You-Won’t-Believe-It Toffee

03SaltineToffeebfLOI love the Sunday paper.

Even if I’ve read the headlines the night before on da Google or something, the Sunday paper offers that comforting heft of articles and advertising that you didn’t really know you needed to see. I seriously doubt I would have clicked on an article about saltine-based toffee whilst clicking through The Huffington Post or ‘News Hounds – We watch FOX News so you don’t have to.’ – tho’ I don’t think that latter bunch does much with the recipes – probably just as well…

In any event – the Sunday Chicago Tribune most often features tempting things from Leah Eskin via her ‘Home on the Range’ column; I just don’t normally feel an immediate need to make them.

Maybe it was putting up the tree and all the seasonal décor and music and good cheer and all that, or maybe it was the wonderful powdery coating of snow we got yesterday.

Or MAYBE it was just that I had some saltines I was wondering what the heck to do with before they go stale and I have to toss the suckers down the disposal (AKA Herman).

Let’s stick with the seasonal cheer and treat story, shall we? Because this stuff is CRAZY good – and I’ve tweaked it, just a wee, tiny bit, to make a simple recipe even simpler.

I should confess that I, ermmm, over-roasted the pecans originally called for (deep black and smoking from the oven is NOT a good thing), and so replaced them with properly roasted English walnuts.

SO, to begin, let’s toast our nuts.

I usually do pecans at 300º for about thirty minutes, giving a good stir every ten – but that may all work because I also normally use my big roasting pan. This time, I was using the rimmed baking sheet I later planned to finish the toffee off in, and I should have pulled the pecans after the first fifteen minutes or so. NOTE: when roasting nuts – aroma is as important as color – so, when my pecans started smelling rich and roasted, I should have pulled them out of the oven and to heck with the timer. In any event, I had some walnuts to use as a replacement, so tossed them on the baking sheet and kept a better eye out (about twelve minutes total).

•1 cup butter
•35 saltine crackers
•1 cup packed dark brown sugar
•1 package (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips  – I used the last three cups of my Belgian Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate shavings
•1 cup roasted chopped pecans – OR – should you have a kitchen emergency – walnuts work out rather nicely, too

Line a 10×15 inch rimmed baking pan with parchment paper, allow for extra parchment paper to overhang the sides.

‘Wave the butter in an 8 cup glass measuring cup to melt – about one minute. Brush some of the butter onto the parchment paper.

Line up the saltines side-by-each in seven rows of five on the buttered parchment – I find it easier to lay out the paper and weigh it down early, so this part doesn’t find you dealing 01SaltinesbfLO 02SaltineToffeebfLOwith parchment waves of crackers.

Whisk the brown sugar into the remaining melted butter and wave for another four to six minutes – whisking every two – until brown and bubbly (four minutes was perfect for me).

Pour the brown sugar-butter mixture evenly over the crackers and bake in a 400º oven until brown and bubbly – about another ten minutes.

Scatter the chocolate over the hot surface and let sit for five minutes or so.

Spread the melted chocolate evenly, and toss and press in to place the roasted nuts. Freeze until firm – OR – if it happens to be a cold day in December in Illinois, you could cover the pan with foil and toss it on to your 17º deck for a bit – works the same and you don’t have to fight for freezer space.

Lift the toffee out by the parchment overhang, and set it on a cutting surface. Slice into 18 squares, then into halve the squares into triangles.

Salty. Chocolate. Roasted Nuts. For what more could you ask?

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