Thursday, April 28, 2011

what is caramel chocolate matzo crunch? ( addictive, can't-stop-eating, treat)

long story short...i was asked this year to prepare a Jewish Seder Meal.  i am not Jewish, nor had i ever attended a Seder, so i did a ton of research to ensure everything was authentic and proper in addition to tasting delicious.  i knew that dairy and meat were forbidden and that leavened grains were also not allowed, so extra virgin olive oil and almond milk were used in the garlic mashed potatoes, potato starch was used to thicken the gravy, matzo stood in for bread during dinner...and i followed instructions from for preparing the seder plate.

dessert was a bit more of a challenge.  no flour or dairy?  what to make?   i did some more research and came up with a number of options.  then, a few days before the meal, my twitter/facebook friend davina cucina commented on a post from the blogger/writer david lebovitz about a recipe for matzo covered with caramel and topped with chocolate.  oh man!  this delicious sounding treat promised easy prep, quick and effortless execution, crowd pleasing results....i was sold.  i checked google and saw a number of recipes...all pretty similar....all promising the same results.  eureka!  i found my dessert. when i say this was a hit, i am under emphasizing the reaction.  the dinner guests loved it.  i mean seconds, thirds, fourths loved it.  i mean, "can i take some home?" loved it.  a couple of people actually gathered up all the crumbs to " use as a topping over ice cream".  trust must make it....  soon.  you will make it often.  since matzo is available year round, this may become your secret weapon for easy-but-impressive desserts.

are you sold yet?  the recipe is as easy as this....cover the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with a single layer of matzos.  pour some hot caramel sauce (melted butter/margarine and brown sugar with a bit of salt and vanilla) over the matzos.  bake for 15 minutes.  remove from oven and top with chocolate chips (i used dark chocolate to avoid dairy, but semi-sweet works well too)  let the chips sit for a few minutes to begin melting and then use an off-set spatula to spread the chocolate over the caramel. add toasted nuts if you wish... let harden, break into pieces...serve.   i made half plain chocolate, half topped with toasted almonds.  both were loved...but the almond topped ones were the fav for my group.

as i said, there are a ton of variations of this recipe on web searches...all very similar...but i liked david lebovitz's the best, so that is the one i used.  he suggests topping the plain ones with flaked sea salt...that is how i will make it next time.  he also notes that any type of cracker would work if you don't want matzos...even gluten free.  i will post his recipe here...but i suggest you check out his site to read his descriptions.  if i have not sold you...he will.  plus, you should read his blog often anyway...he is brilliant! 

the recipe below makes about 30 pieces of toffee.  i was cooking for 100, so i made 8 batches.  (actually, i made one big batch and just multiplied everything by eight. worked beautifully, so increase this to whatever quantity you need.)  enjoy...

Chocolate Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch
from David Lebovitz
(red font, my notes)

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs (look for boxes marked "for passover" during that time...otherwise regular matzos will do)1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks (or vegan margarine during passover, i use earth balance)1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)

1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds (optional)

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
3. In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.

Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.

do you have a favorite, fast, easy go-to dessert recipe?  please share in the comments section of this post.


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "

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beti said...

I just made a batch of this!!! I used chopped toasted macadamian nuts and sprinkled a bit of sea salt!! Oh yeah yummy!! I have done this before with just saltines but this was great as I had some matzo left over. I like to keep my in the freezer as it keeps it really crunchy!!

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

beti, the macadamian nuts and sea salt idea is fantastic! yum...thanks for the freezer tip.