by Emily Thorson
First things first: WE WON! Tom and I walked away with a shiny new pizza cutter.
But our path was not without its obstacles. First, thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. I was especially taken with the Gougeres idea: fancy yet comfort-foody, rich yet deceptively light–perfect! However, there was one problem: I don’t like Gruyere, the cheese most recipes recommend. I found an alternative version, White Cheddar Puffs with Green Onions. Long story short: they were eh. Two reasons: (1) too oniony and (2) I didn’t cook them long enough. It was a difficult choice: be late for beers with an out-of-town friend or produce underdone cheesy puffs? Actually, it wasn’t a difficult choice at all: friend + beers > gougeres. Sorry.
Luckily, I had made a backup recipe earlier in the day: David Lebovitz’s Chocolate -Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch. I am a 100% sucker for anything that combines sweet and salty, so they’d been on my To-Make List for quite some time. My how-to is below, but I also recommend you click over and check out his amazing photos of the finished product.
4 to 6 sheets matzohs (Lebovitz calls for unsalted ones, but my inner deer cried out MORE SALT and so I used salted ones. They worked wondefully)
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt (I used more pinches. Lots more)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I also used more chocolate than this, but I shouldn’t have. Some of them came out too chocolatey. You really want to be able to taste the toffee flavor).
1 cup toasted sliced almonds (I put almonds on half of mine and sprinkled the other half with more sea salt. Personally I preferred them without but I can see the appeal)>
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375. Cover cookie sheets (including the edges) with foil and put wax paper on top of that. Hardened caramel is a bitch to scrape off. Put in 4 or 5 matzohs. Lebovitz calls for unsalted ones, but my inner deer calls out MORE SALT and so I used salted ones. They worked fine. Also, my cookie sheets don’t have raised edges so I used a couple baking dishes.
Step 2: I think this part is the most magical. No matter how many times I make caramel, I am still surprised when it works. Science! Anyway, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat. Once it’s all melted together, boil for 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and then add the salt and vanilla. Then spread it over the matzoh with a heatproof spatula
Step 3: Put the pan in the oven! Reduce the heat to 350. Bake for 15 minutes. It might bubble up (mine didn’t), and if it does then reduce the heat some more. I don’t have a picture of this step because photographs of ovens are bo-ring.
Step 4: Remove from oven. Immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let it stand for five minutes, then spread the chocolate all around.
Step 5: Sprinkle with toasted almonds or sea salt. Once it’s cool, you can break it into artfully irregular pieces.
Step 6: WIN BAKEOFF! Sorry I don’t have a better picture of the finished product; I was too busy eating everyone else’s finished products. Anyway, my photos could never live up to the ones David took, so you’ll have to trust me that they REALLY DO come out looking (and tasting) that good.