Passover began last Friday night, and with Passover comes charoset. For those who don’t know, charoset is a sort of spread made of apples, walnuts, red wine, and cinnamon, and it is one of Josh’s favorite snacks. While Josh would be content to eat it on matzo until the whole batch is gone, I am always scheming up new baked creations.
After thinking for days about cookies and cakes, I eventually settled on a sweet bread. I started with a banana bread recipe I found in this Betty Crocker cookbook. In place of the mashed bananas, I simply substituted 1 1/2 cups of prepared charoset. If you are feeling adventurous, you could add more spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom, to give it a little kick. I didn’t, however, because I wanted to preserve the distinctive charoset flavor.
Once the charoset is prepared, this recipe takes very little time to put together. However, it does take awhile to bake (sometimes longer than the estimate depending on the moisture content), so be sure to take that into account. (I may have put this into the oven shortly before I should have started baking a ham… all I’m saying is to learn from my mistakes.)
You will need the following ingredients:
For the charoset (makes approximately 2 cups, depending on the size of your apples):
- 3 Granny Smith apples
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- Manischewitz Concord Grape wine to moisten, approximately 2-4 Tbsp.
For the bread:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp. butter, softened (it would be fine to melt it in this instance)
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
For baking ambiance:
- This time, I went with shock rocker Alice Cooper. I admit this choice doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I simply felt like listening to Alice Cooper. [Perhaps there was also a subliminal link between my Frankenstein monster of a recipe and a certain hit song…]
Let’s get baking!
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease only the bottom of a 9″x5″ loaf pan (I used cooking spray, but butter or vegetable oil would work too).
Prepare the Charoset
Unfortunately, this one is difficult to do without a food processor. You can crush or chop the nuts by hand, but it will take quite some time to make the apples small enough to make the correct consistency. It is doable, and there are hand tools available that will help, but I will be talking about how to do this in a food processor.
Begin by placing the walnuts in the food processor and processing until you have large crumbs (think cookie crumbs). Place the ground nuts in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Next, rinse, core, and roughly chop your apples. The size of your chopped apples depends on how strong your food processor is. I was able to get away with 1″ chunks. Put the apple chunks in the food processor and process until they are ground into slightly larger pieces than the walnuts (you may need to do this in shifts).
Combine the ground applies with the ground walnuts and stir until well-combined. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon until they are evenly distributed.
Pour a small amount of wine (start with 1 tablespoon) into the mixture and stir. You will need to taste after each addition of wine to determine how much you need. You should be able to just taste the grape flavor through the apples and cinnamon. Be sure not to add to much, as this will overpower your charoset and make it soggy.
Now set the charoset aside and cream the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Blend in the eggs.
Stir in the water and 1 1/2 cups of the charoset you just prepared and beat for 30 seconds.
Stir in the remaining ingredients until just moistened. You don’t want to overmix because it will affect the consistency of the bread.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. I suggest you test a few different areas of the bread, as it can cook unevenly, leaving you with some parts that are nicely cooked, and some that are completely raw.
Let your bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then loosen the sides with a butter knife and remove it from the pan. Let the bread cool completely before you slice it, because it will fall apart if it is too warm when you try to cut it.