This week in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge I am scheduled to bake Stollen. However, it’s Passover this week and I’m not eating bread. So in honour of this holiday I offer my favourite Passover treat, “Marble Matzoh Crunch.” The original recipe comes from Montreal baker extraordinaire Marcy Goldman. Her cookbook “Better Baking.com“ is one of my go to standards.
For those unfamiliar with matzoh, it is a cracker-like unleavened bread made of white plain flour and water. The dough is pricked in several places and not allowed to rise before or during baking, thereby producing a hard, flat bread. Matzoh is the substitute for bread during Passover, when bread and other leavened products are not permitted. There are two major explanations for eating matzoh. One is historic and the other is symbolic.
Historically, Passover is a commemoration of the exodus of the Jewish people from a life of slavery in Egypt. The Israelites left Egypt in such a hurry, they could not wait for their bread dough to rise. The resulting product was matzoh. The other reason for eating matoh is symbolic. On the one hand, matzoh symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also known as poor man’s bread. So it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like as slaves of the Egyptians. Also, leavening of the bread symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven “puffs up”. Eating the “bread of affliction” is both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances one’s appreciation of freedom.
All that history and symbolism for a little cracker! There are those that compare eating matzoh to cardboard. I wholeheartedly disagree. I love Matzoh. Perhaps it’s because the rest of the year, for health reasons, I spread butter and jam so thinly on my toast I can barely taste it. However at Passover I spread both butter and jam on with reckless abandon. Passover is my excuse to consume butter and jam and matzoh is the perfect vehicle for allowing me to do it.
Marcy Goldman’s Matzoh Crunch is guaranteed to convert any matzoh hater into a matzoh worshipper. You don’t even need to be Jewish to love this treat.
6 slices matzoh
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or kosher for Passover margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 generous cups finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)
1 1/2 cups white chocolate, finely chopped (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Cover an 18 x 13 inch rimmed cookie sheet with foil and then cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Do not leave this step out or you will be cursing me when it comes time to cleanup! Cover the parchment paper evenly with the matzoh. You will have to trim some of the matzoh with a sharp knife to make it fit into a flat even layer. You will have some matzoh scraps left over. Slather with butter and jam and eat.
2. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, add brown sugar and butter or margarine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture comes to a boil. This will take about 2-4 minutes. At one point it will look like the butter is separating from the sugar and it will appear to be an oily mess. Just keep stirring, it will come together again. Once mixture comes to a boil, keep stirring for about another 3 minutes. Carefully pour caramel onto matzoh. Using a metal spatula, spread it out into an even layer.
3. Place baking sheet into oven and bake for about 12 minutes until the caramel topping is golden brown and bubbling.
4. While caramel is baking chop white chocolate into small pieces. Place in glass measuring cup and microwave on medium power for 2 minutes. When you remove chocolate from microwave, it will look like the chocolate is not finished melting. Take a clean dry spoon and stir white chocolate. It will continue to melt as you stir. Pour melted white chocolate into a disposable plastic piping bag. The easiest way to do this, if you are alone, is to place the piping bag in a large glass or pitcher and fold down the top. Pour in white chocolate and let sit until you are ready to use it.
5. Remove caramel covered matzoh from oven after about 12 minutes when it is golden brown and bubbly. Place pan on a wire cooling rack on the counter. Immediately sprinkle caramel matzoh with chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips.
6. Wait for a few minutes until chocolate has a chance to soften. Then, using a metal spatula, spread chocolate into an even layer.
7. Now comes the fun part! Making a marble design with the white chocolate. Twist the top of the piping bag closed and using a sharp scissors, cut a small tip off the end of the bag. Starting in one corner of the pan, pipe white chocolate in a zig zag pattern. Then starting in the opposite corner, pipe a zig zag pattern in the opposite direction. Using the sharp tip of a wooden skewer, drag it through the wet white and dark chocolate making a nice design. You can either drag skewer in a circular pattern or go in straight lines. Below is a video of me demonstrating the process:
8. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with sea salt. Chill pan for several hours until chocolate is firm. Peel off foil and parchment paper and place marble matzoh crunch on a large cutting board. Using a very large sharp knife, cut matzoh into large squares. For an 18 x 13 inch pan, I usually get about 18 pieces. Store matzoh crunch in an airtight container in the fridge. It keeps well for about 5 days. (That is as long as no one else in the house knows it’s there!)
For an equally delicious variation, instead of marbling with white chocolate, sprinkle dark chocolate with toasted chopped unblanched almonds (about 1 1/2 cups). Or try milk chocolate and almonds, or dark chocolate and dried cherries, or white chocolate and chopped pistachios or macadamia nuts. The possibilities are endless. Have fun!