Sunday, March 28, 2010

Michelle's Kitchen in Toronto Passover Special - Laurie's Sephardic Charoset

It's that time of year again! No, not Easter - though that is also just around the corner. Passover (Pesach) for us Jews starts tomorrow night. Passover is an eight day Jewish holiday that commemorates the flight of the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt in biblical times. The Hebrews were trying to get out of Egypt as fast as they could so that the Pharoah would not have time to change his mind. As such, they did not have time to even allow their bread to rise so Passover is the holiday of Unleavened bread as well. Jews all over the world refrain from eating anything that expands when cooking or has leavening. This includes bread, rice, pasta and even some legumes. This is why we eat matzah - unleavened bread which resembles a large cracker - at this time of the year.

Just in time for my family's Passover seder (the traditional dinner), I decided to post my go-to recipe for charoset - one of the symbolic foods on our special seder plate. Many years ago, a dear family friend made a similar version of this charoset and I have been playing with it for years. It is in the Sephardic style, which means Jews from countries like Spain, Morrocco, Tunisia and Portugal.

Laurie's Sephardic Charoset

1 cup dried dates, pitted
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chopped pitted prunes
1 cup pear peeled and cubed
1 cup apple peeled and cubed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup red wine (I used a fruity Beaujolais)
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 tsp star anise
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water (to start but keep water handy during the cooking process)

Put the fruit, nuts, spices and wine in a pot on medium heat. Allow the alcohol to burn off the put in the remaining ingredients. Simmer 1-2 hours until the fruit is soft, the water has reduced and the flavours condense. You may need to add more water during cooking so the fruit doesn't burn or stick to the bottom.

I grind my own spices, but you can use whatever you have on hand that is freshest. Laurie only uses cinnamon and nutmeg, but I forgot to buy nutmeg so I used what I had on hand. Also, any dried fruits will do, but if you are not using dates you may need to add some sugar and omit the lemon juice. Not only is this amazing on the seder plate, I also love it to have on matzah for breakfast with some cream cheese. Enjoy!


  1. Ooh, Sasha I'm going to make this for Cauldron Boy. We love Moroccan and Tunisian, and I should be better about cooking traditional things for him during these Holidays that I'm unfamiliar with-thanks for sharing this!

  2. Thanks - This is actually a guest post from Michelle - my friend in Toronto :)

  3. Mich - this sounds so delicious!! Love the combo of dried fruits & spices...

  4. great recipe..I love the history included..delish!!



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