I first heard about this very simple Passover dessert years ago. I believe Marcy Goldman, a wonderful baker, originated the idea, and since then hundreds of others have done their riffs on it—just as I am about to do.
David Lebovitz published his version (with complete attribution to Marcy, of course. David is always a gentleman.) I tell you this because when making a dessert for the first time I like to take a look at how David does it. (I think he has published a version of just about every dessert on the face of this earth—and he has the audacity to remain slim and fit while baking and living in Paris.)
Neither Marcy’s nor David’s versions call for Wellfleet Sea Salt, of course, because it had not yet been invented. And the truth is, you can make it with other course sea salts, but it would be far, far better to make it with my son Zak’s sea salt, which he harvests by hand. (And nearly died doing. Now, if that doesn’t motivate you to use his sea salt, then you are impervious to my very best Jewish-mother pressure and I just don’t know what to do with you.)
The problem I have with all the versions I saw has to do with this really strange thing about my Dad. He doesn’t like chocolate. And no, he is not an alien life form. He just doesn’t like chocolate. (I don’t like ice cream. So there.)
My father is coming over for a Seder Monday night, and of course I want him to enjoy a dessert, so I figured I’d make him butterscotch Matzo Brittle. My Dad loves butterscotch: I know, because when we were little I would climb on his lap when he got home from work, reach into his shirt pocket and pull out the roll of butterscotch lifesavers. He always let me have one, even if it was right before dinner, as long as I was quiet about it.
I also need to bring dessert to a friend’s house for the second night of Passover, and they all like chocolate. And I had this other idea for clusters I wanted to try out.
I had a matzo brittle fest here, testing and creating these three versions. Don’t ask me which I like best. In this way, matzo brittle is like my children– I love them all the same, but differently.
First, the classic: Chocolate Toffee Matzo Brittle, courtesy of Marcy Goldberg and David Lebovitz. (Their versions are a little more delicate, by the way. Mine is layered more thickly with the toffee and chocolate, and I use heftier dark brown sugar for more molasses flavor. Oh, and mine has the key ingredients of Wellfleet Sea Salt. Did I mention that? )
The printable recipe follows the photos. Then, after the recipe for the Chocolate and Butterscotch Toffee Matzo Brittles with Sea Salt, I will show you how to make the Chocolate Toffee Matzo Clusters with Sea Salt. It’s easy.
First, the brittle using whole and mostly whole matzos:
Line an 11 x 17 baking pan with parchment paper. Top the parchment paper completely with matzo. You will need to break a couple of pieces up to fit it all in.
Melt dark brown sugar and butter together and bring to a boil.
It begins to thicken…
It gets thicker and frothy and a little glossy…
Boil it, stirring, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, which takes about 3 minutes. When it is ready, your spoon dragged across the the pan, will leave an open line like this:
Pour the dangerously hot sugar mixture on the matzo and work quickly to spread it evenly across the entire surface. (Dangerous because nothing burns as badly as boiling sugar. Be careful.)
Put it in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes. When you take it out, it will look baked on, and toffee-esque.
Immediately sprinkle with the 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups mini baking chips (you can also use the regular size ones, but minis spread faster.) Butterscotch chips are not available as mini’s, so you have to use the regular size.
Now wait a minute. The chips, whether they are chocolate or butterscotch, will become shiny. Here is a photo with some of the chips shiny and some dull. See the difference? You need to wait another few seconds until they are all shiny.
Once they are all shiny, spread them evenly across the surface of the matzos.
Butterscotch chips also have to get shiny before you spread them.
It looks nice to let a little of the toffee show through when you spread the butterscotch.
As soon as you spread the chips, sprinkle on the sea salt. Now set the brittle aside. When it is cool, put it in the refrigerator to set the topping.
And what you end up with is this:
Chocolate or Butterscotch Toffee Matzo Brittle with Wellfleet Sea Salt
4 sheets matzo
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate morsels (or butterscotch morsels)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 11 x 17 baking sheet with parchment paper. Top the paper with a layer of the matzo, breaking them up to cover the entire surface.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil three minutes, continuing to stir, or until the mixture pulls away from the sides and turns a deep mahogany brown. Pour over the matzo and, working quickly, spread into an even layer.
3. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. The toffee will bubble, but keep it in the oven the full time, until it is baked into the matzo. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with the chips. Wait until they become shiny, which take about 1 minute; spread the chocolate or butterscotch in a nice, even layer over the toffee. Immediately sprinkle with the salt. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate to set the topping.
4. The chocolate toffee brittle may be cut into neat squares or broken into pieces; the butterscotch brittle may be broken into pieces. (It won’t cut into nice even pieces).
5. Keep in a cool, dry place until serving. (May be stored in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before serving).
Now, here’s how to make clusters. Instead of using sheets of matzo, you will use farfel, which is just matzo that has been broken into bits about the size of your thumb nail. You can break matzo into the bits yourself, if you prefer.
Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment and preheating the oven to 350F, just like before. Melt the sugar and butter, bring to a boil for three minutes– and this is where it changes. Instead of pouring the mixture onto the farfel, you are going to stir 2 cups of farfel into the pot.
Spread the farfel onto the prepared baking sheet. You have to kind of karate chop it with the side of the spatula to get it to spread. Then sprinkle with the chips, just as you do for the flat matzos, and wait for the chips to get shiny before you spread them.
Sprinkle with salt, let the topping cool and set, and break it into clusters. Here’s the recipe.
Toffee Chocolate Matzo Clusters with Wellfleet Sea Salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in bits
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups matzo farfel
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate morsels
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 11 x 7 baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil three minutes, continuing to stir, or until the mixture pulls away from the sides and turns a deep mahogany brown. Stir in the farfel.
3. When the farfel is completely combined, spread it out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the oven 15 minutes.
4. Immediately pour the chips over the baked mixture. As soon as they become shiny, spread them as evenly as you can over the surface. Sprinkle with sea salt and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until the chocolate is completely set.
Mommy needs salt. (Don’t let this happen to you.)
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