Food | Holidays

Baking Passover Munchies and Memories

Matzo rocaHere's what I like best about the Jewish holiday of Passover:

It's filled to the brim with traditions (every family has its own); legend and lore (did the Red Sea really part?); and family togetherness. Passover, celebrated for eight days (it began at sundown last Friday evening), is a story about freedom from oppression and tyranny; its lessons resonate across the globe and throughout the generations.

But let's get down to this year's Passover and why, for me, it's been a particularly joyful one: I made matzo roca with my two granddaughters. Matzo roca is a takeoff on almond roca; Passover has many delicious versions of popular dishes that are especially created for a holiday that commands observant Jews to eat only unleavened bread during Passover week. Matzo is unleavened flatbread made from flour and water.

Our version of matzo roca was made without nuts because of my granddaughter's nut allergy. But it's divine just the same -- and just as much fun to prepare. The girls helped every step of the way (not terribly complicated; there are just a few steps). And they loved the result -- and proudly displayed and served it at the end of our Passover meal.

Here's the recipe (with nuts), by Shelley Bensussen, taken from a terrific cookbook, Yesterday's Mavens, Today's Foodies.

  • 5 sheets matzo
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup almonds  or walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Cover a baking sheet with foil, dull side up, and grease well. Place whole matzos on the foil in a single layer to cover the entire baking sheet. Combine butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the caramel mixture evenly over the matzos, covering each sheet completely, and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips; when the chips have softened, spread evenly with a knife over the caramel layer. Sprinkle the chopped nuts on the chocolate and freeze for 1 hour.

While still frozen, break the matzo roca into pieces and store in the freezer until ready to use.

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