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.
WARNING: THIS TOFFEE IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE AND SHOULD BE EATEN WITH CAUTION.
Now that I have done my due diligence to warn you, here is the recipe:
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
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.
*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.