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 Director
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. 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. 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. Then all you need to do is let it cool, bash it into pieces and make yourself and anyone around you very happy. 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cool completely on the countertop or in the fridge, then bash into pieces.