Haroset, a blend of fruit, nuts and wine, is probably the most popular food of the eight-day holiday of Passover. To me, haroset is more than a holiday item. I use it as a basic flavoring for desserts the way French cooks use almond praline, Italians use chocolate-hazelnut gianduja and Americans use peanut butter. For this twist on blond brownies, I add haroset, dried apricots and chocolate chunks to a Passover brownie batter made with matzo cake meal and potato starch. They’re certainly easier to make than Passover sponge cakes.
You can substitute ½ cup chocolate chips for the chocolate chunks.
From the story: Versatile haroset isn’t just for Passover
In a small jar, combine the diced dried apricots and figs with the wine. Close the jar and shake a few times to moisten the fruit, then set the mixture aside for 30 minutes while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with foil and butter the foil.
In a medium bowl, mix the matzo cake meal, potato starch and salt.
In a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, or in a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth. Add the oil and the granulated and brown sugars; beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the haroset and beat on low speed until blended. Add the eggs, one by one, beating thoroughly on high speed after each one. Add 4 tablespoons of the matzo meal mixture and beat over low speed. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining matzo meal mixture. Stir in the dried fruit mixture and any wine in the jar. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
Transfer the batter to the pan and spread it in an even layer. Sprinkle over the chopped walnuts and pat them lightly so they adhere to the batter. Bake until the top browns lightly and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean, 18 to 22 minutes; if the wooden pick comes out chocolaty, test again. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.
Turn the cake out gently onto a plate, then onto another plate or a cutting board so that the walnuts are on top. Using a sharp knife, cut it carefully into 16 bars. Serve at room temperature.
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