At first mention of the news that Ben & Jerry’s was now selling a Charoset-flavored Ice Cream in Israel, I thought the idea sounded a little like a marketing ploy. But after mulling it over I realized that while being pretty out of the box, Charoset-flavored “anything” is not so far-fetched. One of the symbolic foods on the Passover Seder plate, this fruit and nut mixture symbolizes the mortar the Jews used to build the pyramids while they were slaves in Egypt. Depending on where your ancestors were from, your Charoset might be a variation on the theme, but according to Bustle, “the Ben and Jerry’s flavor seems to be based on the Ashekanzi or Eastern European version made from apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and some sort of sweetener like honey.” And, as my mom would say, “What could be bad?”
The combo of apples, walnuts, and cinnamon is indeed, quite traditional. Frankly, if Ben & Jerry had called their creation “Apple Pie,” and offered it around Thanksgiving time, no one would have batted an eye.
I thus began to think of all the dishes one could make while using Charoset as a base—sandwich cookies, tarts, rugelach, and I even found a chicken salad and a brisket recipe that both sounded wonderful. Charoset muesli (kosher for Passover, of course), Charoset pancakes, muffins...
Of course, one could get carried away, but I played it safe and created a Charoset Strudel. I retained the traditional mixture of chopped apples and walnuts (but you could use pears and pistachios), and took a page from the book of the Sephardic Jews who favor a few more add-ins, such as dried apricots and dates, and incorporated them as well. The melange of fruits and nuts is often moistened with sweet wine, but one could just as easily use apple juice or apricot nectar.
The strudel dough recipe is an adaptation from a similar one by pastry chef Marcy Goldman. The texture is more cookie-like than filo-dough strudel, but it is tasty and haimish (homey); something perhaps a Jewish grandma might make. And if your grandma is no longer at your Seder table, this strudel will definitely bring her there in spirit.
Passover Charoset Strudel
1/2c. vegetable oil
1/2c. brown sugar
insides of a scraped vanilla bean
1/4 tsp. salt
2-4 Tbsp. apple juice
1 1/4c. potato starch
1/2c. matzoh cake meal
1/2c. matzoh meal
1/2c. sweetened, shredded coconut
1c. walnuts, light toasted and coarsely ground
1/4c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1/2c. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/2c. dates, coarsely chopped
1/4c. preserves, any flavor
1/2 Tbsp. matzoh meal
Passover Powdered Sugar :
1/3c. granulated sugar
1/2tsp. potato starch
Grind together in an electric coffee/spice grinder until powdery
Make dough: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, mix together oil, brown sugar, vanilla bean scrapings, salt, eggs, and most of the apple juice. Stir in the potato starch, matzoh cake meal, and matzoh meal and mix together on low, adding additional apple juice to form a soft, rollable dough. Allow dough to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. (Moisten again w/a tad more juice, if necessary.) Divide the dough in half.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Roll out dough half between two sheets of waxed paper until each becomes a very thin 5 by 10-inch rectangle.
Make Filling: Mix all ingredients in a food processor until mixture resembles a coarse paste. Spread half the filling over the dough. Lightly sift the 1/2 tablespoon of matzoh meal over filling. Using the bottom sheet of waxed paper as an aid, roll up the dough into a log. Brush the top with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling, and topping.
Transfer the logs to prepared baking sheet and score them into 1-inch sections. Bake until lightly golden , about 35 minutes. Cool, and sift approximately 2 tablespoons Passover Powdered Sugar over the tops. Then, using a very sharp knife, cut the scored sections into slices. (Rolls may be frozen and then cut right before serving.)