Sweetness for a Bitter Holiday

Still frustrated about not finding many vegan sweets that my family can eat during Passover, I opt to help out and make one of the traditional dishes of the season, which actually happens to be vegan by default. (Again!)

Found at every traditional seder is Charoses, a food that is meant to sweeten the bitter tears (The salt water and bitter herb) that represent the pain of slavery. In this application it is eaten with matzoh, sometimes in addition to moror (Horseradish,) but it has many other tasty options. This depends on how you like yours, so I’ll get to that later.

Charoses is so simple, there isn’t even a written recipe in our house, so I’ll try to approximate measurements if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself. Don’t stress out, there’s nothing precise about it, and it only requires three things:

Apples, wine, and nuts.

First things first, peel and core three apples, preferably a sweeter variety like Fujis are ideal. Throw these into a wooden bowl, along with a good handful of nuts – Walnuts are traditional, but I find them a bit bitter… And besides, we already had pecans on hand, so I used those. Maybe start with 1/2 cup, and then depending on how your mixture looks you can add in more? It’s really up to you.

Now, mash those bad boys up real good! …But don’t massacre it! You’re looking for a chunky mixture, not a puree. That’s why I tend to use the hand-chopper, but if you’re just not into that or want to save time, you could probably get the same results from a food processor, as long as you kept an eye one it.

With the addition of about 1/2 cup of Manischewitz, (Or, I suppose you could substitute a sweetened grape juice if you don’t want to use alcohol) this is what mine looks like. By no means is this the only way it should come out. I’ve seen other people make theirs so smooth it’s more like applesauce! As something that smooth, it could make a tasty dip for unsalted crackers, or a spread for toast… Chunkier makes a great sandwich filling… and if you throw it under the broiler with some brown sugar, cinnamon, and crumbled matzoh, it makes for a warm and comforting dessert.

If you do try it, just play around with it! There are so many areas open to variation, and then the sky is the limit with what you can do with the end product.

6 thoughts on “Sweetness for a Bitter Holiday

  1. This is the way I’ve always made it, too, except I add a bit (or a lot) of cinnamon. Our family tradition has always been to use pecans because we are in the Southern USA where pecan trees are plentiful.

    One or two years I”ve made a second batch and added chopped prunes and raisins to the above mixture. It is delicious that way, too. And, I’ve seen recipes for a “fruit salad” made with chopped pears, chopped nuts, and just enough honey to hold the mixture together.

    This is oh, so tasty, and healthful, too. We’d love to eat it year-round, but since it is a “traditional, symbolic food for Passover”, I only serve it then, to keep it “special.”

    Barbara in SC

  2. Hannah, I hate to tell you that Manischewitz wine is not vegan. They use fish gelatin in the processing of it. I called them directly. It seems that they can not say which batches of wine have fish gelatin or which have agar agar in them as they always purchase the cheapest at the moment. And at the time of my call three years ago they were using fish gelatin.

    We use grape juice or vegan wine instead. email me if you want to discuss further.

  3. This is my favourite dish at Passover! Frankly, between the gefilte fish and the brisket, I’m left with few options…but no matter. It’s something I tend to enjoy once a year but now I can make it tomorrow!
    And thanks to Barbara for the variation suggestions. :)

  4. Hi Hannah,
    I’ve had this post saved in my Bookmarks for years! The reason is because I am looking for a nut crusher similar to the one you have in the photo. Do you have any idea where you have have got that from?


      1. Thanks for your quick reply! That’s okay, I totally assumed it was old! I will forever keep my eyes open for something like it. Regardless, I love it, and I’m jealous!

Leave a Reply