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Venetian Charoset

Kristine Winber

This recipe comes from the famous Luzzatto family of Venice.  Members of the family have lived in Italy since 1541 and probably before.  [F.E.'s note:  According to The Encyclopedia Judaica, the Luzzato family originally settled in the area of Venice in the mid-1400's.]  Luzzattos were well-known to Italians from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment as rabbis, poets, historians, and other prominent personalities.  Francis Luzzatto of Washington, D.C. works for the Peace Corps and is a keeper of family traditions.  This is his family's recipe, which I got from a friend of his.  Since moving to Des Moines, I have had to substitute almond paste for the chestnut – either one is good.

Food Editor's note:  This is a really interesting charoset to serve at a seder for two reasons.  First, it has a very interesting history, which I think adds a lot to the experience, especially with a ritual food item.  Imagine making and serving at your seder charoset that was eaten by the famous Luzzatto family in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries!  Second, the charoset itself has many more ingredients than is typical and some unusual ones, like the chestnut paste, poppy seeds, and pine nuts.  The flavor is sophisticated and quite delicious.  And the mixture is very thick, like mortar, but studded with yummy morsels of different textures and tastes.  This recipe makes a lot – enough to fill a fairly large bowl.  You might want to halve the amounts if you're having a small crowd.  If made in advance (I made mine the day before serving), keep covered in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.  For an adult crowd, you might try presenting a selection of charoset recipes at your seder (e.g., the traditional apple-walnut, Jeff Nathan's Mango-Date Charoset, and this one) and see what your guests have to say!

1 1/2 cups chestnut paste
10 ounces chopped dates
12 ounces chopped figs
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup pine nuts
Grated rind of one orange
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped apricots
1/2 cup brandy
Honey to bind
Combine all the ingredients, gradually adding just enough brandy and honey to make the mixture bind, or to taste.

Kristine Winber is married to the Food Editor's sister-in-law's cousin.  They met at a family bar mitzvah and of course started talking about food and special recipes.  Kristine's husband raved about this charoset recipe, which we are grateful that Kristine has shared with ShalomBoston.com.

Venetian Charoset



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