Toffee Saltines

Sweet SaltinesRecipes for this treat – which has various names, including “Christmas Crack” – are everywhere.┬áMy Aunt Liz makes a version that she calls pecan pralines, involving graham crackers, toffee, and pecans. I didn’t have enough graham crackers to make that version, so I’ve used the standard saltine instead.

The great thing about this treat is that it can be customized however you like. I’ve created both a plain, toffee and pecan-only version and a chocolate version, the photo of which appears below. You could add toffee bits, butterscotch chips, various nuts, or other candies if you’d like.

The non-chocolate version is for my mom, who will be coming to Christmas dinner later today. She’s been known to arrive at my house after running various errands in need of a snack, and her go-to question is always “got any crackers?” Merry Christmas, Mum.

Note: the following recipe creates a “half and half” pan of toffee saltines – half with chocolate, and half without.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • About 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray very lightly with cooking or baking spray.

Place crackers on the baking sheet in a single layer.

In a medium saucepan, melt brown sugar and butter, stirring frequently. Bring to a full, rolling boil; once mixture reaches a full, rolling boil, allow it to boil for three minutes without stirring.

Remove from heat and pour over crackers, spreading carefully with a spatula to fully cover.

Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle half of the crackers with pecans. Sprinkle remaining half with chocolate chips and let stand for a minute or two so the chips begin to melt. Spread the chocolate on the remaining half of the crackers, then sprinkle with pecans.

Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Sweet Saltines with Chocolate

Heath Bit Bars

heath bit barsThis week at the office, my purchase of a Twix precipitated a discussion about favorite candy bars. There was great debate; some folks are Milky Way and Three Musketeers fans, while others (including me) favor Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers bars, or those ingenious Take 5 bars that include a pretzel, caramel, peanut butter, peanuts, and milk chocolate all in one delicious little package.

I’m also a big fan of the Heath bar, and with that ind mind, I picked up some Heath Milk Chocolate Bits in the baking aisle yesterday. There’s a great recipe on the bag for Heath bit peanut butter cookies that I fully intend to bake sometime, but because I also had the Twix bar on my mind, I decided to make a treat that would sort of combine the best of both worlds: a bar with a shortbread-like crust, milk chocolate chips, and Heath bits.

This recipe is adapted from one that I found on the Hershey’s website that used plain toffee bits, rather than Heath Milk Chocolate Bits. Next time, I’d like to sprinkle on some chopped pecans, or maybe even chopped salted peanuts, to add another dimension of flavor. You’re supposed to wait until these bars have cooled completely before you cut them, but as you can see by the glossy chocolate in the photo above, I simply couldn’t wait.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce package milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Heath Milk Chocolate Bits

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter at medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy.

Add brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well.

Add flour and mix until combined.

Press crust mixture into the bottom of a 10 x 15 x 1 jelly roll pan, smoothing with an offset spatula as best you can for even browning.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with chocolate chips. After about 5 minutes, spread melting chips with an offset spatula to cover the crust completely. Sprinkle on Heath Milk Chocolate Bits and let stand for just a moment, then spread with an offset spatula.

Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Toffee Chocolate Matzoh

matzoh brittleMost people call this “matzoh crack” for its highly addictive quality. Some call it matzoh brittle, or just chocolate-covered matzoh. Apparently, whatever you call it, it’s delicious, and enough to make a sugar-fasting gal break her fast (although I haven’t done so).

This treat is incredibly easy to make; I’ve seen it with regular saltine crackers as well as matzah, and I wonder how graham crackers would fare. My Aunt Liz makes a wonderful cracker/toffee/pecan creation at Christmas that I would swear uses graham crackers, so I’d like to give that a try.

Like many other treats, you can dress this one up as much as you like, or leave it plain and simple. Some recipes call for chopped walnuts or pecans to be sprinkled on after the chocolate chips melt, while others encourage a sprinkling of sea salt. Mike requested this plain version and declared it very tasty.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 sheets matzoh (the Passover kind, not regular)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11 x 17 rimmed baking sheet with foil, extending well over and completely covering each side. Line the bottom of the sheet with parchment paper, cutting the parchment to fit.

Place matzoh in a single layer in the bottom of the baking sheet; you’ll need to break some of the matzoh into pieces to fit in one single layer.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar and cook until bubbly, stirring frequently. Once the mixture begins to boil, continue boiling for three minutes, stirring well; the mixture will thicken slightly as it cooks.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt, then immediately pour over matzoh. Use an offset spatula to spread toffee evenly over the crackers, as it will begin to set quickly.

Bake for 15 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the toffee doesn’t begin to burn. Remove from the oven and cover with chocolate chips; allow the chips to melt for a few minutes, then spread the melted chips in an even layer over the matzoh.

Allow to cool completely, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container; we put ours in the fridge to keep the chocolate from re-melting.

Toffee Bars

toffee barsAlthough I’ve eaten toffee many times, until today I didn’t know how it was made. Similar to caramel, toffee is created by caramelizing sugar (or molasses) with butter and bringing it to “hard crack stage,” a term employed in candy making that equates to about 300 degrees.

My experience with toffee has usually come in the form of the Heath bar, a wonderful concoction of toffee covered in chocolate. These bars taste a great deal like Heath bars and are easier to make than one might think at first glance, as they employ sweetened condensed milk and butter to create the toffee layer.

Just a few tips: you’ll want to be sure to cut the bars and remove them from the pan within minutes of pouring on the chocolate layer, as I can imagine them being difficult to pry out otherwise. I found that using a small offset spatula to spread the chocolate layer worked out well; you’ll also want to use a small offset spatula to remove the bars from the pan once you’ve cut them.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour

For the toffee layer:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate layer:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 teaspoons hot water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the crust; in a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, until a soft dough forms. Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

While crust is baking, prepare toffee layer; in a medium saucepan, combine butter and sweetened condensed milk and cook over medium heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; immediately pour and spread over hot crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove baking dish from oven and allow to cool for just a few minutes while you prepare the chocolate layer.

For the chocolate layer, in a medium saucepan, combine butter and chocolate over low heat and allow to melt, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons hot water. Stir until very smooth; if necessary, add 2 additional teaspoons hot water, 1 at a time, to reach a very pourable consistency. Spread over warm bars.

Using a very sharp knife, cut bars and immediately remove from pan. Cool on a wire rack.