This is some seriously delightful business. It’s not heavy, it’s not overwhelming (at least when proportions are done well; more on that later), it’s crisp and travels well and melts in your mouth. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy but you can tell people it was a burden and they’ll totally believe you. Homemade caramel is one of the great mysteries of the world to most, so milk that for all it’s worth.
Use fewer pieces of matzoh if you want a thicker layer of caramel, add more chocolate chips if you’re not such a caramel fan. I was running low on crackers when I made a recent batch and the caramel layer was slightly too much for comfort. The balance in the recipe below is, for me, just right. And a little tip: after everything sets, freeze all the pieces and it’ll keep forever. I froze a batch before taking it on a lengthy plane ride a while back and the chocolate didn’t even think about getting all melty and messy.
This is originally from David Lebovitz, bless him.
Chocolate-Covered Caramel Crunch
5 or 6 sheets lightly salted matzoh or approximately 40 Saltine crackers (matzoh really works best and it’s a lot more common than it used to be)
1 cup butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (you can go fancy and use chopped dark or milk chocolate, but it’s really not necessary)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line your biggest baking sheet (as long as it has a lip! I’m imagining the horrors that would ensue if you tried this with one of those edgeless sheets. Ack!) completely with foil. Now layer it again. Trust me, you want a nice barrier between melted hot sugar and your cookie sheet.
Line the whole baking sheet with matzoh, covering all parts. You’ll need to break the big matzoh pieces so they fill the sheet completely, but be gentle, because while they’re perforated, they don’t break evenly. Obviously if you go with saltines, this won’t be an issue.
In a medium-size pot, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring constantly. Take the pot off the burner and stir in the vanilla, then quickly pour it over the matzoh. Work fast, because this stuff will set up before you know it. Try to get it even (use a silicone spatula for best non-stick results), but this is supposed to be a little rustic (code for cutely messy), so it’s ok if it’s not perfectly spread.
Pop the whole sheet into the oven for 15 minutes. Check in on it every few minutes to make sure it’s not burning – but it is meant to get deeper brown and bubble quite a bit. Turn down the heat a bit if it looks like things are getting more singed than golden.
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Let those hang out for about five minutes, and then once they’re all soft and beginning to melt, spread them evenly across the caramel. Now let it all have some privacy until the chocolate and caramel sets (this won’t take as long as you think, but if you’re desperate, put the sheet in your fridge (or, if even more desperate still, the freezer) to speed the process up.
If you can part with it, this would make a great addition to that plate of assorted cookies you were planning on giving your neighbors this Christmas, or as a hostess gift for all those parties you’re attending in the next month. Happy eating!