-the-fly that I formed into bite-sized morsels. My friends Mark and Carole told me that it was a definite keeper.
Knowing myself well – and my propensity for losing track of recipes (and lots of other stuff in my kitchen and elsewhere in the house), I wrote the recipe down and filed it away – under, amazingly enough “Mother Would Know – recipes to make.” Periodically during the year, I glanced at recipe and put it back in the folder, determined to blog about this charoset before putting it in the Passover rotation, perhaps on an ongoing basis. The story should end there, except that I lost the charoset balls recipe somewhere between my office and the kitchen last week as I began my Passover preparations.
Tragedy? Hardly – but still quite annoying. The result was a new and spicier version created with a faulty memory and no recipe to guide me.
Then, just as I had given up all hope of finding last year’s recipe, it miraculously appeared on my desk chair. How? I haven’t the foggiest notion. My husband claims no knowledge of how it got there. Although it wasn’t there when I pulled off the stack of books and papers that had prevented me from sitting on my desk chair for the past week, it appeared there on Monday morning. Miracle? Doubtful, but I’m not complaining.
I made this charoset into balls last year because shaping it into bite-sized morsels seemed like fun. I’d never had charoset balls and had no idea they are a “thing.” I’m not surprised that I re-invented the wheel charoset-wise, and wouldn’t be surprised to find this particular combination of ingredients is also someone else’s treasured family recipe. That’s the beauty of charoset, and indeed most traditional food.
Comparing the two recipes, I would say that they are on same continent but from different locales. The good news is that now I have two Sephardic-inspired charoset recipes for my guests to enjoy – this sweet one with just a tinge of spice (from crystallized ginger) and the newer one, that definitely veers toward the spicy.
Take your pick – or do as I do and make both. Happy Passover.
Or if you don’t celebrate the holiday, pull out a pie crust and turn this one into a delicious hand-pie. Blasphemy if you’re an observant Jew, at least until Passover is over, but definitely a great way to introduce charoset into your life if you’re not.
Sephardic-Style Charoset Balls
Servings – about 2 ½ cups or more than 20 charoset balls Cost – $5-6
- ½ cup each (roughly 2 ounces):
- yellow raisins
- dark raisins
- dates, roughly chopped
- figs, roughly chopped
- raw pecans
- toasted pecans
- 2 tablespoons chopped candied or crystallized ginger, homemade or store-bought
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons or slightly more, sweet wine or apple or grape juice
- Measuring cup (½ cup only)
- Measuring spoon (tablespoon and ¼ teaspoon only)
- Cutting board
- Food processor or chopping bowl and blade
- If you have a food processor, add all of the solid ingredients and about 2 tablespoons of the liquid and process into a paste. If you use a chopping bowl, you’ll probably have to do the ingredients a bit at a time. If necessary, add a bit more liquid, but keep the mixture tight so that you can easily roll it after chilling the charoset.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour. Then roll rounded teaspoonfuls of the chilled charoset into balls. Moistening your hands with cool water helps keep the stickiness to a minimum.
- Store charoset balls refrigerated, in a tightly covered container or refrigerate the mixture until a few hours before the Seder and make them then.