Monday, April 9, 2012

When Matzo meets ham

Passover and Easter were over the weekend. I don't think that happens too often and since I grew up in the South I think of ham. I have also lived in California for ahem, 30 years, ahem so I conjure up visions of lamb and asparagus and spring creations. I've spent Passover with my cousin many times so her chopped chicken liver, matzo ball soup and brisket make me drool.

So with all these things in mind my friend Jane brought me a recipe of matzo covered with caramel, almonds and chocolate that she had made for her brother for Passover. This recipe is from the April issue of Bon Appetit magazine by Missy Robbins.

I didn't really change much because I had never made this before but I have to say buy good honey to make your caramel. I bought delicious local clover honey and I believe it made a difference. The caramel was outstanding. I also bought evaporated cane juice sugar for the first time. This is fine crystals of light brown sugar prepared from unrefined, minimally processed juice of sugar cane.

The original recipe calls for margarine due to kosher laws regarding mixing dairy and meat at a meal. You learn something new everyday. Jane had substituted butter with good results.

Matzo Almond Croccante my way

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
5 sheets unsalted matzo
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey like clover or wildflower
1/3 cup sliced (not slivered) almonds, lightly toasted
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 67% cocoa), melted

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Place matzo on sheet in a single layer, breaking as needed and overlapping slightly, leaving no gaps.

Stir sugar, butter, honey, and 1/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium high and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is a deep amber color, ~13–15 minutes. Pour caramel evenly over matzo. Immediately sprinkle almonds over. Let cool. Be careful. It's incredibly hot and sticky.

Drizzle melted chocolate over caramel. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces.

Mike would have preferred if I had made this with a lighter chocolate like semisweet. I love the dark chocolate. I also read the other day not to use chocolate chips because they are processed more than other chocolate and contain additives to retain their shape, not very appetizing.

The caramel made me alittle nervous because I was worried about over or under cooking it but if you follow these directions you shouldn't have any problems. I melted the chocolate in a makeshift double boiler and everything came together quickly. As much as I loved this I knew I'd eat too much of it so I gave it to my neighbor with a new baby and grandparents in town. I would definitely make it again and experiment with different kinds of chocolate and nuts. The original recipe called for sea salt and cayenne pepper, maybe next time.

I have a dish involving ham and asparagus planned next and will let you know how it turns out later this week. Enjoy!

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