Taste of Summer: Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake

coffee cake. whole. TheCubanReuben.comRecently, the newlywed chavurah from my synagogue — of which Kenny and I are still members, despite our clearly non-newlywed status — got together for a potluck bbq at the home of our friends, Jan and Ben. I wracked my brain for what to bring, but remembered the perfect summer-themed treat: my Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake.

coffee cake. pineapple layer. TheCubanReuben.com
The fruity pineapple layer moistens the cake the longer it sits.

With its sweet layer of crumb topping and crushed pineapple swirled though the middle, it has a tropical flavor that cannot be beat.

Even avid pineapple and coconut haters, like my friend, Adam, took second helpings of this one.

coffe cake and adam.TheCubanReuben.com
Camera phone photo of Adam serving the first slice. Want some?

If your next island adventure is a long time coming, this is a coffee cake you won’t want to miss.

To read all about its inspiration, and for the full recipe, click here, and check out my feature on My Jewish Learning’s blog, The Nosher.

A New Passover Tradition: Mango and Pineapple Charoset Balls

Cuban Charoset ballsRecently, I was approached by my friend and luminary, Rabbi Ruth, of Be’chol Lashon and  Jewish&, as she was putting together a multi-cultural blog post about charoset.  I considered submitting my family’s classic apple charoset recipe, as I make heaps of it to rave reviews every year. As I was wracking my brain for just the right recipe I realized that while many of my family’s Passover traditions stem from my father’s Ashkenazi roots, so much of my Jewish identity stems from my mother’s Cuban heritage.

My mango and pineapple charoset balls, ready to be chilled in the refrigerator.

This year, for my new charoset recipe, I found inspiration from the Sephardic tradition of forming the charoset paste into bite-sized balls, and used the flavors that I remember so well from my visits to the family in Cuba. Now, I know how my family reacts to change, so I won’t be pulling a bait and switch with their beloved spiced-apple charoset. For my family members who are reading this post, fear not. I promise that this recipe will certainly not replace our favorite charoset on the seder table, but perhaps I’ll serve it alongside the classic dish as a second option. Isn’t that how new traditions start? Also, since it is naturally quite sweet, it could even double as an acceptable dessert. That’s what we like to call a double-whammy!

For more charoset inspiration, check out the 7 different  recipes Rabbi Ruth collected from around the world, by clicking here.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mango Pineapple Charoset Balls
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Total time:
This Cuban-style Charoset is inspired by the island flavors that influence so much of my cooking. While most Charoset is served as a paste, I drew on the Sephardic tradition of making Charoset into small balls for this unique take on a classic dish.
  • 5oz dried unsweetened mango, coarsely chopped
  • 8oz dried unsweetened pineapple, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup almond slivers, toasted
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, toasted and separated
  1. In a small bowl, soak the mango in hot water for ½ hour.
  2. Drain well, and add to a food processor. Add pineapple, almonds, and 1 cup of the coconut to the mango in the food processor, and pulse only until the mixture starts to form a ball. There should still be some visible chunks.
  3. Form the mixture into bite-sized balls, and set atop a pan lined with wax paper.
  4. In a small bowl, add the last cup of shredded coconut. Roll the balls in the coconut until they are lightly coated, and return them to the wax paper.
  5. Refrigerate the balls for 1 hour or until set.


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