The Passover Problem

Every year, it’s the same thing; Endless sheets of dry, bland matzo, and very little else. Passover is not a fun holiday by any stretch of the imagination, having much more to do with loss and suffering than celebration, but I still don’t see why it must always be a miserable week to endure. I’m far from religious, and will readily admit that I do not keep kosher for the whole week, but I do participate in the family Seder and as always, am responsible for an appropriate and delicious dessert. In this case, it means no barley, wheat, rye, oats, spelt, corn, rice, peanuts, legumes, and leavening in general. As if it wasn’t tough enough being a vegan at a family dinner! This is why I don’t continue to observe beyond that one meal, because I value my health and personally can’t maintain a balanced diet with such limitations.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and it’s certainly easy enough to brainstorm a solid sweet ending for Seder. In my case, I’m planning on making tartlettes with a toasted coconut crust, and filling them with the lemon curd from My Sweet Vegan, but more on that later. Your best bet is to rely on fruits and nuts- Go very simply with poached pears, or try some variation of panna cotta subbing in coconut yogurt for the soy (and the sky’s the limit when it comes to flavors) which you could pair with a fresh fruit sauce. Whip up a simple mousse in no time, or a frozen delight like pumpkin ice cream is sure to end the dinner on a sweet note.

If all else fails, many candies are very simple and naturally kosher for Passover, such as peanut butter and peppermint cups, fudge, or an all-time favorite in my household, the matzah toffee, as pictured above, from my cookbook. So simple and crowd-pleasing that even my omnivore mom volunteered to make it this year, it’s one sweet treat that we always have on hand to beat the Passover blues.

While it may be trying to keep kosher, everything will be just fine if you can whip up a batch (or two, or three…) of this stuff. Even if you don’t celebrate Passover, you may want to pick up a box or two of matzah while it’s on the market now; You’ll want to make it all year round!

Matzah Toffee

Matzah, to fit pan
1 Cup Margarine
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
12 Ounces (2 Cups) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a 15 x 10 inch jellyroll pan, or other shallow pan, with matzah boards. Fit them to cover the bottom evenly, without overlapping; you may need to break them to do so.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine and brown sugar together and bring them to a slow boil. Maintain a gently boil without stirring for 3 – 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat a spoon. Pour the sugar mixture over the matzah and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 4 minutes and remove carefully.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the matzah, then return the pan to your oven for another 30 – 60 seconds. After it comes out of the oven this second time, gently spread the melted chocolate so that it covers the top as completely as possible.

Let the matzah toffee cool at room temperature until it has completely solidified. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 pounds of candy.