Most of my home-baking decisions are based this formula: or a similar one that considers whether or not my coworkers will like the finished product. These Caramel Cracker Bars, while not especially refined, will get devoured in an instant. I brought a tin of eighteen to work today, and i’m pretty sure they were gone within a half-hour.
This is the sort of recipe I love to make on a weeknight. I’ll put on some music or some guilty pleasure TV (in this case, So You Think You Can Dance) and putter around the kitchen. I’ll finish cooking and cleanup within an hour. Once the cookies have cooled, I’ll eat one or two, then package up the rest to freeze or take to work.
I like to have easy, appealing recipes on hand for potlucks, parties, care packages, and christmas cookie assortments. People get really excited when they learn a confection involves crackers. This recipe isn’t complicated, and its has countless variations (ie White Trash Toffee, Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch, Ghetto Toffee, Trailer-Trash Toffee, etc).
In this version, sweetened condensed milk makes the filling chewy- similar to a millionaire’s shortbread. I’d love to see a variation made with dulce de leche. I also wonder if saltines would be an acceptable crust-substitute for other bar cookies…
Caramel Cracker Bars
adapted from Sara Perry’s Holiday Baking
makes 35-40 bars
1 1/4 cups butter, melted, divided
35 Nabisco Premium Saltine crackers
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
One 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
One 12oz package semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% chips)
1 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a 10×15 jelly roll pan with foil. Brush the 1/4 cup melted butter onto the lined pan and line the pan with crackers. (*I didn’tuse the whole 1/4 cup- I just brushed to cover).
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1 cup butter and the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture reaches 248F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the condensed milk. Pour the mixture over the crackers, making sure all are covered.
3. Bake for 10 minutes. The top will be bubbly and brown. Remove from the oven, scatter the chocolate chips over the topping, and allow them to melt for 5 minutes. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread the chocolate over the surface and sprinkle with the nuts. Lightly press the nuts into the chocolate. Freeze until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.
4. Remove from the freezer and invert the pan onto a clean surface. Peel back the foil to reveal the cracker side of the cookies. With a sharp knife, cut the cookies along the cracker outlines. Invert and cut into smaller pieces if desired.
I used a combination of toasted walnuts and almonds, but any will do.
I didn’t have a 10×15 pan, so I used a 13×18 sheet. I made a 6×6 square of crackers, then folded up the foil to make an edge.
The caramel layer was a little thick for my taste- next time I might only use 2/3-3/4 of the mixture.