Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Last flirt with matzah - caramel chocolate crunch

I was lucky enough to have two great-grandmothers alive until I was well into my teens. One lived in Australia, and sadly I never met her. The other, however, lived in London, and we saw her often. We, and all of the numerous cousins and second cousins, called her 'Putzi', because she called us 'putzelah' - a German diminutive. I have many memories of visiting her in her flat, and also of her presiding, matriarch-like, over family gatherings. She often used to come and stay at (now Israel, then London) Grandma's house for Passover, and when I saw Munchkin Granny at our seder night this year, we were reminiscing about a treat she used to make every year.

Unfortunately, neither of us could remember too much about it, or what she called it. It consisted of matzah (inevitably) spread with cinnamon and ground almonds. We both felt that there was something else involved which made it spreadable, and although I remember her making the mix sitting at the dining table, I have a feeling that it involved having the cinnamon mixture baked on to the matzah. With nothing more to go on, and no more ground almonds left after the cinnamon balls, I couldn't go too much further in recreating Putzi's Passover treat.

I did, however, find a chocolatey treat which seemed to be similar in spirit. It's a sugar and butter topping for matzah sheets, which becomes caramelised in the oven. It's then covered in chocolate and nuts, and chilled. Putzi's version was much nicer scented and didn't contain chocolate, but the smell of the buttery baking matzah did evoke a little of her. If I'd had the ingredients I would have tried another batch with cinnamon and ground almonds mixed into the butter, and with no chocolate. As it was, the choco-covered version was a very nice treat, and much better than the commercially produced stuff. I think that's it for the Passover baking now - we have two sheets of matzah left, but I think I will let The Scientist dispatch it in his own inimitable way - ie as a post-work snack with cheese. And so the year moves on.

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch (adapted from here)

2 sheets of matzah
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar
pinch of sea salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional) [I used desiccated coconut although I couldn't face the 'we're fine, we're fine, no we're burnt to cinders saga, so didn't toast it. It would probably increase the flavour if you did though]

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet 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. Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a pan, 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 vanilla, and pour over matzah, spreading with a heatproof spatula.

4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and reduce the heat if it's beginning to burn.

5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with a spatula.

6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted nuts and/or a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

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.


Johanna said...

you are lucky to have known two great-grandmothers - I vaguely remember one! And food really is a nice connection to our family's past

Love this recipe! I was wondering it is possible on other biscuits like marie biscuits (your rich tea biscuits) because I just don't have any matzah

Lysy said...

I'm sure that any type of cracker would work, and why not give it a try with a biscuit! You might want to reduce the sugar if it's a sweet biscuit, and the thinner the biscuit the more crunch you'll probably get, but who's to say that a thicker biscuit wouldn't just get a different sort of treat?! Do let me know if you make any good discoveries!

LisaRene said...

Lovely sentiment! So nice that you tried to recreate a special treat from your past. I imagine they would be taste as a snack with a nice cup of tea :)

I was just viewing a Master Baker roundup and thought of you. I had mentioned this roundup to you when you made your easter candy cookies, as the them for March was Easter Candy. I thought you would enjoy viewing the roundup to see all the successes and failures and just plain overly sweet and stick baked goods :) One blogger even made homemade Cadbury Cream Eggs!

Lysy said...

They are a very good tea-time treat!

I did see the Easter Candy roundup and was very impressed with some people's ingenuity. I hadn't entered as I felt it was a bit of a cheat just to put a creme egg in a cookie mix. If I'd made the eggs myself now, that would be a different story!

Katie said...

Wasn't it egg? I seem to remember making it with Grandma. you beat the egg then mix in the cinnamon and almonds then spread it on and bake? Very vague memory but it popped into my head when I read the entry