Thursday, April 5, 2012

Matzah Toffee Two Ways

There's no getting around it: Passover baking is grim. It's the only time of year when I use cake mix. Nothing I do will ever make Passover sponge cake taste good, so why go to a lot of trouble and buy a bunch of stuff you'll never use again like potato starch or matzah cake meal? And do not even get me started on the nastiness of cottonseed oil. Crack open the box of Manischewitz mix, dump in the eggs and water, and get back to peeling apples for charoset already!

Matzah toffee is different, though, because it's not an imitation of a regular non-Passover dish. It doesn't taste like it's trying to be something other than matzah.

My grandmother made it every year for Passover and during the rest of the year she used Saltine crackers instead of matzah. It was always the first cookie to go from the dessert table.
Bon Appetit's most recent issue carried this recipe, which is quite similar to my grandmother's. (Although their addition of cayenne sounds more like the wicked son than my grandma.) Both are easy, the only question is whether your focus is on the caramel brittle or the chocolate. In either case, you'll want to line a half-sheet pan with parchment or foil and then lay the five sheets of matzah in a single layer, breaking as necessary.

Caramel Brittle Method

If you are all about the caramel, start by bringing 1 3/4 C sugar, 3/4 C butter or margarine, 1/4 C honey, and 1/4 C water, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring every minute or so.

For a while, there will be a fair amount of unincorporated butter boiling around in there and you will start to see little brown specks on the edge of the pan. Those are the milk solids caramelizing (a.k.a. burning) a little. Don't flip out - just keep stirring them back in toward the center.

Notice how you're not getting a lot of sugar crystals in there? That's because the honey won't let the white sugar recombine once it melts. If you don't like honey, or if it's not Passover, you could do the same with corn syrup. In any case, this boiling thing will take a fair amount of time. So go unload the dishwasher and just come back every minute or so to make sure it's not boiling over or burning.

Don't stop here!

Or here. You chose this recipe because you're all about the brittle. Don't wimp out now!

Somewhere around the ten minute mark, you will arrive at a deep amber color like this.

Now turn the heat off and let the boiling subside. Stir to smooth it out and pop any remaining bubbles. I know this caramel looks delicious, but DO NOT lick the spoon or put your finger in it. That stuff is wicked hot!

Time to pour the caramel over the matzah.

And spread it out with your knife or offset spatula.

Don't worry if it's not perfectly distributed. You're making matzah brittle, not a wedding cake. Sprinkle 1/3 C nuts over the caramel. Chopped, slivered, sliced - it's your call. And then melt about 1/2 C chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish for 90 seconds. Stir and return to the microwave for 30 second intervals until it's smooth and runny. If you are using chocolate that is kosher for Passover, it's probably also pareve (non-dairy) and may not melt well. You can add 1 t oil or butter to smooth it out. Once you get to the proper, drippy consistency, it's time to get your Jackson Pollack on. You may have to flick your wrist pretty hard to get the chocolate nicely distributed, which makes a big mess. This should only be the worst thing that happens to you today!

Let this cool for four hours. In the freezer is best. Break up into irregular pieces. Not too big, because this stuff is pretty lethally sweet.

Chocolate Lovers Method

Preheat your oven to 400. You will follow the same method as above, but this time you only boil 3/4 C sugar, 3/4 C butter or margarine and 2 T honey. And this time, DO STOP HERE.

Pour this over your matzah, spread it out evenly, and then put the whole tray in the oven. Extra points if you remember to put 1/2 C nuts in the oven now to toast while the matzah is cooking. Double extra points if you remember to take them out before they burn.

After five minutes, remove the matzah from the oven and sprinkle a bag of chocolate chips on top. A regular bag is somewhere between 9 and 14 oz. Don't spend too much time worrying about whether you have enough chocolate, because it's time to put the saucepan in the sink and fill it with water - you know that caramel sticks like crazy. 

After five more minutes, take your offset spatula or knife and spread the chocolate evenly over the caramel. It will work, I promise.

Sprinkle the nuts over evenly, and let this cool for at least four hours. In the freezer is even better.

Break into pieces as with the toffee variation.

Note: If you can't face doing two recipes, either quantity of caramel toffee will work fine for a half and half tray.

Happy Passover! Have a lovely Easter! Enjoy the spring!

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to devour a few pieces tonight! It's the only way I'll happily eat matzah.