It's not Passover yet, and it won't be for about a week. But while Passover gives us an reason to make this candy-like dessert, really there's no need to wait.
Matzo (or matzoh or matzah), the Jewish unleavened cracker-like bread, is the perfect crunchy, flaky base for a thin coating of buttery caramel and melted chocolate, along with whatever toppings your heart desires. Crispy, flaky matzo covered with brown sugar caramel and bittersweet chocolate — this stuff is so addictive you won't want to wait for Passover.
A friend of mine prefers to call this "chocolate with an excuse," but I say untrue! The matzo itself is the star, with its shattering crisp and flaky texture. The toppings don't hurt, either; in different batches I've topped mine with chopped pistachios, crystalized ginger, or a swirl of peanut butter and chocolate chips, while others got just a light sprinkling of sea salt. My favorite was the ginger, but you should feel free to experiment. You can even leave off the chocolate all together for just a caramelized matzo.
This recipe is based on one from Marcy Goldman of Betterbaking.com, and it's relatively easy. You have to watch the caramel so it doesn't burn (and so it doesn't burn you!), but the recipe only has a few steps and can be put together in about 20 minutes plus cooling time. There's no special equipment, and no watching thermometers. Just make and eat. Any time you like — Passover or no.
Recipe Tester's Notes
Every year, a couple of weeks before Passover, I come across a dozen Matzo Toffee Cracker type recipes. I continuously decide to pass them up, thinking it will be an ordeal and that the process will include dirtying all my pots and bowls. This week, I finally gave in and decided to test out this recipe from The Kitchn. In just a few simple, quick steps, and with just one sticky saucepan later, the recipe came together effortlessly. I went for the classic toffee, chocolate and pecan pairing, and loved them!
If you're a Seder guest this year or hosting 30 of your nearest and dearest, this decadent and oh-so-simple dessert takes next to nothing to prepare — and your crowd will certainly be impressed and satisfied.
Consider yourself warned though, this stuff is dangerously addicting! Get ready to indulge in your new favorite Passover treat.
4 to 5 matzo pieces (See Recipe Notes)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Toppings, like chopped nuts, candied ginger, sea salt, peanut butter chips, and chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place the matzo in one layer on the baking sheet, breaking it when necessary to fill the pan completely.
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for an additional three minutes, still stirring, until thickened and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and pour over the matzo, spreading an even layer with a heat-proof spatula.
Put the pan in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 350°F. Bake for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't burn. If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn heat down to 325°F. (While it is cooking, resist all urges to scrape the pan with extra pieces of matzo. You will burn yourself. Trust me.)
After 15 minutes, the toffee should have bubbled up and turned a rich golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the pan. Let sit for five minutes, then spread the now-melted chocolate evenly over the caramel with a spatula.
You can leave it just as is, enjoying the simplicity, or sprinkle the brittle with toppings while the chocolate is still melted.
Let the brittle cool completely, then break it into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container. Rumor has it that this will last a week stored properly, but well, I've never had it last long enough to test out the theory.
When it's not Passover, you can use unsalted saltine crackers instead of matzo, but I prefer the flavor and texture of matzo.
During Passover, avoid toppings of peanuts, as many Ashkenazi Jews abstain from legumes during Passover. You can substitute margarine for the butter to make it parve or vegan. Be aware that some Jews won't eat foods made in a non-kashered kitchen, or those made with non Kosher-for-Passover ingredients.
This recipe has been updated. Originally published April 9, 2008.