Tuesday, April 26, 2011

matzah toffee

I know that it's the last day of Passover. But maybe you need one more flourless treat to get you to the finish line? More likely, you never want to see another piece of matzah again. Believe me, I'm with you. But matzah smothered with butter and sugar and chocolate? Well that's another story altogether. Besides, I'd be remiss if I let the holiday pass by without sharing my updated recipe for matzah toffee.

I know that I wrote about this recipe once before, but I've changed my method since then. That was also back before I knew how to take a decent food photo, and my images just did not do this recipe justice.  What hasn't changed is the addictive nature of this sweet and salty snack. Back when I wrote about this recipe the first time, I told you that in my family, it's referred to as "matzah crack" becasue it's nearly impossible to stop eating it once you've started.  (Or, for those of you who caught The Office last week: this matzah is like scrapbooking). So proceed with caution. Or, throw caution to the wind, bake up a huge batch, and eat it all yourself. Remember, it may be a whole year before you see another piece of matzah again. 

Matzah Toffee

6-8 sheets of matzah
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of semisweet and bittersweet becasue that was what I had on hand)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
sea salt, for sprinkling

Line two medium sized baking sheets with foil, and arrange matzah on top of them, breaking the crackers as necessary to cover the baking sheets. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Heat the sugar and water over high heat, without stirring, until the sugar comes to a boil. Continue cooking, watching carefully, until the caramel is a deep amber color (this can be tricky--you don't want to pull your caramel off the stove too soon, as it will be undercooked, but it goes from perfect to burned quite easily which is why it's important to watch it carefully.) When the caramel is ready, immediately remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter (being very careful as hot caramel burns are no fun). When the butter has melted, pour the caramel over the matzah, and, working quickly, spread it evenly over the crackers. Sprinkle the chocoalte chips over the top, and let them sit for a few minutes. Use a spatula to spread the now softened chocolate over the top of the matzah, and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and a generous amount of sea salt. Pop the cookie sheets in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours, or overnight. Before serving, break the matzah up in to pieces.

Friday, April 22, 2011

blackberry macaroon tart

Passover desserts get a bad rap. So far this week, two different coworkers have sent out emails offering up leftover sweets from their Sedars, and both have felt the need to include a disclaimer to the effect of, "don't worry--these aren't your typical Passover desserts!" as a part of their sales pitch. Apparently the assumption is that if a dessert is kosher for Passover, it can't possibly be very tasty.

Enter the Blackberry Macaroon Tart from Heidi Swanson's beautiful new book, Super Natural Every Day. Swanson's tart is both shockingly good and (with one simple substitution) Passover appropriate. The buttery crust is rich, nutty and a perfect mix of sweet and salty. Topped with tart blackberries, sweet coconut macaroon and crunchy pistachios, it's so delicious that it just may silence the Passover dessert naysayers for good. Or at least keep their mouths full for a while.

Blackberry Macaroon Tart
Slightly Adapted from Heidi Swanson
Original Recipe Available via Martha Stewart's Whole Living

*Recipe Note: I followed the recipe as adapted by Whole Living, but substituted an equal amount of almond meal in place of the wheat flour in order to make the tart Passover-friendly. I also used a generous half teaspoon of salt in the crust.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

{twd} strawberry rhubarb double crisp

I don't have a problem admitting when I'm wrong.

So here it is: I was wrong about rhubarb.

We're talking forgetting your date's name wrong.

Using a cup of salt instead of a cup of sugar wrong.

Hitting reply all when you meant to hit reply wrong.

See all these years I thought that rhubarb was tough and bitter and stringy. But at is turns out, rhubarb is sweet and subtly tart and when combined with fresh strawberry jam and candied ginger, totally delicious. This crisp not only got rave reviews at the office but it also turned me into a rhubarb convert. Thanks to Sarah of Teapots and Cakestands who selected it for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours
Available Via Teapots and Cakestands.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

spring carrot tea cakes with maple cream cheese frosting

It's hard to know where to start. You see, I've taken such a long (work-induced) hiatus from the kitchen that everything feels new and unfamiliar. Have I really always had just three mismatched measuring spoons? When did I buy that flour in the cupboard? It's hard to know where to start, so I decided to start with carrots. It seemed as good a place as any. So last week, once I'd done enough laundry, grocery shopping and sleeping to feel recovered from the months spent in the office, I turned to carrot cake. To olive oil laced carrot tea cakes with maple cream cheese icing to be exact.

I began by peeling carrots, toasting walnuts, and whipping cream cheese. At first I felt a little off. A little clumsy with my own things, a little self conscious. But before long, I was snapping photos of bright orange batter and frosting tea cakes before work on a Wednesday as if I'd never been away. Carrots were very good place to start indeed.

Spring Carrot Tea Cakes With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly Adapted from Green Market Baking Book by Laura C. Martin

4 eggs
1 cup maple syrup (Martin suggests Grade B but I used A)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325. Beat the eggs until frothy. In another bowl, mix the syrup, oils, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla. Add to eggs and beat for a minute. Sift the dry ingredients and add them to the mixing bowl. Beat until just combined. Stir in the carrots and the nuts. Pour the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs attached. (Note, Martin suggests baking for 20 minutes but mine took a bit longer).

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, adding the powdered sugar gradually. Mix in the vanilla and maple syrup and spread over the teacakes once they have cooled.