In 8th grade, I moved to a new city and was enrolled in a fancy private school. I was shy, awkward, and trying to figure out how I was going to fit in. Day one found me in my burgundy blazer, gray flannel skirt and knee socks, cowering in the girls' bathroom. That first day I was rescued by a classmate who took me under her wing. With her big blue eyes and a head capped with blond curls, my new best friend, Lynnie, looked like an angel, but was full of the devil. That year, and for many to come, we found countless ways to get into trouble.
Lynnie was my first Jewish friend. Though her family wasn't particularly observant, they introduced me to magical new foods. It was a year of firsts for me. My first pastrami sandwich, my first sip (and then some) of Manischewitz wine, and, yes, my first encounter with matzo. We smeared it with thin layers of chopped liver on Friday nights and crumbled it into eggs for a breakfast of matzo brie. And on rainy Saturdays, Lynnie's mother would melt chocolate chips and let us dip pieces of matzo into the melted, molten depths. Sometimes we squeezed mini-marshmallows in between the chocolaty layers, making impromptu matzo s'mores.
Last week, Foodista sent out an email blast with recipes for Passover. In it was a dessert recipe for Caramel Matzo Crunch, a treat that instantly brought me back to 8th grade. I decided to recreate a bit of my past and see if I could improve on it. After all, my own multi-culti family has Jewish roots and our Passover celebrations are some of our happiest memories. I am always on the lookout for new foods for the holiday.
To make these Matzo Dreams, I started with Yehuda Matzos, my favorite brand, imported from Jerusalem.
I placed a layer of matzos on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a sauce pan over medium heat, I melted a firmly packed cup of brown sugar and a cup of Cabot Salted Butter, stirring until the sugar was completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
I poured the caramel sauce over the matzos, spreading it evenly. The caramel-covered matzo went into a 375º oven, cooking for about 8 minutes, until bubbly. I watched it carefully, making sure it didn't burn.
Next, I spread 6 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the hot caramel. On a whim, I put a few mini-marshmallows on one corner of the baking sheet. The heat from the caramel melted the chocolate chips and softened the marshmallows. I spread the chocolate evenly over the caramel covered matzos.
After the chocolate was spread, I refrigerated the matzo on the baking sheet for about a half hour, then broke up the sheets of matzo into small pieces.
In addition to the marshmallows, my twist on this recipe was a sprinkling of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. The combination of rich chocolate, sweet caramel and delicate flakes of salt covering the crispy matzo is a dessert that is, at once, simple and sophisticated - a happy memory punctuated with a hint of salt.
Covered in caramel and chocolate, dotted with marshmallows, and kissed with flakes of sea salt, these Matzo Dreams are the perfect end to a Passover...or Easter...feast.