The optimal use and teleological purpose of leftover matzah is to become matzah toffee, better known to all who taste it as matzah crack, the irresistable combination of salty crunch, rich toffee, and plenty of chocolate. Here's how to turn matzah into candy (it's easy).Yum
Setting up the matzahs
Due to the potential stickiness factor with toffee, I recommend lining your baking sheets (you need rimmed sheet pans here) with aluminum foil before you put on a final layer of parchment paper. This makes cleanup easy: you just bunch up all the stickiness inside the foil and toss. (Some batches come off cleanly for me, while others make more of a mess.) Once you have the pan lined, you want to cover the entire thing with sheets of matzah. Start with whole sheets, then break matzahs to fit in all the odd rectangles left over. It's okay if they're in little shards; you're going to break the finished matzahs into pieces anyway.
Making the toffee
Because my brain loves organizing things, I've probably spent longer than is normal trying to determine the precise taxonomy of caramel, toffee, and butterscotch. For now we'll go with a working definition of toffee as cooked-down sugar, usually with butter melted in, then hardened until it's brittle.
To make the toffee for this matzah candy, you'll cook brown sugar down in a saucepan with butter over medium-low heat. It'll take 2 to 3 minutes for the sugar to dissolve completely, and then another 3-4 minutes for it to thicken. You want to leave it on the heat until it's bubbling vigorously and sort of pulling away from the edges of the pan (see the photo top left—that's about 1 minute before I took it off.) I clocked this at 230F / 110C on an instant-read thermometer.
As soon as the toffee mixture is thickened, you stir in the vanilla—be ready for some responsive bubbling from the mixture—then pour it over the prepared sheets on matzah on the sheet pan. The toffee will harden fairly fast, so as soon as you pour it on, spread it around so it coats the matzahs. Any that gets under the matzahs will create a bonus underlayer of toffee. Then into the oven it goes to harden completely.
Baking the toffee
Hardening toffee in the oven isn't a universal toffee step—often it's simply left to cool and harden on its own. I use it here because it makes the hardening foolproof and helps in melting the chocolate chips, making it easy to slather them over the whole thing.
You will want to hover nearby and watch your toffee-covered matzahs in the oven, so you can take them out at the first sign of the matzah edges darkening. The toffee will bubble vigorously towards the end of the baking time (like in the picture above).
Melting chocolate over the toffee
As soon as you take the toffee-covered matzah out of the oven, immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. Don't worry if it looks like they're just sitting there and will never cover all that matzah; they will, I promise. Walk away for five minutes or so and then you'll be able to schmear the warmed chocolate easily over the hardening toffee. An offset spatula is handy here if you've got one, but a regular knife works too.
Let everything cool and harden until it's solid. This takes a long time at room temperature because the pan itself is hot, but if you have the room in your fridge, you can pop it in there for half an hour to hurry it up. Then, break it into candy-sized pieces with your hands. Store in a sealed container on the counter.
Making this recipe dairy-free
You can make a dairy-free version of matzah toffee by using margarine, like Earth Balance sticks, in place of the butter. It will be saltier and, well, less buttery, but it works and disappears just as fast as its dairy cousin.
Looking for more ways to use matzah?
- Sweet Matzah Brei - the classic of classics, for excellent reason. Basically matzah French toast.
- Roxie's Savory Matzah Brei - Jewish comfort food at its savory best.
- Matzah Granola - sort of the breakfast-acceptable version of matzah candy. It's delightful, for real.
Matzah Toffee (dairy)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil, then line with parchment paper.
- Break the four matzahs so that they cover the entire baking sheet. Small pieces are fine.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved in the butter, 2-3 minutes.
- Bring to a boil and allow to boil vigorously until thickened, another 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture registers 230°F / 110°C.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt, if using (be ready for the vanilla to cause bubbling.) Immediately pour over the matzahs on the baking sheet, spreading with a spatula so that the toffee evenly coats the tops of the matzahs.
- Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes, until the toffee is bubbling but watching so the matzah ends don't darken too much.
- Remove from the oven and immediately scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the hot toffee. Leave to melt, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
- Using an offset spatula or a knife, spread the melting chocolate over the toffee layer. Leave to harden at room temperature for an hour or more, or in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
- Break into small pieces with your hands. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.