If you haven't yet discovered our contributing editor Julie Van Rosendaal's charming food site, Dinner with Julie, bookmark it now. She's a wealth of ideas around this time of year (or any time of year)—and I blame her for my now-annual obsession with Christmas Cracker, which I first learned about from her site. I'm told it's a universal treat at this time of year—but few people make it as beautifully delicious as Julie. She's graciously shared her take, below.—Anicka Quin, Editorial DirectorCrack-3

There’s a reason everyone adores Christmas crackers (also known as Christmas crack) – it hits all the right notes – sweet-salty-crunchy-chewy-buttery-chocolatey – and is easier to make than any batch of cookies. Sold? I’m sorry. And you’re welcome.Crack-4 The formula is all over the interwebs: lay about a sleeve and a half of (salted!) saltines on a parchment-lined sheet. Bring a cup each of butter and brown sugar to a boil – at first it will look like it’s swimming in melted butter, but after a minute of stirring, will look like proper caramel. Let it bubble for 3 minutes, then pour it over the crackers.

Slide it into a 350F oven for 10-12 minutes (watch toward the end to make sure it’s not burning), until it’s deep golden, then pull it out and scatter a handful or two of chocolate chips overtop. About a cup and a half. Crack-Collage Leave them for a minute or two, then spread the chocolate (which will be perfectly melted and not scorched or seized) over the caramel. That’s it. Crack-5 Then all you need to do is let it cool, bash it into pieces and make yourself and anyone around you very happy. Crack-9 Funnily enough, I went to a party tonight at which a friend made a batch using Breton crackers, which made them sort of nutty/tweedy, but I still like salty saltines best. Another friend made some for another party a couple weeks ago – it was my official reminder of how much I love the stuff, and that I should bring it back into my yearly repertoire – and she doubled the caramel in hers. I heartily endorse this. Actually, for a large rimmed sheet pan and 6×8 rows of standard saltines, I did 1 1/4 cups of butter to 1 1/4 cups of packed brown sugar, and it was pretty perfect. 

Originally published December 2015

Christmas Cracker Recipe

Courtesy Julie Van Rosendaal, Dinner with Julie

Ingredients

1 1/2 sleeves salted saltine crackers
1 1/4 cups butter
1 1/4 cups packed golden brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped dark or semi-sweet chocolate, or chocolate chips (approximately one bag)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, foil or a silicone mat to prevent clean-up after (and to make it easier to get the crack out); line with saltine crackers, placing them right together. I wind up with six rows of 8 crackers.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until it goes from looking separated to a more uniform caramel. Let it bubble for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and pour it evenly over the crackers. Spread it with a knife to fill any gaps.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until it's deep golden. Keep an eye on it for the last few minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.
  4.  Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes and then scatter chocolate chips over top, while the caramel is still very warm. Let sit for a few minutes, then spread evenly with a knife.
  5. Cool completely on the countertop or in the fridge, then bash into pieces.