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.

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66 thoughts on “The Passover Problem

  1. Passover can really be difficult for a vegan, especially for Ashkenazy jews. Your matzah toffee looks delicious! Happy Passover Hannah!

  2. Some omit peanuts too because it’s technically a legume. So if you make peanut butter cookies, consider yourself lucky! (Well, if you have a peanut butter cookie in your hand you’re probably lucky anyway).
    Happy passover!

  3. Mmm these look amazing! Sadly I’ve not managed to find anything Matzah here but I have bookmarked this for the day I find some! (and I will!!)

  4. Delicious!

    By the way, I stopped in Health in a Hurry yesterday! I was visiting my friend from Fairfield and she lives right around the corner. I got the carrot ginger soup, it’s so tasty. The women in there were so friendly as well!

  5. Mmmm, the toffee looks fabulous! Funny how you called your mom and omnivore. It really is incredible how you make such amazingly creative and from what I can tell, delish foods that are vegan.
    ~ingrid

  6. It sounds simple and delicious. I have some matzah leftover from a kugel recipe. I’m going to try this!

  7. Thanks for sharing your Passover story- I wasn’t sure about all grains- I mad coconut macaroons (vegan of course) but they are binded with a wee bit of barley flour… oops, more for me :) I am planning on making this toffee-looks decadent, but so simple and feeds a crowd! :D

  8. See now I know nothing really about passover or seder. I don’t think that is really known here in Holland (altough I am sure we have strange little habits not known to the rest of the world..lol) but this recipe… sounds totally delicious!

  9. Sounds like my current diet will be just perfect for Passover! But I can’t help it, I hate matzoh. And I’ve even tried matzoh toffee (another recipe, years ago, not yours). The chocolate and toffee parts look great, though! ;)

  10. I totally love this post! I adore Passover Seder. I love all of the food–all of the food, that is, except the Matzoh. So bland, so cardboard-ish. Oy, but this chocolate toffee matzoh sounds fabulous. I’m sure I could eat sheets of it! And all of your Passover desserts sound wonderful, too–so much better than the canned macaroons!

  11. I have made something similar with crackers I will definitely make this for my mom’s seder. Personally, I cheat too :).

  12. Simplicity is the beauty! I think you just outdid yourself again. I will definitely make this. My hubby loves matzoh but I always think it’s too bland and dry. Now this recipe has just made matzoh infinitely more attractive to me. :) Thanks for the ingenious idea!

  13. That recipe has always caught my eye in your book Hannah, but I have yet to make it.

    I hope you enjoy your Passover!

  14. You should be featured on Chopped (new show on Food Network), because you are such a resourceful and witty chef! I would’ve never dreamt of adding matzoh to toffee and just based off of its looks, I predict it will be a winner

  15. Hey Hannah,
    I was invited to my first seder this year. I was thinking about making a raw gnger pear cheesecake (it is full of cashews, almonds and dates). It definitely doesn’t contain any flour or legumes. I have heard that cumin isn’t appropriate for passover-are there any other spices that would be against the rules? The host is always very supportive of my veganism so I would hate to bring food that isn’t appropriate for her diet during passover.

  16. I’m sorry your Passovers have been so filled with suffering and endless matzot. I’m also bemused that someone who figured out how to make vegan merengues (which I thought had to be impossible!) can’t come up with a creative vegan kosher-for-Passover diet for a week.

    I have some links for you to help with finding nice vegan things to eat, if you haven’t seen them already: sample recipes from Debra Wasserman’s Vegan Passover cookbook and more clever ideas from the blogger who calls herself The Chocolate Lady. As clever and creative and resourceful as these two women are (with the baked plantains, sheer genius) I know you could come up with things they haven’t yet.

  17. i passed matzah sheets in the store yesterday and i wondered if for a minute i should buy some and make it for easter sunday.. (i know- we are not jewish- but hey! can celebrate every holiday!)

    hope you have a great weekend!!

  18. I love passover! But you do have a point there. I like all your ideas, but especially the chocolate, yum!

  19. Hey, thanks! I have to admit, I have never had matzah, but I definitely love toffee! And this looks so easy, I might have to give it a try :)

  20. passover is tough as a vegan – good call on not keeping kosher thru the week.

    I LOVE CHOC CHOVERED TOFFEE MATZAH!!!! My mom used to make this all.the.time. – its pretty time consuming and sticky so she doesn’t make it as much anymore :( :(

  21. I made these. They’re delicious. May not last until the Seder! Only one question – I had trouble getting the toffee part to solidify – any suggestions? It’s probably because I didn’t use real butter, but used Smart Balance light. Will try again with Smart Balance regular tomorrow when I know I’ll have to make some more!

  22. […] The recipe is very easy, it’s just a matter of making sure you spread the caramel when it’s at just the right consistency, before it cooks too long and burns! Hannah Kaminsky has a good version of the recipe on her blog, which can be seen here. […]

  23. […] occasion” is trying out some new stuff, too, so we added in Apple and Date Mousse and Matzah Toffee. The rest of the menu remained the same as last year: Lemon-Coconut-Almond Haroset, Turkish […]

  24. it’s interesting how people think this is creative.

    this is a classic recipe.

    i’m not saying that this post is bad – matzoh/toffee/chocolate is awesome, but I mean, it’s not new…

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