Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Crowd Pleaser

So, I did a lot of baking today. Three different types of cookies, all new recipes (from Martha's Cookie book). All three turned out amazing and I'm planning to make more of each in the next couple of days. But I also made something else which has pretty much become my go-to Christmas standby year after year so we're going to talk about that first.

Like the Taco Dip, this Saltine Cracker Toffee is something that I just can't seem to avoid every Christmas. It's also not exactly an original recipe (you can find hundreds of versions online) but I suppose I can be credited with having discovered it before the rest of my friends and family years ago so it's become sort of "mine"; and as much as I love trying out new recipes each Christmas, I know that even if every other batch is a flop the Toffee will be there as my backup, and regardless will be the clear favourite in everyone's Christmas baskets. It's easy, insanely addicting and has a whole lot of butter. Plus, it's an interesting point of conversation as no one will believe there are CRACKERS in this stuff. There really are - and they are the key to what makes the Toffee soooo good. Salty and sweet never tasted so good.

Cracker Toffee
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 sleeve saltine crackers*
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips**
3/4 cups chopped almonds, pecans or whatever other nut/topping you desire

* (SALTED. Do not, under any circumstances use unsalted crackers. It will seriously ruin the Toffee)

** Now, I know there is a lot of fancy chocolate out there these days. But I really find with standbys like this they really just taste best with good old Chipits or Hershey chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit, or 175 degrees Celsius

1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. You can also be a risk-taker and try using aluminum foil or heavily greasing the pan, but don't call me when you're trying to chip toffee out of the pan or eating foil. The first time I tried this on a Silpat I almost cried I was so happy about how the toffee practically came off the pan in one piece. I actually tried parchment paper for the first time this year and it was even better. Line cookie sheet with crackers in one layer, making sure none overlap and edges are as close together as possible. This may involve cutting some crackers in half to make it fit.

2. Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a small pot or saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for about three minutes (it should have turned a light caramel colour and will be bubbling up quite a bit)

3. Pour butter/sugar mixture over crackers and spread evenly with a spoon. Don't worry about getting it perfectly smooth or over every cracker bit, the mixture will continue to spread and even out in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until bubbly.

4. Place cookie sheet on a cooling rack and add chocolate chips. Wait about 5 minutes, and then spread the now-melted chocolate chips over the toffee layer. Sprinkle evenly with chopped almonds or nuts.

5. Cool until solid in the fridge, freezer or garage (assuming it is winter and you live somewhere with four seasons). Probably about a half hour. Break into pieces and enjoy!

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