Got leftover matzo? These easy, flavorful bars are a great way to transform them. Matzo has a wonderful blank-canvas quality and distinctive browned edges that make it an excellent candidate for dessert. Here, matzo comes together with a heap of toasted sesame seeds, sweet almond paste and honey, bits of citrus zest and a splash of vanilla. The result is a delicious and decadent treat in a casual format, with a lightweight crunch that's reminiscent of baklava.
This recipe first appeared on my website, buttersugarflowers.com —ButterSugarFlowers
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place sesame seeds in a 9 x 13-inch cake pan and bake for 20 minutes, stopping halfway through to stir and turn seeds. Remove from oven and let seeds cool in pan.
Meanwhile, break matzo into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces in a large bowl; set bowl aside. Grate almond paste with a standard sized grater; set aside. Zest oranges with a fine grater; set zest aside. Juice oranges over a sieve until you have 1/3 cup strained juice (one orange may be enough).
When the sesame seed pan is cool enough to handle, pour the toasted seeds into the matzo. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with foil; grease the foil, set pan aside nearby, then grease a wooden spoon for easy mixing. Measure out the peanut butter (if using), honey, and vanilla so they are ready to quickly add to the pot.
In a large pot over low-medium heat, melt the butter. Add the honey and salt, stirring gently. Add the grated almond paste (and peanut butter if using), and constantly stir for a few full minutes, until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Turn off heat and carefully add strained juice and the vanilla (mixture is very hot and will spatter). Mix until just even in consistency.
Quickly add matzo, toasted sesame seeds, and zest to the pot. Mix vigorously from the bottom of the pan so that all crackers and seeds get coated with honey mixture. Transfer to lined pan and push down on it very firmly, letting matzo break as you create an even, well-packed bar. Smooth the top of bars with a heatproof spatula, applying plenty of pressure.
Chill the pan until bars are cool and firm, then use the tin foil to remove the bars from pan. Transfer to cutting board and carefully remove foil. Using a sharp knife and plenty of pressure, cut the cold slab into quarters; cut each quarter into 8 slices to make 32 bars. For best results, transfer cut bars to paper cupcake liners; this makes for easy serving and eating. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, eating within 3 days. These bars taste best chilled or at room temperature.
**Swapping half the almond paste for peanut butter will make for a more frugal, less sweet recipe with a familiar and delicate peanut-y essence.