Here is another guest post from Naomi. I first met Naomi back in high school. We both worked as crew for a theater production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. As the production was in an open amphitheater, that only had trees at the edge of the stage, we spent all production ducking in and out of the forest. Welcome back Naomi!
When one of my guests arrived at my home for the Passover Seder, the first thing she asked me was if I had made the Matzo Toffee Cookies. This was quite a compliment given it was coming from one of the best bakers I know. The truth is the recipe is quite simple. The outcome is heavenly. Homemade toffee and melted chocolate atop a thin piece of crunchy matzo.
Several years ago I was really excited when kosher food companies started producing more and more prepared items for Passover. One bite, however, confirmed for me that looks can be deceiving and there is nothing like home cooked food. And the elegantly wrapped chocolate matzo is the worst – the chocolate flakes off of the plain sheet of matzo.
I have only made Matzo Toffee Cookies for Passover. It fits in with the tastes that I expect and crave during the holiday, that seem like they would be out-of-place during the rest of the year. I consider this especially true of the quintessential Passover food, matzo, the flat bread eaten to symbolize the Biblical Israelites leaving slavery in such a hurry they didn’t have time for their bread to rise. My girls, however, like to eat matzo year round, especially with cream cheese and avocado slices. I like to save (and savor) it for the holiday. Like so much of the symbolic eating during Passover, it combined tastes – here bland and sweet and bitter (with dark chocolate), and the textures of the crunchy cracker and the soft stretchy toffee.
I was especially surprised to learn that I was in the minority for keeping my matzo for the eight day holiday. The matzo industry has a large market year-round both within and beyond the Jewish community.
Since this is a post for Pat’s blog out of OH, I thought I would throw in the fun fact that I recently learned: the first commercial matzo was made at the Manishewitz factory in Cincinnati, OH in 1888. Interestingly, the company built a second location in 1932 in Jersey City, NJ, right near where I live!
Matzo Toffee Cookies
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 4 sheets of Matzo
- 12 oz. Chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk)
1. Grease a baking pan. Some people recommend lining it with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges and covering the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with as many sheets of matzo as will fit, 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. This is one of the few times when I feel a sense of awe while cooking. It’s like a basic chemistry experiment in which two elements combine. I’m always amazed when the butter and sugar merge.
Pour the hot toffee over matzo, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. I recently under-baked a batch. It was still yummy. However, the toffee stuck to the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
6. Chocolate critique extraordinaire, David Lebovitz, offers the following variations:
- Adding 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (added to the toffee after boiled)
- Adding a big pinch of sea salt (added to the toffee after boiled)
- Adding chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate) after the other chocolate has melted
- Adding 1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds
- If you can’t get matzo, use plain crackers such as saltines instead and omit the additional salt in the recipe.
- For Passover or vegans, using margarine.
- Using any gluten-free cracker.
7. Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store refrigerated until ready to serve. Enjoy!