As somewhat of a pastry aficionado, planning the dessert portion of a meal is how I get my jollies. There is seldom a dish repeated, mostly because I like using our dinner guests as guinea pigs for testing new creations. And there have yet to be any complaints from the peanut gallery, thankfully.
But this time I’m stumped.
This year, we are hosting the Seder meal for Passover. My first, both hosting and attending. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to start planning a meal for 13 guests. Oodles of research was done to perfectly meld tradition with our own twists. The appetizers, entrees and sides were quickly set. Which left the best for last, dessert.
As I am a newbie when it comes to kosher regulations, there were quite a few missteps. And thus my plans were thwarted.
During Passover, leavening is prohibited. That means no bread, no yeast, no baking powder or soda. Okay, I think I can work with that. How about a nice cheesecake? There is no leavening, we’ll use crushed almonds for the crust. Perfection! Nope, FAIL.
According to Jewish law, you cannot eat meat and dairy during the same meal, ever. Most wait 3 to 6 hours after eating meat to consume any kind of dairy. So the cheesecake was a bust. How about a flourless chocolate cake? Nope, can’t use butter. NO BUTTER!?!?! Resume banging head against wall.
So my options were:
- Create a dessert that contained no butter, cream, milk, or leavening of any kind i.e. bowl of fruit (Bor-ing)
- Have a 7 hour Seder
- Prepare buttery treats for the guests to take home
Oy vey. I’m going with the latter. Sweet, salty, crunchy Toffee Chocolate Hazelnut Matzo. Matzo soaks up hot toffee, then is coated with dark chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and a sprinkle of cardamom. Bingo. Now I have something to do with the 6 lbs of matzo sitting in my kitchen.
Toffee Chocolate Hazelnut Matzo Recipe
3/4 c (100g) hazelnuts
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 c (190g) light brown sugar, packed
1 c (230g) unsalted butter
4-ish squares of unsalted matzo crackers
1 1/8c (150g) dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 375F. Toast hazelnuts for 10m. Keep an eye so they don’t burn. Remove from oven and let cool. If you happened to get hazelnuts with skins, once cool, rub the skins off and discard. Using a knife or food processor, chop the hazelnuts to form a very coarse meal. Add salt and cardamom, and set aside.
Heat the sugar and butter together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Prepare a sheet pan with a layer of foil, then a layer of parchment on top as the mix will be sticky. Lay the matzo in one layer on top of the parchment. It is okay to break the pieces up to cover the whole pan.
Once the sugar and butter begin to boil, let boil for 3m stirring constantly. Be sure that the sugar and butter are homogenous, i.e. no butter floating on top. Pour the ‘toffee’ on top of the matzo and spread to cover. Place in oven and reduce heat to 350F. Bake for 15m, checking every few minutes to ensure it is not browning too quickly.
Remove from oven and top with chopped chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for 3 to 5m. Spread the chocolate evenly across the toffee. Sprinkle an even layer of the hazelnut mixture on top. While still warm, cut into desired shapes. Chill in fridge to set chocolate. Voila!
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