I wasn't going to make this. Nope, not me. You see I usually like my christmas treats to be complicated and require at least an hour of labor. But then I had my second kid and she hit the terrible twos and now ...well... now I am a lot more open to trying quicker things. But in all honesty I would not have tried this delicious recipe if it wasn't for my all-things-food-person Marium. She made it and raved about it and then I had to. Yes folks, after all that resisting, all it took was someone I think is cool to make it and I turn into a big ol' copycat.
The first time I made it I messed up a little (oops), but by the second I had learnt my lesson. The right sized baking sheet is key, otherwise the whole caramel to cracker ratio is off. The recipe is definitely very very sweet so adding instant coffee to the caramel helped temper that overt sweetness. Also please please stick to semi sweet chocolate or darker, anything sweeter is too much.
You could add anything you want to the top and I toyed with christmas-sprinkes, but then I decided that this delicious delicious beauty didn't need to get any sweeter and I stuck to toasted flaked almonds as suggested by Deb at Smitten Kitchen.
Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
Slightly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
40 Saltine crackers or 1 and a half of a sleeve of Premium Plus salted top crackers
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ - ¾ tsp instant coffee granules
1 ½ cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.
Line the parchment paper square with the crackers you are using, trimming the crackers if necessary to fit the sheet as well as possible. Big gaps are not advisable.
Melt the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring the mxiture to a boil. Simmer for three minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the coffee, vanilla and salt.
Now either pour it over the crackers or spoon it over (my preference) to get a more or less even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, check at 12 to ensure that the edges aren't burning. If they are then drop the temperature 25 degrees and continue baking.
Once it is done then pull it out and sprinkle your chocolate chips over top. I like to put it back in the oven for 30 seconds to speed up the melting of the chips. Smooth the chocolate chips with an offset spatula or your utensil of choice.
Scatter over the nuts you are using and put in the fridge to harden. Once set then peel away the parchment and break into pieces. Please be advised that shards of toffee will fly everywhere.
Now go pretend you only made half the amount you did so no one knows how much you ate. It will be our little secret.