Category Archives: candy

Matzo-a-must Passover treats

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Happy Passover! This is what greeted me at my kitchen table this morning: chocolate and caramel matzo crackers perfectly set and waiting to be cut into little squares of Passover goodness to share with friends.

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If a love of the perfectly thin, delightful crunch of that canvas of a cracker – the matzo (or matzah or matzoh) – mattered a crumb in determining Jewishness, I’d be hosting the Seder right now. Alas, I am not and continue – on occasion – to be the gracious non Jew Passover guest, soaking up the message, community – and food – of it all.

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This year, inspired by a note in the March 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I decided that I simply must make little candy boxes of matzo treats, covered in chocolate and honey and tidbits of various fruit and nut delights.

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I was able to pick up the unsalted pistachios and the candied ginger (as called for in the Martha Stewart recipe) at my local Trader Joe’s. While there, I spied roasted coconut chips, freeze dried raspberries and banana chips. Funny, how almost everything pairs well with chocolate!

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To balance out the chocolate, I also covered some of these matzo treats in my signature caramel. This is a somewhat time consuming, but virtually “no-fail” recipe. The key for the consistency required here is reaching that magical 250 degrees F while stirring and heating and stirring the caramel some more….

Clockwise from top left:  Pistachio-Salt; Candied Ginger-Fresh Orange Zest; Salted Caramel

Clockwise from top left: Pistachio-Salt; Candied Ginger-Fresh Orange Zest; Salted Caramel

Finally, no cracker treat could be complete without a generous sprinkling of finishing salt. My “salt snowflake” of choice is Maldon, first introduced to me by a dear friend – Amy – my fellow food obsessed buddy.

Clockwise from top:  Dried Raspberry; Banana Chip; Coconut Chip

Clockwise from top: Dried Raspberry; Banana Chip; Coconut Chip

After everything was spread, poured and sprinkled on, I let things set over night and then cut and packaged everything in half pound candy boxes. For the final touch, I tied the boxes with ribbon in creams and muted spring colors. I’ve really come to believe, in my baking and blog life, that one really can’t underestimate the power of ribbon to elevate one’s day. Happy Passover, everyone!

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Chocolate Covered Matzo

1/2 lb. or 16 oz. of Kosher Matzos (1/2 a box)
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate squares, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
Unsalted dried fruits and nuts, chopped (I also used finely grated fresh orange zest)
Maldon finishing salt

1.  Set out matzo crackers on rimmed cookie sheets or parchment paper.

2.  Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (medium low). Stir occasionally until all the chocolate is melted.  Be careful not to allow any water to get in the chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the honey and stir until the honey is incorporated and the chocolate is completely smooth. Off heat.

3.  Using a small spatula, spread the chocolate onto the matzo crackers. Quickly add the dried nuts/fruits/salt. Press gently on nuts/fruit to ensure that they stick in the chocolate.

4.  The chocolate will be a bit soft and will take some time to set.  Allow the chocolate to set for a couple hours before cutting.

Caramel Covered Matzo

1/2 lb. or 16 oz. of Kosher Matzos (1/2 a box)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
Maldon finishing salt

1.  Remove paper wrapper from can of sweetened condensed milk. Place unopened can in a pot of water, making sure to cover the can with water. Bring water to boil on a burner set to high. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer the can in the water for 2 hours. Make sure the can is covered by water at all times.

2.  While the milk simmers, generously grease 3 large rimmed cookie sheets with butter. Place two matzos on each pan.

3.  After two hours, off heat and remove the can from the pot of water. The contents are under pressure, so open the can carefully with a can opener, preferably in the kitchen sink, because a bit of cooked milk will squirt out. The milk should be a light caramel color.

4.  Pour the cooked milk in a heavy pot. Add the butter, sugar and corn syrup, and mix with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Have an instant read or candy thermometer handy, and place the pot on a burner set to medium.

5.  Stir the mixture continuously, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pot, for approximately 30 minutes, until the temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit (but not less).

6.  When the mixture reaches 250 degrees, immediately remove the pot from the heat and evenly pour the caramel over the matzos in the prepared pans.

7.  Wait a few hours or overnight to allow the caramel to set.  Using a chef’s knife or other heavy knife, cut the caramel into strips and then into squares.  To reduce knife stickiness, periodically spray it with cooking spray.

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Caramel bar

Maybe it was the talk of matzoh crackers dipped in chocolate at a children’s Passover Seder I attended recently – along with this picture from Crustabakes, perfectly depicting the yummy phenomenon that occurs when hot caramel (or toffee, in Crustabake’s case) oozes through the crags and air holes in crackers – that caused me to belly up to the caramel bar.


First, I made sure the bar was well stocked.

Also, there was salt.  Lots of flaky finishing salt.  Sprinkled generously like fairy dust first over the mounds of crackers, chocolate, popcorn and candy coated sunflower seeds.

Then a second time, over the freshly poured caramel.  It can just be assumed that when I say caramel, I mean salted caramel.

This a chewy and substantial caramel.  The recipe requires some time but is relatively easy.

After pouring, I let the pan sit overnight before cutting the candy into pieces.  I think a few hours will do the trick, especially because the caramel is so darn hard to resist!

The first time I tried this, I embedded the crackers in the caramel and then spread melted semi-sweet chocolate on top while the caramel was still warm.  The two were like oil and water and did not stick to each other.  I also thought the chocolate was a bit dominating.  The next couple rounds, I sprinkled a few chocolate chips among the crackers.

The hot caramel oozed over them like a lava flow and “fossilized” everything in its path to satisfying effect.  I was pleased with the chocolate, crunch and salt balance overall.  Sort of like that perfect drink.  Sort of (but better).

[ PRINTABLE RECIPE ]

Gorgeous Chewy Caramel

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick (1/2 c.) salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups light corn syrup

1.  Remove paper wrapper from can of sweetened condensed milk.  Place unopened can in a pot of water, making sure to cover the can with water.  Bring water to boil on a burner set to high.  Turn the heat down to medium and simmer the can in the water for 2 hours.  Make sure the can is covered by water at all times.

2.  While the milk simmers, generously grease a large rimmed cookie sheet with butter.  If using crackers, popcorn, chocolate or other treats, arrange them on the pan.  I would advise using a few chocolate chips because the caramel does not adhere well to a “sheet” of chocolate.

3.  After two hours, off heat and remove the can from the pot of water.  The contents are under pressure, so open the can carefully with a can opener, preferably in the kitchen sink, because a bit of cooked milk will squirt out.  The milk should be a light caramel color.

4.  Pour the cooked milk in a heavy pot.  Add the butter, sugar and corn syrup, and mix with a wooden or silicone spoon.  Have an instant read or candy thermometer handy, and place the pot on a burner set to medium.

5.  Stir the mixture continuously, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pot, for approximately 30 minutes, until the temperature reaches a whopping 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

6.  When the mixture reaches 250 degrees, immediately remove the pot from the heat and pour the caramel into the buttered pan.

7.  Wait a few hours or overnight to allow the caramel to set.  Using a chef’s knife or other heavy knife, cut the caramel into strips and then into desired shapes.

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