Friday, September 21, 2012

Cracked Out on Cracker Toffee

I have cooked several things lately that I am excited to share with you: Pulled BBQ,  Black Bean Torte,  Homemade Sushi, Chicken Salad, Rosemary Parmesan Muffins and thick French Toast, to name a few.  I was deliberating about which should be this week's post and then Cracker Toffee (A.K.A. Crack) resurfaced in my life and I can't stop thinking about it.  It quickly rose to the top of the "to post" list, when my co-worker Patsy asked for the recipe.  So, here's what happened: I innocently went to a baby shower last week for my friend Stephanie.  I knew the treats being served would be delicious, as the hosts are all great cooks.  And then I saw it. There on the serving table was one of my favorite confections: Cracker Toffee.  I love it and haven't had it in a long time! I ate one piece, and a slice of poundcake with Strawberry Coulis, along with caramel corn, and banana pudding adorably served in repurposed glass baby food jars.

As people were leaving, Gretchen (the host) had plastic bags for people to pack up goodies to take with them.  Of course, I obliged and took a couple of toffee bars, thinking I would share them with my family. But somehow that never happened.  Later that night I ate one for a "midnight snack", and broke off a piece of the other one during breakfast the next morning and inhaled the rest of that broken one with my lunch.  I then went to the store to buy the ingredients I was lacking to make some at home.  I was already planning for our social work dinner on Friday, where I was going to make Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars and I thought, with the big crowd we were expecting,  it might be good to make an additional treat.  I immediately thought of the Cracker Toffee Bars.  They are easy, would surely be a crowd pleaser, and would give me an excuse to make them!  There are many versions of these.  As I looked through cookbooks and did online searches, I determined that no two recipes looked alike and yet you really just can't go wrong.  I mean: butter, sugar, crackers, toffee, chocolate, nuts.  Yum, yum or yum – any way you choose.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's version, since that's the recipe Gretchen used.  You can't go wrong starting with Martha. Hers are called salted toffee chocolate squares. She uses graham crackers as the base, other recipes use Saltines.  I think I prefer Saltine crackers, because the salty cracker gives it such a nice salty/sweet taste and great texture.

Crack might be the right description of this treat.  It really is highly addictive, not good for you, and is euphoric.  Crack-like, you know? (I don't technically know from experience, just from what I've heard and read.) However, this dessert is not illegal and won't ruin you, or send you into a life of crime, or land you in jail like Crack Crack will.

So I made it.  It's easy and pretty and yummy.  We all loved it.  My co-workers especially.  My co-worker Lorraina, who is able to resist desserts with her great willpower, said it looked so appealing that she couldn't resist.  After eating a piece she told me she loved me for it.  Debbie and Patsy both ate it with affirming nods and moans.

My co-worker, Patsy, loved them enough to ask for the recipe the next day.  To which Lorraina replied, DO NOT give me the recipe... I need to NOT have the recipe!  A few minutes later, when Patsy and I were talking about variations we could make, Lorraina swung back into the conversation and said, "while I was not thinking about those bars, I thought coconut might be a nice addition".  I agree wholeheartedly.

So, I guess it would be responsible to provide a warning alongside the recipe.

Now that I have done my due diligence to warn you, here is the recipe:
Cracker Toffee
48 saltine crackers (or enough to cover a large baking sheet in one layer) [you can use graham crackers if you would rather have a sweeter base]
1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits (you can use the ones with chocolate on them or without)
1½ cups coarsely chopped natural sliced almonds, toasted
½ cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (or use salted butter and reduce the amount of coarse salt for sprinkling)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Coarsely chop almonds

toast for a few minutes (until they begin to turn golden)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching

Sprinkle toffee bits and almonds over crackers
bring sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high heat –
Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is syrupy (thicker), 2 minutes
Immediately pour over crackers and bake

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips and a little coarse salt over crackers
Cool, slice and break apart into pieces

Preheat oven to 350.
Coarsely chop almonds. Place on a baking sheet and toast for a few minutes (until they begin to turn golden).
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching. Sprinkle toffee bits and almonds over crackers.
 In a small saucepan, bring sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is syrupy (thicker), 2 minutes. Immediately pour over crackers.
 Bake until liquid topping is bubbling, 12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate and a little coarse salt over crackers.
 With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 2-inch squares. Let cool completely on sheet on a wire rack. OR Let cool completely and then break (or cut) into pieces. Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week… if they aren’t gobbled up before then.

*I was trying to speed the cooling process along and decided to put it in the refrigerator to cool.  The challenge was that the chocolate chips hadn't bonded into the bars enough at that point and some of them broke free when I cut them. So, it would be best to cool on the counter.

*You can use the toffee bits with or without chocolate-
I used chocolate covered because that's what was available at the store, but either would be great.

*Patsy and I want to try making them with mini chocolate chips...for more chocolate in every bite! 

*Make them when you can give some away or serve them at an event,  so that they don't take you down. 


  1. OH YUMMY! I haven't had this since last Christmas. I think I will have people over soon so I have an excuse to make this. (And to have others around to eat them so they don't all end up in my belly). :)

  2. Yum! Thanks for giving me a make-ahead idea for community group snack in a few weeks. I can make these over the weekend and hide them somewhere to save until Wed.! :-)

  3. At the social work dinner, I wanted to take one of these home to try later (since I was so full), and Debbie insisted I would want more, and filled a bag with five pieces. As usual, she was right :)

  4. work dinners! I miss them so much. This toffee treat looks amazing. I made your toffee dip for my mom over the weekend. She loves toffee and will love this recipe too!

  5. Oh crack bars! You are so delicious!

  6. Becca, I love that you talk to them too! :)