Charoset Bars

I couldn't sleep last night so I spent the time coming up with this idea for seder dessert.

 

Passover elicits more culinary self-righteousness than any other holiday in our religious calendar. Each household has its allowable foods and its non-allowable foods. All these ingredients used are 'not forbidden', but may, by tradition, not be used in your house during Passover. Just substitute what you do use. This recipe is more a process than an absolute.

I call it Charoset Bars, although this one was made in a pie pan. But it could be made in a square pan just as easily and then cut into bars instead of wedges.

Mix together:

Using a pastry blender, cut in about 8 T. butter, margarine, mar-parv, whatever. I used 3T butter and about 5T earth balance original in the tub. Cut in until the pieces are about the size of peas.

Scoop enough of the crumbs into your pie dish or square pan so that when you press it down firmly you will have about 3/8" thickness. I put this pressed bottom crust into the oven as it was preheating to 400°F. The oven was about 200°F when it was put in. Set the timer for 8 minutes and then take out the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, peel, core and chop apple. To give you an idea, I used one apple for this test and it fit a 6" pie pan. There would not have been enough filling for an 8" square. Adjust accordingly. Because I was going for a Passover dessert based on charoset, I also added lots of cinnamon, some sugar, chopped nuts, blueberries, and some chopped frozen sweet cherries. I didn't want to use wine because that would have been too wet and the crust shouldn't go soggy. If you want the wine essence, add some raisins or currents instead of the berries and/or cherries. Some families add ginger, chopped dates, chopped figs, etc. They would all work. Perhaps hydrate them first for 10 minutes in hot wine, or brandy, and drain before using. I also added 1T. of cornstarch, but you could use tapioca or potato starch if you prefer.

After the pre-heated crust has cooled for 10 minutes of so, put in the filling. Then top with the rest of the crumbly batter until the filling is mostly covered. You will have some height to the crumbs. This is good because they cook down. But don't press down on the top crumbs.

Place in your 400°F oven and cook for 40-ish minutes. Look for juices to bubble up through the top crust to know when it is done.

When you take it out of the oven, take a sharp knife and gently cut around the top edge of the dessert to release it from the pan. Then let the dessert cool in the pan before cutting.

Meanwhile, if you have any extra crumbs left, press them into a flat pan and bake for 20 minutes or so until lightly golden brown on top. These will cook more quickly than the fruit filled bars. When you take them out of the oven, take a sharp knife and cut them into small bars while still hot, but leave them in the pan to cool completely. Without the fruit, these are wonderful crunchy shortbread cookies.