I have a confession to make…I actually like matzo! Most Jews I know complain every Passover of the cardboard, constipation inducing “cracker” that we force ourselves to eat for a week to remember our ancestors and the bread that didn’t have time to rise in their escape from oppression. However, I actually secretly look forward to this time of year and savor all the delicious ways I can conjure up to enjoy matzo. From simple matzo with whipped butter and salt, to matzo with cream cheese and lox, matzo pizza, matzo with nutella, matzo brei, and of course, chocolate covered matzo (although pretty much anything tastes good covered in chocolate).
Matzo love aside, it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that Passover is one of my favorite holidays with all of its delicious foods and opportunities for entertaining (aka the seder). I have been making the same menu since 2006 (from that year’s Bon Appetit Passover special) but I like to try to add something new every year to mix it up. This year in anticipation of having 15 guests, I decided to make an extra dessert and was determined to come up with a Passover themed ice cream. My first idea was to make a charoset inspired treat with Manischewitz ice cream as the base but some of my friends were strongly opposed for some reason…(it’s happening next year!). My second idea was a little less experimental: vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered matzo. After getting the OK from my friends I found a recipe for matzo croccante (aka matzo brittle or chocolate and caramel covered matzo) and got to work.
This ice cream uses Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s recipe for vanilla ice cream as the base and then adds the matzo croccante as well as additional chocolate and toasted almonds. I recommend using different chocolates for the croccante and for the additional chocolate to add different flavors- I used milk chocolate for this.
One disclaimer is that my vanilla ice cream base is not technically kosher for Passover, depending on how strict you are, since it has corn starch and corn syrup in it. The corn syrup can easily be substituted with honey or glucose and arrowroot or potato starch would be possible substitutes for the corn starch. Alternatively, you can use any vanilla ice cream of your choosing.
I had so much food at my Passover dinner (must be a Jewish maternal instinct) that I almost forgot to serve the ice cream! It turned out to be the surprise hit, though, and I may be forced to make it again next year!
Chocolate Covered Matzo Ice Cream
Matzo-Almond Croccante (from Bon Appetit)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
5 sheets matzo
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 72% cacao), melted
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (such as Maldon)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Place matzo on sheet in a single layer, breaking as needed and overlapping slightly, leaving no gaps.
Stir sugar, margarine, honey, and 1/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is a deep amber color, 13–15 minutes. Pour caramel evenly over matzo. Immediately sprinkle almonds over. Let cool.
Drizzle melted chocolate over caramel. Sprinkle salt over. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Break into small bite-sized pieces.
In the meantime make the ice cream.
Vanilla Ice Cream (from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream)
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean seeds and bean in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Remove vanilla bean. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Vanilla ice cream
3 oz chocolate of your choosing, chopped
3 oz toasted almonds
1/2 of the matzo- almond croccante from above
Transfer ice cream to a bowel and stir in matzo-almond croccante, chocolate and almonds.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Serve with extra matzo croccante as the garnish!