Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chocolate caramel crackers... take 2


Sister #2 has been feeling a bit at odds with the universe, which seems to be throwing everything it's got at her. To top it all off, this week she wound up in the hospital with a bad case of strep throat. She's on the mend, but a care package is in order, so today I put on my apron and got to baking. First up was a batch of lemon bread, a family favorite and something that keeps (and ships) well.

The other half of the care package was another batch of the chocolate caramel crackers I made earlier this week, but this time I departed a bit from Deb's recipe. Since the changes I made were rather substantial, I've decided to post my version of the recipe in full. The other post will be updated with a link to this one.

My main problem with the recipe in its original form was that when I made it, the caramel didn't turn out properly. I don't know if I stirred it too much, boiled it too briefly, or if it just wasn't my day for caramel. Whatever the cause, I boned up on caramel- and toffee-making, and decided to make some adjustments (hewing largely to this recipe) that I thought might give me better results.

The first change was in the ingredients: instead of all brown sugar, I used half white/granulated sugar and half brown sugar. I also added a couple of tablespoons of water, and incorporated the salt at the beginning of cooking rather than at the end. Next, I employed a candy thermometer and rather than boiling the mixture for a prescribed amount of time, I let it boil until it reached the hard crack stage, 300F. Furthermore, instead of all the stirring that Deb recommends, I mostly left the caramel alone. I only stirred it a bit now and again to make sure that things were homogeneous. Finally, instead of keeping the matzoh + caramel in the oven for 15 minutes, I only left it in there until it looked like the caramel had oozed through the matzo appropriately, which was about 8-10 minutes for me.

The result was a rich, toffee-like candy with a satisfying crunch, miles better than the first batch. I think Sister #2 will like it.

Recipe below the fold.

Chocolate Toffee Crackers

Yield: Makes one sheet pan's worth of candy


  1. matzoh or saltine crackers to fill a rimmed baking sheet, matzo cut to fit if necessary
  2. 1 cup (1/2 pound, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
  3. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, as you wish)
  5. large pinch of salt
  6. 2 tablespoons water
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chips or chopped
  9. 3/4 cup nut(s) of your choice, sliced or chopped as appropriate, toasted if desired (I recommend almonds or pistachios)
  10. coarse salt for sprinkling (probably overkill if you're using saltines)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a large (11x17") rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, including the sides, then place a sheet of parchment paper over the foil.
  3. Arrange matzoh or crackers so that they cover the bottom of the baking sheet, breaking if necessary to fill the sheet. I recommend Deb's tip of pressing a serrated knife between perforations, not on them, in order to create neat edges.
  4. In a medium heavy saucepan set over medium heat, combine butter, sugars, water, and pinch salt, stirring occasionally until butter has melted.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil. Affix candy thermometer to side of pan, ensuring that the thermometer's tip does not touch the bottom of the pan. Boil gently, stirring only rarely and brushing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed, until thermometer reads 300F, or hard crack stage. Meanwhile, measure out the vanilla and have it handy.
  6. Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla, being careful of hot splatter.
  7. Quickly pour mixture over matzoh on baking sheet, using spatula to spread it more or less evenly.
  8. Bake matzoh and caramel until caramel starts to bubble, 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it--you don't want the caramel to burn.
  9. Remove pan from oven and scatter chocolate over caramel. Let stand 5 minutes, or until chocolate has melted, then use an offset spatula to spread chocolate evenly over caramel.
  10. Sprinkle with coarse salt and nuts, and let cool.
  11. When chocolate has set, break crackers into pieces. Store in an air-tight container for up to 10 days.


  1. If you're feeling impatient, you can help the chocolate along by placing the pan in the fridge after you've added the nuts and such.
  2. I've used nuts here, but you could use all sorts of things: David Lebovitz suggests cacao nibs, and I bet some dried fruit would be lovely.