Passover is a Springtime Jewish Holiday rich in tradition, celebrating the freedom and the exodus of the Jews from Egypt where they were slaves. The story goes that when Moses and Jewish slaves were escaping, God parted the red sea, allowing them to cross safely but they lived in the desert for 40 years after that. Every year, Jews gather around their family table to create special dinner called a seder in which they read from a haggadah, a special jewish text, to tell the story of the exodus, which often may bring up opportunities to discuss the meaning of freedom then and today and to bring awareness to people who are slaves even today.
The story behind the matzoh(also spelled matzo, matza or matzah) is that the jews were leaving Egypt in such haste that they couldn't wait for their dough to rise. Without the time for leavening or the yeasts to develop in the dough, the bread product was a a dry, crisp cracker-like flatbread.
Still eaten for the 7 days of passover, the matzoh is a symbol of the days in which we were slaves so this bread of affliction as it is often called, is just one of the staple foods eaten during the holiday. All forms of flour and chametz (leavening or foods that are mixed with leaving) are removed from the home and prohibited from the diet over the 7 days.
This is like a heavy duty spring cleaning where the entire home is cleansed of these items and more orthodox families will cleanse the pots, pans, silverware, and appliances of anything that was in contact with chametz.
Sephardic Jews who are descendants of the jews forcefully exiled from Spain or Spharad(the hebrew word for spain) have different traditions than Ashkenazi Jews of Western and Eastern Europe. The Sephardim will often eat rice and legume dishes whereas these foods are prohibited by most ashkenazi Jews.
There are many special ingredients and dishes that are celebrated at the seder table on the ceremonial seder plate, but this the matzoh over thousands of years, along with alternate starches such as potato, are used during the holiday as the basis of many dishes.
Amongst them are cakes and famous dishes such as matzoh brei where the matzoh is dipped in egg and fried.
One of my favorite ways to use matzoh is with dessert.
My all time favorite favorite kosher for passover dessert is stupid easy to make. My mother was never from the bakers growing up so we never expected anything homemade for dessert at our seder.
One year our family friend Ora was staying with us and whipped out this no bake chocolate matzoh cake recipe.
This is super fun to make with kids, if you're a novice baker, extremely lazy, busy or just have a bunch of leftovers and want to play in the kitchen post seder.
You simply break up the matzoh, moisten it lightly with sweet red wine which you have plenty of because let's face it, who wants to throw back tons of concord grape wine, then you melt your fat, water and chocolate, mix that up with the eggs, cacao powder and sugar and add a splash of rum for good measure. Dark or white is fine.
You mix that up with the matzoh and into the fridge it goes.
What you'll find with this recipe is a slightly altered version. I use butter instead of margarine, because I can't use that stuff. Please feel free to do so if you keep kosher as this is the original way Ora does it. I use a little less water than called for and lastly, instead of moistening the matzoh ahead of time, I throw a small splash of the wine in at the same time I mix in the rum.
I find this keeps this matzoh slightly crisp while the fat from the eggs, sugar and chocolate make this gooey goodness that holds the whole thing together. Chocolate mortar, matzoh bricks if you will. The result is this totally addictive mess that will get devoured at your dinner table or after sneaking back to the fridge for seconds and thirds...Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours!-D
Serving Size: Serves 4-6
6 plain, unsalted matzohs
Sweet Kosher red wine(such as Kedem or manischewitz concord grape), for moistening
2 sticks unsalted butter (Ora uses margarine)
1/8 cup or 25 ml water
5.5 oz. or 150 g Bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Cacao powder
2 tsp. rum, dark or white
½ cup, chopped walnuts (optional)
Break the matzoh into small pcs. (do not crush or make too fine) and place in a large mixing bowl. Eyeball a few tsps. of sweet red kosher wine and pour just enough on to lightly moisten the matzohs*.
In a small pot, melt the margarine or butter, water and chocolate over medium low heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, cacao powder and rum and slowly pour chocolate mixture into eggs and sugar. Mix well.
Combine all and fold in the nuts, if using. Place in a round cake pan or square baking dish and refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares and serve.
Cook's Note: *I have made this recipe a number of times and used a few tbsps. To realy lightly moisten the matzoh and have also used just a very small splash of wine while folding in the nuts, maybe 1 ½-2 tsp. I prefer the latter version for a more crisp, less sweet, less manishewitzy tasting cake and do prefer it.