Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You. Must. Make. This.

Tonight we had our annual passover dinner, my friend Boston and I.  I feel the need to explain to my newer readers that I'm not Jewish, but I grew up in a community where I have a lot of Jewish friends, and I have many family members who are Jewish via conversion and marriage.  So, every year, we get together for Passover.  Boston makes traditional Jewish Passover foods, and I embrace the challenge of cooking dinner without using anything leavened.  Or any kind of legume.

This year, my old roommate Sam came along as well, and we had a lovely unleavened meal together, although not a traditional seder, as I did not clear a chair for Elijah or hide any matzoh.  I learned the hard way today that downtown Baltimore is a hard place to find matzoh or kosher for Passover chocolate chips.  Fortunately, Sister Barefoot (one of the aforementioned family members married to a Jewish person) had recently stocked up on matzoh, and Boston said that the regular chocolate chips would be okay, so I just used semisweet store brand.

I used this recipe, but reduced the amount of butter and sugar by a little bit.  I would say that I used 4.5 sheets of  matzoh (unsalted), 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons butter, and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  I did not use the vanilla, since my vanilla was kosher but not for passover.  I'm going to repost the recipe here, which is the creation of David Liebovitz, for posterity.

Because if I lose this recipe, my life will become sad and empty.

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) 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. 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. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.  Allow to cool (preferably in the fridge) and then crack matzoh into pieces by essentially folding the parchment paper into sections to break off pieces.  

Salted caramel is really in lately - sea salt & caramel brownies, etc. are popular in cities that are not slow to food trends, so this is a great recipe to use to impress your friends. (Baltimore now has cupcakes, and we're starting to get fro-yo.  Sadly, not near me.)

What is neat about this recipe is that you actually make caramel. I've been terrified of making caramel for a long time now, but it turns out that, like fudge, or salad dressing, it's pretty easy to do.  The biggest tip I can give you is that if you turn the back burner on, but then move the pot to the front burner, don't wonder why the brown sugar and butter aren't properly melting.  It's because you took the pot off the heat.

So everybody is going to head to their nearest grocery store, grab a box of matzoh, and make this tonight, right?  Don't wait until next year!  I think I'm bringing this to Easter even.  I may actually grab a box of matzoh to keep until Christmas, because my mother in law makes this with saltines, but I think the matzoh gives the brittle a bit more heft.

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