Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Mahtzoh Toffee Recipe

This has to be the easiest, most popular stuff ever. The story is that a group of friends made plans to gather and it happened to be Passover, and our friend and hostess Barb is Jewish. We all decided to honor that by bringing Jewish dishes to the party.
The party was a huge success and we enjoyed lots of new foods, and learned some Jewish history and traditions in the process. At one point Barb asked me to carve the rotisserie chickens she'd bought. As I cut into the first one, I thought the texture odd, and the first slice revealed that this was no chicken. Apparently our friend had grabbed a chicken....and a HAM!
We tease Barb often about Passover Ham, but it's the best kind of teasing, done with love and friendship.

So the toffee---I'd decided to bring a dessert but was having a lot of trouble finding a recipe. Another friend, George--an unlikely source of recipes-- happened to be talking about having been at the gym on the treadmill, watching a morning show, and the mahtzoh toffee that they were making sounded really good. Bingo! An internet search turned up several recipes, I picked the easiest, and the rest is history.

I've made countless batches now and sent the recipe to dozens of friends. Every time I hear back from another new fan, I think of the fun party, Passover ham, and the reason we share recipes.

1 c. butter (unsalted)
1 c. brown suger (dark or light, I've used both)
1/2 t. vanilla
dash sea salt
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips (see note)
1/2 package HEATH toffee chips
Mahztoh crackers

Preheat oven to 350
On a cookie sheet, lined with parchament paper, lay out a single layer of mahtzoh crackers. Cover the whole surface (you'll need to break a few crackers to fit)

Melt butter, add sugar. Heat to a boil then cook 3 minutes at a boil.
Add vanilla and sea salt, swirling quickly, then pour the mixture over the crackers. Use the back of a spoon to even out the candy.
Put the sheet in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes

Remove from oven and immediate spread chocolate chips over the pan. NOTE the better the chocolate, the better the toffee. I personally vouch for a mix of 60% cacao and semisweet chips. Chips will melt, smooth them out to cover the surface. Sprinkle the toffee chips over the chocolate. Reserve a small portion without nuts for your nut-allergic friends. Cool until chocolate is set. Break into pieces.

Store in airtight container. Toffee will last a few days. Well, it would last if it didn't disappear right away when you offer it around.



Here are the recipes I've promised to post

PIE CRUST as taught to me by Ruth Mosley, my mother-in-law
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1/4 c. butter (unsalted)

5 1/2 T cold water
1/4 c. flour

Mix flour, salt in bowl. Add shortening and butter and mix with pastry cutter until dough makes pea-sized pieces.
Mix cold water and flour. Add that, slowly, to the flour mix until dough sticks together when pressed woth fork.

Poach chicken breasts (a package of three pieces) in microwave until cooked, then shred or dice. I usually have more chicken than needed. I use the rest as dog treats, or in chili. Use your imagination here.

At the same time, melt 3 T butter in sacucepan. Add flour until the butter's all absorbed, about 1/4 c. Add 2 c. milk and cook, stirring, until it thickens.
Add what you like! carrots, celery, peas, corn (I do) potatoes (I don't) until it's all cooked.

Preheat oven to 375
Roll out pie crust. Use about 2/3 and line a souffle-type dish with that. Roll out the rest for the top. Pour in the filling and then add the top crust.
Optional--egg wash on top crust--makes it pretty and a little crustier!
Bake for 15 minutes at 375 then reduce heat to 350 and cook another 30 minutes or so.



Season's Greetings

I was in LaCrosse, Wisconsin yesterday for an agility trial, and it finished about 6 pm. I wasn't looking forward to the 2 1/2 hour drive home in the dark, but the roads had been clear on the way down Friday afternoon (after our blizzard--LaCrosse got about 18" of snow) so I loaded up and headed out.
As it turned out, things weren't nearly as dark as I thought they'd be.
The snow reflected any light--headlights, streetlights, ubiquitous transmission towers, farmstead security lights--you name it and the snow brightened it.

The sky was cloudy, so the lights from all the small towns along the way were also reflected at that level--the nearly-pink color of winter sky.

But the most entertaining lights were those adorning seemingly every house between there and here. I can remember the energy crisis of the 70s when everyone was encouraged to cease this practice. Today, "icicles" frame the rooflines. Inflated snow globes bob and weave. Electric deer guard the garden. Snowmen light the way to the front door. Stars and crosses decorate silos.

So I'm not a big fan of all this. I love a string of lights on a tree as much as the next person, and I saw hundreds of those. I suppose families gather in the yard to blow up the reindeer and toss nets of lights on the bushes, then sit in the window gazing in delight. Then it's back to their video games.

I prefer the illumination of the full moon on fresh snow, and a starry sky. There's a meteor shower this week and those lights cannot be bought. Call me old fashioned!