Marion takes over the kitchen and puts a new spin on this dangerously delicious Passover dessert with white chocolate and spicy rose sugar. Recipe and variations below.
Our family may not have every ethnic group, but we’ve got a lot of ‘em. English, Scottish, Polish, Jewish, Cherokee—and that is just a fraction of it. We are part of the portrait of America, the welcome everyone! stream that keeps reviving and renewing and invigorating us all: One family, one people, one house.
When we started planning for Passover, a couple of weeks ago, the foremost thing I was worried about was dessert. So many truly kosher-for-Passover desserts are borrrrrrring. This year I had great hopes for a couple of things, especially a cake with a great deal of roasted, ground nuts and lots of eggs, plus dates steeped in wine, lemon zest and cardamom. That experiment can best be described as unfortunate: it came out tasting like a slightly fragrant cardboard box and leaving me close to despair. But as I was poking around online, I kept bumping into versions of Matzoh Crack, a recipe primarily featuring sheets of matzoh, caramel, plenty of chocolate and sea salt. Some recipes may more politely refer to it as ‘matzoh crunch,’ but this stuff is definitely crack.
Frankly, this recipe is all over the Intertubes. The original was created 20 years ago by Marcy Goldman of betterbaking.com; since then numerous bloggers have run with it. All the descendants are very near her original—and all share its amazing rich simplicity.
And the addictiveness. You may want to strategize about this one. What Marcy warns about her version is true for all of them: “Make a box for yourself before Passover and one box to serve at your seders.” You could also make a bunch and bring it in to your office, where it will last about 3-1/2 minutes.
If, like us, you are planning a nontraditional seder, for a blended family or a boundless social group, this is an honorable dessert.
Serves 8 to 10
5 or 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips [or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate]
3/4 cup white chocolate chips [or 1-1/2 cups of one of these chocolates]
1 cup toasted sliced nuts [see Kitchen Notes]
Other toppings [see Kitchen Notes]
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Completely line a rimmed baking sheet [approximately 11” x 17"] with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Put a sheet of parchment paper on top of the foil.
Line the baking sheet with matzoh. You’ll need to cut up some of the pieces to complete the job. Interestingly, although every sheet of matzoh comes perforated, the perforations never, ever help you break the cracker in any remotely linear way. I recommend cutting up the matzoh by laying each board on a smooth, flat surface, taking a serrated bread knife and pressing down with its blade between, not along, the lines of perforations. [Insert heavy sigh here.]
In a 2- or 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, over moderate heat, until the butter is completely melted, everything is mixed together, and the mixture is beginning to boil. Stir the mixture constantly, as it simmers, for three minutes. Turn off the heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and the vanilla, stir well, and right away pour it over the matzoh. Use a spatula to spread it around evenly.
Put the pan in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on it! It is going to get all bubbly and seething looking. That’s okay. But watch the edges carefully. If they start to darken, take the pan out of the oven for a minute, then return it. You want to bake for about 10 to 12 minutes altogether.
Remove the pan from the oven, turn off the oven, and set the pan on the stove top or counter. Drop the semisweet chocolate chips over half the surface and the white chocolate chips over the other half. Slide the pan back into the warm oven for a minute. Take it out, then using a spatula, spread the melty chocolate chips evenly over the caramel. [Use a different spatula for the white chocolate chips.] Once everything is nice and spread around, immediately scatter the chopped nuts and the remaining tablespoon of sea salt over the entire surface. Then add any other flavorings you may want to use.
Set the baking sheet on a rack and let it cool completely. When the toppings are fairly set, it will help to remove the matzohs carefully from the pan and let them dry on racks.
Once the sheets are completely cool and set, break into pieces. To get perfect linear strips, use a serrated bread knife. Or just break and crack them into strips and chunks. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
We will be serving this stacked on serving plates. Another handsome presentation, when you succeed in cutting this into long strips, is to stand the pieces vertically in glass tumblers.
Theoretically it keeps well for a week. We are unable to confirm this statement.
Is it kosher? If you are worried whether this is a kosher for Passover dessert, please note: This recipe will be kosher for Passover if you use not just kosher products, but ingredients that are specifically kosher for Passover, and if your utensils are also specifically for that purpose. And, since this contains butter, lots of butter, the meal preceding it will have to be meatless. [Or you can use kosher margarine, to which I say eeeewwwwwwwwwwww.]
What about the chocolate? Almost every version of this recipe out there calls for semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, or, sometimes, semisweet bakers chocolate. I looked and looked for bittersweet chocolate chips and failed to find any, but during the hunt ran across white chocolate chips, a real ah ha! moment. White chocolate on this is really, really, really good.
What about the toppings? The sea salt is essential. Many versions of this use rafts of toasted sliced almonds, which make an extremely beautiful presentation. Some people like crushed peppermint, although I don’t cotton to that for this recipe. A scattering of toasted sesame seeds, coarsely ground black pepper, vanilla sugar and toasted pecans also work well.
The versions you see in Terry’s photos uses toasted, chopped hazelnuts. The white chocolate version also includes spicy rose sugar, a product we purchased from eSutras Organics, a Chicago company that focuses entirely on organic herbs, teas, spices and health and beauty products. Read more about this very nice company and its spicy rose sugar at the eSutras Organics website. The spice and rose flavor is very subtle—what comes through is the clean flavor of the cane sugar. Also, this sugar is quite pretty—you can see the pink bits of dried rose petals in the photo.
Why is matzoh perforated, anyway? The most essential tradition of Passover is to eat no bread that is leavened. Matzoh is perforated to prevent any inadvertent rising that may occur during the baking. The baker’s tool for perforating matzoh, by the way, is called a reidel.