Sweet, Chewy and Delicious

Marcy Goldman’s Caramel Matzoh Crunch is so good that, to many, it’s become a new tradition and an essential snack during Passover. 

by Sue Tomchin

“If you make only one thing at Passover, make this,” writes professional baker and cookbook author Marcy Goldman in the introduction to her recipe for Caramel Matzoh Crunch that appears on Epicurous.com. 

Apparently thousands of people over the last 30 years have taken Marcy at her word. “There are some 207,000 mentions about it on the Internet, even on a Chinese grandmother’s blog,” says Goldman in a phone interview from her Montreal home.

Indeed, Goldman’s recipe has been copied endlessly, often without attribution, and has been used by companies as to create their own confections. “Caramel Matzoh Crunch has become a classic like Toll House Cookies or Waldorf Salad,” she says.  “Certain things are so good, they take on a life of their own and become part of culinary parlance.” 

Goldman’s enthusiasm for her own creation is not hyperbole. Raves abound on Epicurious: “Hands-down the best Passover treat.” ”Easy and wonderful. Will make again and again.” “An absolute must for Passover.” “A very forgiving recipe with endless variations.” “Did not taste like a Passover treat. Will make it anytime.” 

While she says that she initially developed the recipe in the 1980s with the aim to entice one of her sons to eat during Passover, she had also noticed, she writes in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, that despite laboring over Passover tortes and pastries, her Seder guests were generally too full to them justice. They would, however, “nibble at sweets after a big meal.” She had long made a confection from an old Farm Journal cookbook that included only three ingredients—soda crackers, butter and brown sugar. What would happen, she considered, if she replaced the soda crackers with matzoh? The resulting confection was, “outrageously unique,” not to mention delicious and easy-to-prepare. 

She included the recipe in the pre-Passover freelance feature articles she wrote in such newspapers as Newsday, the Los Angeles Times and the Montreal Star and its fame began to spread. “It became viral almost immediately,” she says. “At parties I found that I was being offered a platter of my own food,” she recalls. 

It became even more popular when she featured it in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. That book, which initially came out in 1998, was among the first cookbooks devoted to Jewish baking. It was updated and reissued in 2009. 

Matzoh Caramel Crunch can be almost endlessly embellished and varied. You can make it with gluten-free matzoh. You can sprinkle on chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, but you can also use white chocolate and sprinkle on chopped or slivered almonds. Goldman has combined three kinds of chocolate for a marbleized effect and has even swirled in raspberry or apricot preserves with the chocolate. You can also use spices, liqueurs, extracts or crumbled mint leaves, she notes. To keep it pareve, you can use Passover margarine, “but I would sooner serve it as a snack, [rather than at a meat meal] because I prefer it with butter,” Goldman says. She has ground matzoh crunch and used it as the crumb bottom for her Passover cheesecake and as a topping on her Passover Mock Chestnut Torte, that appears in her book and on her website; she has also rolled chocolate truffles in the crumbs, giving them a praline flavor.

“Matzoh crunch is a new Passover tradition, but it seems like an old one, since people have been making it now for 30 years,” she says. 

Goldman realized a long time ago that there is no reason for Passover desserts “to be stuck in the dark ages.” When she wrote her Jewish baking book, she worked hard to create recipes that would appeal to contemporary palates. She speaks proudly about the yellow cake recipe she developed which, she writes, “is a good foundation for fresh fruit, pareve Passover mousse or a chocolate ganache topping.” Since there’s a whole week to eat after the Seders, she recommends her brownies, biscotti and simple cookies, or suggests making a sponge cake and using it as the basis for a Passover bread pudding. 

The week JW spoke with her, Goldman’s thoughts were turned, not to Passover baking, but to Babka. Her recipe for chocolate Babka had appeared in the Washington Post. “Babka is trending right now,’’ she says. 

Goldman’s latest book, The Baker's Four Seasons: Baking by the Season, the Harvest and the Occasion came out in November 2014. When you purchase a copy of this or any of her other books, you can send her the receipt and receive a four-month subscription to her website, betterbaking.com. This gives you access to some 2,500 recipes including such Passover-friendly recipes as Baked in Ganache Flourless Chocolate Torte, Molten Chocolate Cake, Passover Caponata, Passover Vegetable Mini Kugels and, you guessed it, her Caramel Matzoh Crunch with variations.

(Originally published in spring 2015)