Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries

Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Kosher Dessert Recipe

Most Jewish Americans grew up eating and drinking Manischewitz products. From grape wine to gefilte fish, Manischewitz has been an integral part of the Jewish holidays for over a century. You might be surprised to learn that it all started with matzo. In March of 1888, Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz turned to his wife and said “I’m going to bake matzos this year.” Previously matzo had been baked in synagogues, but times were changing. The Jewish community in the United States was growing steadily, and the timing was right for independent matzo bakers to set up shops of their own. Rabbi Manischewitz’s hope when opening a small bakery in Cincinnati, Ohio was to provide his close friends and family with unleavened bread during Passover. Word spread quickly, and soon he was selling to many more Jews throughout the city. The bakery achieved success early on. While Rabbi Manischewitz was certainly innovative, he always remained dedicated to the spiritual needs of his customers.

By the end of the 1800s, the high demand for Rabbi Manischewitz’s matzo required that he begin using gas-fired ovens in lieu of the coal-powered ovens used by most Jewish bakers. The new gas ovens allowed him to carefully control baking speeds, which in turn provided him with an opportunity to ensure that the quality of his product was consistent. By March of 1907, the small Manischewitz bakery became a 37,000 square foot factory that produced 20,000 pounds of matzo every day. The company was also the first to package matzo for shipment, which made it possible to send them well beyond Cincinnati to exotic overseas destinations like Japan, France and New Zealand. Rabbi Manischewitz’s operation became a model for kosher bakeries around the world.

Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Kosher Dessert Recipe

After his passing in 1914, Rabbi Manischewitz’s son Jacob took over operations as the new president of the The B. Manischewitz Company. He introduced many significant developments to the matzo-making process, including a very expensive piece of machinery in 1920 that pushed out 12.5 million matzos per day. These machine-produced matzos were identical in their square shape, texture and appearance, making them easily distinguishable as a Manischewitz matzo. In 1932 a second Manischewitz factory was built in Jersey City, New Jersey. This proved to be a smart move, considering its proximity to a much larger Jewish population. Distribution to east coast grocery stores and delis became more efficient and an even larger customer base grew. The success of the new factory made it possible to shut down the Cincinnati factory altogether.

Manischewitz began venturing beyond matzos in 1940 when the Tam-Tam cracker was introduced. In 1954, when the company purchased a processing plant in Vineland, New Jersey, the line of products grew further. Hand-packed favorites like borscht, chicken soup and gefilte fish could now be widely distributed under the Manischewitz name. Today the Manischewitz Company produces hundreds of kosher products and remains the top matzo producer in the world.

Manischewitz started with matzo, so it seems fitting that my second “Thanksgivukah” recipe for the company be made with their famous matzo meal (ground matzo squares). Who says you need to wait for Passover to enjoy matzo? It’s a great substitute for breadcrumbs year-round, and I recently discovered it makes a delicious topping for a fruit crisp. This simple and crave-worthy recipe for Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries can be made dairy or pareve. It’s so easy to put together, a seasonal and scrumptious option for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or just because. Who can resist the power of a warm, freshly baked fruit crisp? Add a scoop of ice cream and prepare to swoon!

**A quick reminder before dessert – to celebrate Thanksgivukah, Manischewitz is hosting an online recipe contest with a $1,000 prize. Like” the Manischewitz page on Facebook for more details (official rules here). The contest deadline has been extended to November 17, which means you have some extra time to get those last-minute recipes turned in! Meanwhile, check out these fabulous Thanksgivukah links from Manischewitz:

Manischewitz Official Thanksgivukah Site

Hilarious Thanksgiving-Hanukkah Rap Battle

Manischewitz Facebook Page

This post was sponsored by Manischewitz. Thank you for supporting my sponsors, they help me to share more free recipes and food history with you!

Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Kosher Dessert Recipe

Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries

Filing Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 bag (12 oz) cranberries- fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp minute tapioca
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Topping Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Manischewitz matzo meal
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, almonds or walnuts
  • 8 tbsp chilled unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche for serving, if desired (use a dairy free ice cream to keep this dessert pareve)

You will also need

  • 9 x 13 baking dish, mixing bowl, food processor or pastry blender, non-stick cooking spray, cookie sheet
Total Time: 1 - 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 12-15 servings
Kosher Key: Dairy or Pareve
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss together all filling ingredients and stir gently till combined. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes.
  • Matzo Streusel Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Dessert RecipeMeanwhile, in a food processor, combine the first 7 topping ingredients - matzo meal, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Pulse a few times till ingredients are blended.
  • Matzo Streusel Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Dessert RecipeAdd nuts and unsalted butter or margarine pieces to the processor. Continue to pulse till the mixture is combined and crumbly. Do not over-process-- you want some texture to the nuts and bits of butter in the mix. If you don't have a processor, you can instead mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the butter mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender. Work the butter into the mixture till a crumbly texture forms.
  • Matzo Streusel Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Dessert RecipeGrease the baking dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Pour filling mixture into your baking dish and spread it in an even layer.
  • Matzo Streusel Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Dessert RecipeSprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the fruit filling. Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet - this will catch any overflow of fruit juice in the oven.
  • Matzo Streusel Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries  - Seasonal Dessert RecipePut the crisp and cookie sheet in the oven and let it bake for 50-60 minutes, turning once during baking, till the crisp topping is lightly browned.
  • Remove the crisp from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve the crisp warm topped with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche, if desired.
  • Store any leftover crisp in the refrigerator. Reheat before serving.
  • Matzo Crisp with Pear, Apple and Cranberries - Seasonal Kosher Dessert RecipeNote: You could also make this for Passover, though it may be hard to find minute tapioca with a Passover kosher hechsher if you're strict about hechshers. Technically tapioca would be allowed on Passover, but minute tapioca that is certified for Passover can be hard to find.

Research Sources:

History.” Manischewitz 120. The Manischewitz Company, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Our History.” Manischewitz. The Manischewitz Company, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Sarna, Jonathan D. “How Matzah Became Square: Manischewitz and the Development of Machine-Made Matzah in the United States.” Brandeis University. Graduate School Of Jewish Studies Touro College, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Comments (30)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    The recipe sounds yummy! I think I will try it. I will not, however use any Manischewitz products. I sent them an email recently asking why they have downsized some of their products like noodles. My old tried and true recipes from my mom no longer work. Their answer was rude and snippy. The person actually lied and said they have never downsized. I don’t like to be lied to and don’t feel valued as a customer. The person could have at least been honest and polite. Anyhoo – sorry I am venting right now. Ok – I am done. I will try the recipe using a different brand of matzo meal. All of your recipes I have tried are so delicious. Happy Thanksgivukkah! :)

  2. Pinned this, because it sounds heavenly. To make this kosher l’pesach, couldn’t you use potato starch instead of the tapioca?

    1. Hi Beth! I have never used potato starch as a fruit thickener in a dessert like this, so I’m not sure how that would work. You should never boil potato starch because it becomes goopy, so I would worry that as the filling gets very hot during baking and starts to bubble, it might have an adverse effect on the filling texture. If you test it out, please let us know the results!

  3. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori I just love stopping in here. I always come away with a new perspective on life, I learn things I didn’t know and I get to stare at gorgeous photos of food. You amaze girl. Happy Thanksgivukkh! xx

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    what a fantastic dish! easy to prepare, and came out delicious! Most amazing (for me) is that my home-made version looked like the picture of yours. A huge accomplishment!

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this for dessert for Christmas and it was a big hit. The tartness of the cranberries makes it much less sickly sweet than a typical fruit pie or crisp. Delicious!

    1. Hi Susanna– try 1 1/2 tsp of potato starch. It won’t have exactly the same texture as the tapioca, but it should thicken the filling nicely. I wouldn’t omit a thickener completely, or you risk the crisp filling becoming too runny.

    2. I made it today and it’s so so good!
      I used arrowroot instead of tapioca, (not sure if it’s kosher or Passover, but I just wanted to make it) and it worked perfect! I used 3 tablespoon ratio

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