Chocolate Toffee Cracker Bark

Last night at a bar I overheard a woman informing her friends that as of yesterday, at least 30% of all Americans had not yet bought even one Christmas gift.  We’re about to take care of that and make you the gift giving hero.  No one will need to know you invested about one hour.

If you love it when people squeak and giggle and cheer and hug and kiss upon receipt of your gift, make this Bark.  Yes, this is that recipe for the “really yummy, kinda cheating candy because you start with Saltine cracker blobs” that no one knows quite how to describe or categorize and goes ga-ga at both the sight and taste of it.  Please don’t let the thought of “Toffee” scare you away.  No candy thermometers here.  Just melt and cook butter and sugar for a couple minutes, pour onto crackers and bake for a few more.  The key step is the addition of baking soda to the butter-sugar mixture.  This ensures your caramel will harden, allowing you to break up the entity into beautifully rugged and uneven pieces of bark.  Leave out the baking soda and your toffee will remain a soft caramel – a gooey mess that will not break into irregularly shaped pieces and neither you nor your fillings will want to deal with.  Trust me.  I made seven batches the other day and forgot the baking soda in one batch.  Those in the household who wait in line for the dregs are turning these down.

Toppings are up to you.  I’ve noted those that I like, fit the season and my budget.  A nod to the holiday with festive green pistachios and red dried cherries.  I’m a coffee girl so those chocolate covered beans fit right in.  Don’t skip the light sprinkle of salt on top.  These are not salty and the balance is needed.

A note about packaging your treats.  My very generic, conventional grocery store now stocks a decent selection of individual, plastic gift bags.  While you’re stocking up on fresh Saltines (the ones from your last flu are stale by now), check out the baking section and aisle displays.  You may be surprised what you’ll find and can truly do all your gift shopping in one stop.  Who would’ve thought you could do this while stocking up on food for the week?

I wish you a wonderful holiday and look forward to cooking, eating and sharing together in the new year.  Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Filed in: Candy, Sweets

Chocolate Toffee Cracker Bark

Never enough, but could serve up to 12

8 ounces Saltine crackers (about 40)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup toasted chopped nuts (hazelnuts or pistachios are yum)

1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

2 tablespoons coffee beans, crushed (chocolate covered work well too – found them in a the bulk aisle)

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (Maldon is a fave)

  1. Get ready. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a half sheet pan with foil, then line base with parchment cut to fit.
  2. Line bottom of prepared baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts.
  3. Make the caramel. Melt butter, sugar and honey in saucepan over medium heat and cook until boiling. Allow to boil 3 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat; whisk in salt and vanilla. Stir in baking soda.
  4. Pour over crackers. Immediately pour over crackers. Spread caramel mixture to cover crackers completely.
  5. Bake. Place in oven and bake 6 – 7 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes; spread chocolate in even layer across caramel. Immediately top with an even layer of nuts, dried fruit, coffee beans and salt.
  6. Cool and serve. Allow to cool. Chill until chocolate is hardened, about 10 minutes. Break into pieces and go crazy. (Make ahead note: Crackers will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and freeze well for up to 1 month.)