Here’s the story behind this recipe. I was asked to bring charoset to the nth annual potluck seder a bunch of my friends threw every year. Having never made charoset before, I dutifully searched through Jewish cookbooks and articles to make the perfect charoset. I decided I needed walnuts, apples, wine and honey.
The first error was that I didn't think I was chopping the walnuts fine enough and threw them into my food processor and started grinding away. As things began to turn to paste, I kept adding more apples to “chunk” it up and wine to get the right color, because I thought the apples looked too white against what was now the walnut paste. The wine turned everything this really interesting purplish color. At that point I figured the honey was totally out of the question.
Slightly embarrassed, but having used the entire pound of walnuts, I brought it to the potluck seder. The host took one look, cracked up, and someone ran out to the hardware store around the corner to buy a “Pesadich” trowel to serve the charoset. It actually worked quite nicely when we made Hillel sandwiches (and for leftovers). It soon became a tradition for me to bring the mortar type of charoset and someone else was assigned to bring a “traditional” charoset.
I should note that this is best served with Larry’s killer homemade horseradish rather than the stuff from a jar.
1 pound of shelled walnuts
4 good sized apples, peeled, cored and sliced into chunks
a bottle of purple concord grape wine (or grape juice)
Throw two good-sized handfuls of walnuts in a food processor and pulse (with the steel blade or on the “chop” setting) until it starts to get thick and crumbly. Throw in a handful of apple chunks and continue to pulse. Keep adding walnuts and apples, and occasionally pour in little bits of wine to keep the whole mixture a bit moist and smooth.
Scrape into a bowl and serve with a trowel-shaped server.
This makes about 5 cups, enough for at least one really large seder with some left over for a smaller seder the next night.
Karla Hailer-Fidelman is a columnist for the Newton TAB and Jewish.com. She learned the hard way that you need a light touch to chop nuts in the food processor.