(Published on Baristanet April 15th, 2011)
What could be sweeter than having some charoset at your Seder table made by Mesiah? Not the Messiah, but Nicky Mesiah, Montclair’s own queen of the caramelized confections, who has come up with a charoset-inspired toffee.
I cornered Miss Nicky recently and persuaded her to divulge the secrets of the Delivery of the Enslaved Toffee-Fruit Confection (to your home).
Tell us about your history with charoset.
I grew up with Jewish kids and we swapped holiday experiences including seders, bar & batmitvahs, sleepovers, camp, etc. It was that cultural exchange which introduced me to charoset. After moving to Montclair 26 yrs. ago, I would buy it from Mardi Gras & King’s. But when I left corporate life and began my business, I decided to make it myself and realized that I craved those flavors from my childhood, and that the dish is quite healthy.
Charoset, which symbolizes the ‘mortar’ used in making the bricks in biblical times, has apples along with the dried fruit and nuts. My version doesn’t contain dates, and having more Ashkenazi Jewish friends also influenced the type of charoseth I make.
I have always been concerned with being ‘healthy, not skinny’-as my mission statement says. The sucrose-blend Splenda charoset’toffee is the lowest caloried of all of the toffee varieties I do. It contains less than 10 ingredients, including butter, sugar, nuts, raisins, dried cherries, walnuts, pinch of salt and flavorings.
Will rabbis be after you for straying from a paste eaten for thousands of years, and which takes its inspiration from mortar that’s used to adhere bricks together?
There is no chocolate in the Charoset’toffee —which is in keeping with tradition of the dish. And it has dried fruit and nuts in it, too.
Is this a dessert dish or to be eaten at the Seder?
It is great as dessert, but I also break it into small pieces and use atop a Waldorf salad. It adds a wonderful layer of sweetness from the raisins and cherries.
Thank you, Miss Nicky. The charoset’toffee was outstanding!
(P.S. Neither this toffee, nor Miss Nicky, make any claim to this delightful confection being kosher for Passover. However, it was declared a revelation by colleagues of all persuasions at Reuters)