A matzo-based brittle for the modern age

For years, like so many others, I drizzled chocolate over matzo for my children at Passover, so I was no stranger to matzo treats. But somehow I missed the creation of caramel mazzo crunch, also called “mazzo butter crunch” or “mazzo brittle,” many incarnations of which can be found in cookbooks, blogs, and websites. Sometimes the provenance is recognized, but mostly not.

Being the food detective that I am, I thought I’d set the record straight. The earliest recipe I could find is by Marcy Goldman, author of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, first published in 1998. In the book, she includes a recipe she calls “My Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Caramel Matzoh Crunch.”

In 1986, Ms. Goldman was looking for a Passover dessert to feature in newspapers in the United States and Canada and spotted a recipe for “Easy Toffee Bars” in a 1978 issue of “Farm Journal’s Choice Chocolate Recipes” by Elise W. Manning. In it, they used salt crackers as the base for the treats.

“One lightbulb went out,” Ms Goldman, 67, said via Zoom from her Montreal home. “If you could use saltines, why not swap them out for matzo?”

She did just that, and the recipe took off from there.

Occasional guests have brought Ms. Goldman’s Crunch to my Passover Seder, never straying too far from the original.

However, this year I updated her recipe: I added a peanut topping and swapped out the chocolate for high-protein peanut butter. The crunchy peanuts and a dash of fleur de sel counteract the sweetness of the caramel, which acts as a binding agent.

While Sephardic Jews have long considered peanuts kosher for Passover, most Ashkenazi Jews have avoided them during the holiday. But a 2015 ruling by the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinic arm of the conservative movement, stands Kitniyot, or legumes in Hebrew, acceptable. (This change was not observed by the Orthodox.)

Despite the ruling, most people still make Ms. Goldman’s dessert with chocolate and maybe almonds, which have always been kosher for Passover. You can try it with other nut butters like almond or cashew nuts, or even tahini with a sprinkle of halvah. The recipe is versatile and wrapped in a tin makes a tasty gift for the Seder host. But beware: This candy takes a lot of getting used to.

I asked Ms. Goldman what she thought of all the variations on her recipe.

“It’s gotten around so much that I’m OK with it now,” she said. “I think for the person who can’t cook or bake, being the one to bring the butter crunch matzo saves them.”

Recipe: Salted Peanut and Caramel Matzo Brittle A matzo-based brittle for the modern age

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