I’ve mentioned before that one cornerstone food from my childhood was peanut butter. And what goes better with peanut butter than a good old reliable saltine cracker, another touchstone food of youth. In my early childhood, when our house was free of junk food like chips, Cheetos and Doritos, saltine crackers (a box or two was always in the cupboard), were the crunchy, salty snack I turned to top with peanut butter, cheese, butter and jam or even just jam.
It was an after-school snack, accompanied my soup for lunch, was crushed as bread crumbs for meat loaf and salmon patties. I would crunch away on them just by themselves too, as those crunchy, salty snacks are needed, even in a house devoid of them (we made popcorn a lot, too).
I had seen over the years cookbook recipes, TV segments and postings about saltine cracker candy, but oddly, it took nearly my entire life (well, actually my entire life) to finally get around to making some. In a holiday season where I had decided on understatement and non-fancy (or fussy) recipes, the cracker candy I was thinking of was just the right fit.
The saltines are laid out on a baking sheet lined with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Butter and brown sugar are melted together and brought to a boil for three to four minutes.
This caramel mixture is poured evenly over the crackers. Hmmmm, the smell alone was already enticing!
The crackers topped with the caramel are baked in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then, they are topped with chopped chocolate or chunks or chips
After the chocolate is allowed some softening time, using a small spatula, the melted chocolate is spread over the crackers-and-caramel layer. Then, I added some chopped toasted and salted pecans.
I allowed the cracker candy an overnight chilling, and then broke it up into pieces, which snapped easily and satisfyingly.
The candy was like toffee, but so light and crispy, made less dense and more airy with that layer of crackers, like lightly salted caramel topped with chocolate, delivered in an easy and nearly elegant way. This welcome return to the versatile saltine was perfect at the perfect time of year.