Passover means something different to everyone. For Shlomo Mendelson, it means eating matzo in his public school cafeteria for a week in April. For his non-Jewish friends, it means wondering why Shlomo has suddenly taken to eating nothing but hard-boiled eggs, oversized crackers and celery sticks at lunchtime.
And yet, if they were to simply ask the young Mendelson boy, the others would learn that Passover, which we head into this week, commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. So you've got Moses, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments and a triumphant return to Canaan (I'm sure you've seen the movie.)
Passover also means lots and lots of unleavened recipes, some of which are little miracles in and of themselves, including this sweet treat. From Bonnie Stern to Joan Nathan, everyone's got her recipe for this winning chocolate caramel snack, and who's to say who invented it? (Although Bonnie Stern credits Marcy Goldman, a Montreal baker.)
A bissle this, a shmeck of that, and before too long it's time to "Eat! Eat! You're all skin and bones!"
CHOCOLATE ALMOND CARAMEL MATZO BRITTLE
6 pieces matzo
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet seems to get the job done, or, use your favourite high quality chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large cookie sheet with tinfoil. Arrange matzo in a single layer on foil -- don't worry if they overlap.
2. If using almonds, toast in the saucepan you're about to use for the butter and sugar mixture (one less pot to clean!) Once toasted, remove from pot and set almonds aside.
3. Place butter and brown sugar in the medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Go against your instincts and try not to stir it. Just cook for a few minutes until mixture comes together and looks saucy, then pour evenly over the six pieces of matzo. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until caramel is bubbling.
4. As soon as matzo comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Wait 5 minutes then spread chocolate as evenly as possible, making sure to get under the overlapped pieces. (The heat of the sugar and butter will have melted the chocolate.) Sprinkle toasted almonds over top, then pop in the fridge until the chocolate and caramel are set, about 15 minutes. Break into chunks.
So good it's almost worth wandering the desert for 40 years.