Lauri Exley lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, four-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son.
Charoset, fried matzo, wine, matzo meal bagels, matzo pizza, marshmallows and family. All of these things, and more, are why Passover is and has always been my favorite holiday. Sure, people moan and groan about the dry, tasteless food, but I love it! My favorite memories are of my mother and me using matzo meal to make virtually everything and I have always enjoyed finding new ways to use it (even if bagels and donuts end up having the same taste). In recent years, it has become much easier to keep Kosher for Passover, with more variety and flavor in the food, but I am always searching for something new.
My mother-in-law loves to cook and bake. She has a treasure trove of recipes; each one tops the next. I discovered a recipe she had for something called “Saltine Chocolate Pieces” and after we made them together, and of course ate them, I knew this was a recipe I had to have. The end result is something similar to toffee brittle using saltine crackers. Having spent so many years suffering through store-bought Passover treats, I immediately thought about how great this would taste if I replaced the saltines with matzo.
Chocolate-covered matzo is one of the first items to fly off grocery shelves during the Passover season. So, using my mother-in-law’s recipe, I decided to make a variation of my own. (Upon writing this blog entry, I have discovered that other people have discovered this wonderful creation as well, so I cannot claim it as my own original idea).
Sure, I will continue to make matzo meal bagels and fried matzo every year (can’t forget the classics), but it’s nice to be able to add new, tastier foods to the mix – creating new memories and traditions with my kids.
Matzo Chocolate Pieces (aka Matzo Crunch)
- 4-6 unsalted matzo
- 1 c brown sugar
- 1 c butter
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 c chopped nuts
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 10×15-inch cookie sheet with foil; place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the foil (very important).
- Cover the cookie sheet with a layer of matzo.
- Boil sugar and butter in saucepan for 4 minutes.
- Pour mixture over matzo and spread evenly.
- Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven.
- Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
- Let set and cool for 1 minute, then spread the melted chips over the matzo with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top, then press down lightly.
- Cool until firm and cut into diagonal pieces. Pieces can be frozen.
Yields approximately 30 pieces.
Looking for a camp-y Passover dessert to serve alongside this delicious treat? Try these yummy Matzo S’mores from ingredientsinc.com!
Want fun crafts to teach your kids about this meaningful and complex holiday? How about activities to get them excited and involved in your family’s seder? Or games that get them asking questions? Download Camp Passover, a camp-themed Passover activity book for kids, here: http://www.jewishcamp.org/camp-passover
Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow is the Director of Jewish Education at the Foundation for Jewish Camp.
Our oldest child has reached the age where he is eligible to go to overnight camp for the first time, and we have been giving a lot of thought as to when would be the right time for a child to leave home. We know firsthand that camp is an amazing utopia where 24/7 joyous Judaism is the expectation, but it is normal to think about when the right age to expose our children to a new loving community outside their home and family is.
Conversely, I’ve found we are not as thorough when it comes to judging when to expose our children to some other important life lessons and experiences. Like many other children, my kids learned about the story of Esther in preparation for Purim. A few years ago, when my eldest was in kindergarten, he shared with me what he had learned about this ancient holiday. Haman’s punishment for attempting genocide was to walk behind Mordechai, who was riding on the royal horse, and pick up the poop. He added with a smile that this was his favorite part of the story.
This year on Purim, like every other year, I will try to fulfill the commandment to mistake the blessing of Mordechai with the curse of Haman – the only day of the year on which we are commanded to not differentiate between good and evil. But truthfully, while Purim is clearly a story of survival and joy, it is told against the backdrop of hate and anti-Semitism. Unfortunately in our society, a presence of “evil” or hate is expected; Haman is a stock character in our history. As the adage goes, “What is the definition of an anti-Semite? It is someone who hates Jews more than they are supposed to.” It is astounding to realize that the expectation of anti-Semitism has made us fulfill the commandment of mixing up Mordechai and Haman all year-long.
I am thankful that my young son was not yet taught of Haman and his sons being put to death. But, what is the right age to tell your child about the history and existence of anti-Semitism? It is a curse to think that anti-Semitism is a normal part of our world. It is a blessing to live in an environment like Jewish camp that loves you and cherishes and celebrates your identity. It’s common to sit down to discuss the appropriate age to send one’s child to summer camp for the first time. But if we are willing to put such thought into whether they are ready to enter a new community- a community that will provide them with love, independence, pride, skills, and fun- shouldn’t we give at least as much thought to when and how to expose our children to the reality of and presence of anti-Semitism in our history?
We live in a time of freedom, but we can never forget that this freedom comes at a price. We need to make sure the confusion of Purim is the exception and not the rule. It scares me to think that my children might grow up without strong memories of knowing a survivor of the Shoah, (Holocaust). How will they understand the horrors of anti-Semitism without trivializing it? We need to confront the idea of evil with our children beyond making bad people ”pick up the poop.”
We are getting ready to celebrate one of our favorite holidays, Purim, this weekend! Are you preparing and need some inspiration, recipes, projects, costume ideas, and books? Check out the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Purim Pinterest board for help.
FJC not only has boards for holidays but also camp projects at home, recipes, gear, packing ideas, books, movies, and more!