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PASSOVER BAKING

Chocolate-caramel matzo crunch

(suzanne kreiter/globe staff)
By Lise Stern
Globe Correspondent / April 8, 2009

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Serves 12

Now in its 10th year, the dessert restaurant Finale never had a line of desserts created specifically for Passover. It would get requests each year for flourless options and the only one was a dark chocolate decadence cake. Eventually the chain had enough requests, says executive pastry chef Nicole Coady, that it was time to expand the menu. Passover begins this evening with the first Seder. Coady, who hails from a small town in West Virginia, says, "I never knew anything at all about Passover." She turned to her colleague and friend Judy Rosenberg, owner of Rosie's Bakery, for consultation. (While the desserts are not technically kosher for Passover, they are kosher-style, that is, they contain no flour or other forbidden ingredients.) With Rosenberg's help, Coady developed a range of offerings, from blueberry cheesecake with a matzo crumb crust to snacks like chocolate-dipped almond macaroons and chocolate-caramel matzo crunch. A version appeared in Rosenberg's 1996 cookbook, "Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed Jam-Filled Butter-Rich No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book." Since then, she changed the ratio of butter to sugar, and altered a few techniques. She also switched from semisweet to bittersweet chocolate. Says the baker: "Because of the sweetness of the caramel, I feel the contrast with bittersweet is more interesting, more intense."

1cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1 1/2cups light brown sugar
4to 5 boards plain matzo
6ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the butter and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts. Turn up the heat and let the mixture come to a boil. Simmer for 4 minutes or until it turns a deep caramel color.

3. Immediately, pour half the caramel mixture evenly onto the baking sheet. Use a heatproof spatula to spread it. Working quickly, top with the matzo, breaking the pieces if necessary to fill the spaces. Pour the remaining caramel mixture on top, and spread it evenly with a spatula.

4. Bake the matzo for 11 to 13 minutes or until it is a deep golden color. The surface will be bubbling.

5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn off oven. Let it set for 1 to 2 minutes or until the surface is no longer bubbling.

6. Sprinkle the chocolate over the matzo; let it stand for 3 minutes or until it starts to melt. If it doesn't melt, place the baking sheet in the turned-off oven for 1 minute. Use a knife or spatula to spread the chocolate over the surface of the matzo. Set it aside at room temperature to cool for several hours or until firm.

7. Break the matzo into pieces. Store in a container at room temperature for several days, or in the freezer for several months. Adapted from Judy Rosenberg