I can’t stop munching on this caramel matzo

A Great little recipe has the smallest ingredient list possible and big on everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or less — not including water, salt, black pepper, and some fats (like oil and butter), because we’re assuming you’ve covered them. Inspired by the column, the Big little recipes recipe book is available now.


Decades after I started making it, my mom can’t remember where this recipe came from. Maybe she got it from her mother, or from a magazine, or her mother got it from a magazine. Who knows?

There are thousands and thousands of caramel matzo recipes online. Many of them are very similar to ours, from the ingredient list to the instructions short enough to fit on a card. Even the details I don’t understand.

Take, for example, “4-6 matzo – unsalted”. Why the range? When is four? When five? When six? Who knows?

Many recipes just call for this, “4-6”, with no explanation. It’s proof that this crunchy Passover favorite comes from the same publication, only claimed by countless American Jews, like my mom, like me. The same goes with holiday recipes and traditions. They belong to us, but only in a way.

From the timing and similarities to my mother’s chart, it’s safe to say that Marcy Goldman’s recipe, first published in the mid-1980s in The Montreal Gazette (and later printed in “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking”), was the source. As Leah Koenig writes in Tablet, “Goldman’s buttercrunch matzo is one of the most popular and copied Passover desserts prepared by home cooks.”

I could have typed in my mom’s sheet and called it Big Little Recipe and it’s done. All you need is matzo, of course, and brown sugar, butter, and chocolate (plus toasted pecans if you’re my mom). But I couldn’t help it.

I changed the unsalted matzo to salted, the unsalted butter to salted, and yes, a pinch of flaky salt on top too. Caramel is too sweet for its own good. Salt provides balance, like a child on a swing joined by another. Same reason I also switched from semi-sweet chocolate to dark chocolate – the darker the better.

It’s small tweaks that make a big difference, giving the salty-bitter-sweet combo I crave. What I haven’t changed, and wouldn’t dare, is how stupid and easy it is to do. The kind of dessert you don’t have to worry about if you’re having a whole Passover hype.

And even if you’re not celebrating Passover, who doesn’t want another easy dessert?

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Recipe: Salted Caramel Matzo

Ingredients

  • 6 savory matzos
  • 1 cup (226 grams) salted butter (or unsalted butter plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt)
  • 1 cup (213 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups (226 grams) bittersweet or chopped chocolate chips (the darker the better)
  • Puff salt, optional
  • Your choice of toppings (see Author’s Notes), optional

directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide matzo evenly between baking sheets, breaking pieces as needed to fit.
  2. Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, boil for about 2 minutes until the mixture is homogeneous and slightly thickened, like a caramel sauce.
  3. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the top of the matzo, spreading it with an offset or silicone spatula to cover. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbly. Remove from oven.
  4. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the caramel. Let sit for a few minutes, until the chocolate melts effortlessly with the swoosh of an offset spatula. Spread chocolate to evenly cover. If you opt for toppings, sprinkle them now.
  5. Let cool until no longer hot, then transfer to refrigerator to cool completely. Break or cut into pieces. In an airtight container or tightly wrapped, this keeps well in the freezer for up to 1 month.