“California” Charoset

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  2.25 cups
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  0 minutes

“California” Charoset

Charoset is one of the traditional items on the Passover seder plate. The mix of chopped nuts and fruit symbolizes the mortar used by the ancient Israelite slaves when building Egyptian monuments. Like many Ashkenazi charosets, this one is rich in cinnamon and walnuts. But like many Sephardic and Mizrachi charosets, this one is sweetened with plenty of dates and enriched with the sweetness of almonds. But to make this recipe bespoken and California-esque, I tilted it toward the large Persian population in Los Angeles by adding pomegranate molasses, pistachios, and cardamom (preferably green). Since magnificent California produce often supplies the fruit basket for the entire United States, I wanted to showcase plums, so I chose dried plums, aka prunes, and Asian pears to round out the texture. If you have fresh cherimoya available, get one and peel, seed, trim, and chop, and add it in for an even creamier treat.

Ingredients

½ cup toasted walnuts halves (see Kitchen Tips)

½  cup toasted blanched almonds (see Kitchen Tips)

½ cup shelled toasted pistachios (see Kitchen Tips)

1 teaspoon roasted ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon roasted ground cardamom, green preferred (see Kitchen Tips)

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (see Kitchen Tips)

1 cup pitted, soft Medjool dates

½ cup pitted prunes

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons mild honey (such as orange clover, wildflower, or Greek)

2 Asian pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch pieces

½ fresh cherimoya, peeled, trimmed, and seeded, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the toasted walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cinnamon and cardamom in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process in ten (1-second) pulses until the nuts are broken up and well mixed.
  2. Add the ginger, dates, prunes, pomegranate molasses, honey, Asian pear, and cherimoya, if using, and process until smooth, with small pieces of nuts still visible. This will keep well in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Kitchen Tips

  1. You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts  recipe.
  2. Roasted ground cardamom is available commercially, but roasting your own seeds and grinding them is infinitely more flavorful. Buy whole cardamom pods and place a few on a work surface. Using the flat side of a large chef’s knife, (being careful not to have the blade face you), gently press on the pods. The seeds will start popping out. Gather up the tiny seeds to use in your recipe. If, like this one, your recipe calls for roasted cardamom, pour the whole seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Toasted or not, you can grind the seeds them in a spice grinder or a perfectly clean coffee grinder. If you like, you can reserve the  husks for infusing liquids such as teas and sauces.
  3. Wondering why we call for grating the ginger even though it will eventually be ground in the food processor? If you don’t grate first, the processor will leave those icky strings.

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