Passover (or Pesach) is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the spring which commemorates the ancient Israelites' Exodus from Egypt. During the week-long holiday, only unleavened bread (matzo) is eaten and all chametz (bread or other food made with leavened grain) must be avoided.
Chemically speaking, all breads, cakes, etc. in which leavening agents are used are foams that go through an autolyse step (either being allowed to rise before baking, or puffing up in the oven while baking) and solidify with the application of heat and hold their structure. Made without using yeast, baking soda, or other substances that would cause a foaming reaction and cause the dough to puff up, matzo dough is mixed quickly and rolled out without being given time to rise (the autolyse step commonly associated with making bread is skipped).
The thin, crispy matzo cracker, as well as matzo meal (ground matzo), have loads of applications during Passover and the rest of the year too. Matzo Toffee (also sometimes called Matzo Brittle or Matzo Brickle) is an amazing combination of toffee, chocolate, and nuts that's just so amazing (yet simple) that you'll likely end up making it year-round.
Step 1: You'll Need. . .
- 6 sheets of matzo
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
- About a cup of chopped nuts (I prefer pecans or almonds)
- About a teaspoon of Kosher or seasalt
- Baking sheet lined with foil
- Medium sauce pot
- Rubber spatula
Step 2: A Solid Foundation
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Line the baking pan with foil and place the matzo in the bottom in an even layer
- Melt the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown slightly and smell nutty1
- Add the brown sugar and mix well
- Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to foam up and boil2
- Continue stirring for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the matzo
- Spread the mixture toward the edges of the pan and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes
1When butter is melted, the butterfat and milk solids begin to separate and the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan. As the butter continues to heat, the milk solids will brown, resulting in a light brown color and slightly nutty taste.
2 As the butter and brown sugar mixture combine over heat, water is removed from the mixture through evaporation. This leads to the caramelization of the sugar, followed by isomerization (one molecule is transformed into another with the same atoms but a different organization) and polymerisation (the formation of three-dimensional polymer chains).The foaming seen as the toffee mixture begins to boil is actually the process of the sucrose breaking down into glucose and fructose.
Step 3: Top It Off
- Remove the pan from the oven and cover the bubbly toffee mixture with a sprinkling of chocolate chips1
- Allow them to sit for a minute or so, then use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly
- Sprinkle with salt and nuts and place in the refrigerator to cool for about 30 minutes2
- Cut or break apart and enjoy!
1 As the chocolate melts when it comes in contact with the hot toffee, it changes state from a solid to a liquid, but its molecules are not affected.
2The sodium chloride present in salt is very good at inhibiting bitterness, so the addition of salt enhances the sweetness of the Matzo Toffee by reducing any bitterness that might be present in the toffee portion or the nuts.