Moroccan Haroset Balls for the President
By Susan Barocas
This is the haroset recipe that I made for the First Family at their White House Seder in 2015. (You can read about my experience here.)
Haroset is a mixture evocative of the mortar the Israelite slaves mixed and used to erect Pharoah’s buildings. That being said, haroset-making is a reflection of the available ingredients and cuisines of the many countries that Jews call home. It is also delightfully imprecise and subject to the preparer’s taste and traditions as nearly every ingredient can be adjusted to personal preference. So, taste as you go and feel free to add the word “about” in front of any of the ingredients to put your own touch on your haroset. Whatever you make will soon become part of your own special Passover traditions.
There is a tradition in Moroccan-Jewish families of rolling up haroset into small balls that are delicious eaten alone or squished between two pieces of matzah. Some recipes use allspice as well as cinnamon. I like the added depth of flavor from using both and especially the hint of mystery from the allspice, a lesser-used spice in the US. Honestly, these balls make a healthy, sweet snack for kids (and grown-ups) all year ‘round.
Serves a crowd.2 cups pitted dates (about 24 medium-sized)
6-7 dried figs
1 cup raisins, dark or golden or a mixture of the two
10-12 dried apricot halves
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 to 2 tablespoons sweet red wine or grape juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or to taste
Couple pinches allspice (optional)
½ cup raw or toasted almonds, very finely ground (optional)
Using a food processor with the metal blade, pulse and grind the dates, figs, raisins and apricots coarsely. Add the walnuts and pulse until mixture is finely chopped and blended together, roughly. As you go, add just enough wine or grape juice to make the mixture stick together. Too much and it will be too sticky. As you pulse it, the mixture will start to form a large ball.
Very slightly dampen hands with cold water when needed as you work. Gently roll the mixture into balls, marble- to walnut-sized depending on personal preference. Then roll each ball in finely ground nuts if you want, or do a mixture with and without the nut coating. Place haroset balls in a single layer on a tray or cookie sheet that has been covered with waxed or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. Once cold and firm, the balls can be layered and kept in a container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks…if they last that long.