Harosi isn’t just for the Seder plate. Make a good one and you’ll find any excuse to eat it.
So long as my grandfather was alive, making harosi each year was one of his favorite cooking projects. He made huge batches of it. Vats! At the Seder there were always a few large bowls of it on the table, and on our way home Gramps would gift each family member a jar or two – personalized with our names, and swaddled in acres of paper toweling and rubber bands – so we could keep spreading the love throughout the week of Passover. We spread it on matza. We spread it on cake. On cheese. Over ice cream. On spoons – it’s great straight from the jar. Ottoman Sephardim alreay eat spoon sweets, and to us harosi is just one more.
It’s not the prettiest stuff. Harosi represents the bricks and mortar the Jews made as slaves in Egypt. As a little kid attending an Ashkenazi religious school, I was convinced they thought the stuff was supposed to taste like mortar, too, not just look like it. Each year as part of the Passover lesson, they’d break out the paper plates and serve up a snack of grainy, grated apples, wilted and brown from oxidation, with huge chunks of raw broken walnuts and waaay too much cinnamon. It never held together in any sense (so much for Ashkenazi mortar-making skills), and I truly didn’t mind if my snack fell off the matza and onto the floor. Even at five, six, seven years of age, in those moments I took great, if quiet, pride in my cultural distinction.
Granted, my family’s harosi isn’t so pretty, either. There’s no way around it, you’re going to wind up with an opaque purplish mush. But it’s luscious and sweet. Try it after dessert with some cheese and a glass of chilled white, or straight from the spoon. You’ll be happy.