Daily Archives: March 27, 2010

Salted Butter Caramel & White Chocolate Matzo

Because I’m totally Jewish and this is an appropriate recipe for me to obsess over? Last April when Deb (of the smitten kitchen) posted her recipe for chocolate caramel crack(ers)–that is, crackers that are crackly and addictive like crack–I made them immediately. Being a gentile and all, this was my first experience with matzo and I was hoooked. I didn’t even look to see if matzo was reserved for certain days or if there was a specific thing you were supposed to eat them with. I just unabashedly munched. Matzo is sort of like a saltine cracker with a way better texture. I, like Deb apparently, love to eat the cuisines of other religions. Last year I fasted for the last day of Ramadan and went to a big dinner at school that was catered by all the Middle Eastern restaurants in town. Other than almost passing out from not eating (I have low blood pressure and sugar…and according to Chad I get SUPER cranky when I don’t eat), the whole day was great. I got to eat lots of yummy foods and hear a lot of great speakers and highly-regarded professors speak and pray. It was a cool experience. So I take every opportunity to eat foods from other cultures and religions. Deb’s chocolate caramel crackers are yummy and, yes, addictive. I wanted to make something yummy for the passover season (again because I’m Jewish?) so I made her crackers but with a couple changes.

I was intrigued by David Lebovitz’ description of the white chocolate/caramel flavor combination. So I whipped up some of his salted butter caramel to cover the matzo and microwaved (<–lazy!) some white baking chocolate to pipe over the top. This is easy, delicious, and uhhhhdictive.

Total delicious concept adapted from smittenkitchen who adapted it from David Lebovitz who adapted it from Marcy Goldman. Salted butter caramel adapted from David Lebovitz who is just kind of my favorite person sometimes:

4-6 matzo crackers (I used whole white here just for kicks but it’s better with the regular kind)
3/4 C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher (<-logic!) salt
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 C sugar
4 Tbsp salted butter (or unsalted butter with salt added)
3 squares of white baker’s chocolate
candy thermometer

Arrange matzo crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try to break them so that they completely cover the surface of the sheet.

Heat the cream, vanilla, 2 Tbsp of the butter, and half of the salt in a little saucepan. Keep barely warm. In a separate saucepan (use your copper pots if you have them! they’re best for caramel-makin’) fitted with a candy thermometer melt the sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Stir slightly to avoid hot spots using a spatula or wooden spoon–the most important thing is that it is heat resistant to high heat. Mine is from a restaurant supply store and it’s heat resistant to 600° or something ridiculous like that but I’ve heard good things about le creuset spatulas. Sugar gets HOT so be careful. David Lebovitz has a great caramel-making tip sheet. Heat the sugar to 310° and remove saucepan from heat. I place the whole pot on a trivet next to the stove. Add the cream mixture slowly while stirring constantly. Keeeeeeep stirring until it is all incorporated. You might have big hunks of melted sugar syrup at first but don’t worry, they’ll mix in. Return the pot to the stove and heat to 260°. Remove from heat and add the last two Tbsp of butter and the second 1/2 tsp of salt.

Pour over the crackers and smooth over the tops with the spatula. Work quickly as the caramel will set up really quickly. After spreading the caramel all over the crackers, heat the white chocolate in a dish in the microwave or in a double boiler. Pour into a bag or a piping bag. Cut the tip off of the bag and pipe over the top of the caramel.

Let them cool completely before breaking or cutting into squares. Eat furiously and commence your conversion to Judaism.

Cloth Napkin Tutorial

I hate using paper napkins. I feel wasteful and they don’t hold up well when even a portion of one is used. Yet I never had fabric napkins for everyday. It’s jut not a part of culture in America where we see cloth napkins as reserved for nice restaurants and holiday dinners at home. So I was really fascinated by David Lebovitz’ blog post about the French attitude on cloth napkins. After that I kept my eye out for napkins and found, unsurprisingly, that cloth napkins are expensive. This of course inspired me to make some since they are fabric after all.

I realized while at Shiisa that I would end up making many, many more sets of these. I used regular quilting cotton for these but they are beautiful in linen or a heavier cotton too. One thing to look for is a fabric with a muted or attractive reverse since the backside will be visible. It would be awesome to use reversible fabric too.

For 6 napkins you will need:
1/2 yd fabric (or more if your pattern is tricky)
matching or coordinating thread
fabric shears
fabric pins
sewing machine (no fancy stitches are needed though…even old-timers like mine work for this!)
measuring mat or other like device

Step 1: Cut the fabric into 12-14″ squares. I measured at 12″ and got smallish napkins. The napkins are about 1″ shorter in each direction due to the seams. Do your best to follow the direction of the pattern. I had a stripe to deal with so I was careful to make sure it didn’t go wobbly or seamed on a diagonal. Decide which will be the top of the napkin.

Step 2: Fold in 1/4″ from what will be the top and bottom of the napkins. Pinning is exceedingly important in this project. Pin carefully and make sure the seam is 1/4″ all the way across.

Step 3: Fold those seams over on themselves snugly. Measure again (for good measure-ha!) to make sure the folded seam is also 1/4″.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the sides of the napkin, carefully folding up the pinned top and bottom seams.

Now take a break and eat some raspberry Kookaburra licorice.

Step 5: Sew using coordinating or matching thread. I sewed with the seam to the left of the needle and used the presser foot as my guide. Round the corners squarely by lifting the presser foot, turning the fabric, and lowering the presser foot.

Trim the loose threads and you’re done!…with one napkin. Let’s not joke ourselves and pretend this won’t be tedious project. But if you’re a sewer, you’re probably used to it. If you’re not a sewer, this is a good, simple project to wet your feet.

See how nice the corners look? The napkins are small and perfect for everyday use. For fancy holiday parties it might be best to make BIG napkins because that’s what people are used to. But I don’t see the point in a giant lap tarp for regular dinners and lunches. That means these are quick to whip up too…I made these in one afternoon.

Make some napkins for your house! It will make every meal feel more special which a lot of people say is helpful in losing weight. If you treat eating meals as a positive thing it gives you a good outlook on food. Looking at food as the enemy, the menacing thing that makes you fat, isn’t healthy.

Was that me on a  soapbox? I’ll be done now. Go sew!