Saltines get a bad wrap – they’re square with little holes in them, hard to swallow if you eat too many at once, kind of an ugly color, and for some reason I always associate them with having a stomach ache (that and flat ginger ale). For a while I thought all you could do to spice them up was slap peanut butter on them – until one fateful December when I discovered that they are the base for one of the easiest and most delicious sweet treats I’ve ever had in my life.
It was Sophomore year of college, right before Christmas break when Ash’s mom invited us gals out to the ‘burbs’ from Providence to have dinner with her family – a delicious pork dish with all the fixings was on the menu, a welcome change to the slop du jor we were used to at school. And then after dinner she put dessert on the table – I saw chocolate – YES. But then what in the…saltines? Are those saltine crackers under that chocolate? I was skeptical, but went in head first thinking “How bad can they be?”.
Since then, this ‘brittle’ as Ash’s mom called it has been a staple for every occasion imaginable – at bachelorette parties, we hover over the ziplock bag of it after a night out thinking “who needs pizza when you have brittle!” During the holidays, it’s perfect for wrapping up on a plate with pretty cellophane and ribbon and giving to co-workers, family members, or neighbors. And the best part is that it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make – 5 basic ingredients – you can top it with pretty much anything imaginable, or just leave it plain and simple.
Saltine Toffee Brittle
(about 2 sleeves)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 bag semi-sweet (or milk) chocolate chips
*chopped pecans, M&M’s, holiday sprinkles, etc. etc. for topping are optional
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet (preferably with sides) with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray and line the tray with the saltine crackers.
3) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and vanilla together. Let them come to a rolling boil for about 3 minutes.
4) Pour butter/sugar/vanilla mixture over the saltine crackers and place in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, until the sugar/butter mixture starts to bubble.
5) Pour the chocolate chips over the saltines. Throw back in the oven for another minute, just to melt the chocolate chips a little more so they become more spreadable. Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate to cover the saltines entirely.
6) Place in the fridge to let cool and then break into pieces once completely cooled.
When I say this stuff is addicting, that is a total understatement. I couldn’t even wait for the stuff to cool last night and boom, 1 row of brittle, in my belly.
It can be served at room temperature, but it tastes really good cold/frozen as well. It freezes fantastically too, so break it up, toss it in the freezer, have a piece (or 2 or 3) every night for dessert, or you can save it for that holiday party you’re hosting. While no ones looking, take it out of the freezer, arrange it on a pretty Christmas plate, and say “Ohhh I just whipped this up! Enjoy!”.
Even puppies want in on it 🙂
Back to the office this morning, sporting my stretchiest and most forgiving pants with the taste of turkey still on the brain – I hope everyone had a great, great, great Thanksgiving weekend 🙂
The last four days were full of:
Some kitchen mishaps…
And now Christmas is in full effect at the Schoon house!
But still, I was itching to make good use of our leftovers, especially the stuffing. I don’t know about all of you, but for me Thanksgiving isn’t about the turkey or the pies – it’s about the stuffing. I.love.stuffing. I could eat it for days (and did). And I feel as though it never tastes as good at any other time of year than it does on Thanksgiving. This year, I made the standard and also a Cornbread Bacon stuffing from Martha Stewart that was so delicious! We had so much of it leftover, I did all kinds of googling to see what I could do with it. But I wasn’t finding anything that I thought sounded good. Then for some reason, meatballs popped into my head, not really sure why. But I thought “Why not take the stuffing as the ‘meat’ you’d use in a meatball, and prepare a ‘stuffing’ ball in a similar fashion?”. So I pulled up the recipe for Paula’s Crockpot Meatballs, made a few adjustments, gave it a shot, and most times when I go at things in this fashion, there’s always something that goes awry, but not this time!
Leftover Stuffing Bites
*yields 10 larger size balls or 20 smaller ‘bite size’ ones
1.5-2 cups leftover stuffing
(If you don’t already have stuffing, Pepperidge Farm has a really nice stuffing mix that is super fast and easy to make that would work well with these too!)
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
FOR DIPPING SAUCE
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. honey mustard
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Combine egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a small mixing bowl to form a paste.
3) Add the leftover stuffing to the paste, mixing with a spatula (or just your hands) until it becomes a dough like consistency.
4) Take 2 tbsp of the stuffing dough (for larger sized balls – 1 tbsp. for bite sized) and roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Place stuffing balls on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
5) Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes – flip over and then cooking for another 10 minutes on the other side (20 minutes total).
6) Mix honey mustard and mayo together in a small mixing bowl and serve with stuffing balls as a dipping sauce.
I asked Dave to try one, and he said “It tastes like stuffing” (deep thoughts). Which it did – but it has a nice moist texture, similar to that of a meatball, with the same great flavor that everyone loves about stuffing. It’s a great way to re-purpose your leftovers, or if you don’t have the stuffing leftover, you could whip up a quick Pepperidge Farm batch and serve these as an appetizer at your holiday parties. And people will say “Hey, these taste like stuffing! YUM!” – GENIUS! Feel free to adjust the spices/seasoning if you wish – I wanted to go light on that aspect of it, only because the stuffing itself already has so much flavor that you don’t need to add a whole lot to it.
Well folks, that’s my last T-day recipe for ya – next will be ALL Christmas – ALL the time – get excited – I know I am!
*Many apologies for the less than appetizing picture – I was preoccupied with skipping through the house putting up Christmas Decorations when I realized I needed to snap a pic of these yummies before it got dark at 4pm – damn you natural light! They taste MUCH better than they look in the pic, swear!
I’m sure you’re thinking “Carrot Souffle? What in the world?”
I know – I know – but bear with me here…
A few years back, Dave and I attended a holiday dinner party at his former bosses house, and his wife did a bang up job with dinner! I remember sitting down to the table with bug eyes at how amazingly delicious everything looked – except for this one orangey looking thing, covered with nuts. I started to sweat, because it’s really in poor taste to not try everything at a dinner party, so I scooped a little teeny smidgen of it, and went at it with my fork in one hand and my glass of wine in the other, just in case I needed an emergency wash down.
I took my first teeny little bite, small enough that I could taste what I was eating but not so much so that if I was about to gag it would be totally obvious – and thought “oooh, mmmm….this is pretty good actually.” My next bite was bigger, and after only a couple bites my small little scoop was gone – but I wanted more! So I took seconds….thought about thirds but didn’t want to embarrass Dave in front of his co-workers by stuffing my face. I knew I had to have the recipe and finally, she emailed the recipe to Dave and he forwarded it to me, and since then, it’s become a staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas, like the mashed potatoes or green bean casserole. It’s a light and fluffy combination of pureed carrots and lots of other ingredients that are better not to know – but luckily for you, I’m gonna share them, right now!
*Dave’s former bosses fabulous cook of a wife! (guess I should have gotten her name, eh?)
*yields enough for a 9×13″ baking pan for a larger crowd – halving it would be just enough for an 8×8″ dish
4 lbs carrot, cooked and pureed
(I know – seems like a lot!)
1 & 1/3 cups sugar
8 tbsp flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp vanilla
few dashes of cinnamon & nutmeg
For the topping
1 cup cornflake crumbs
4 tbsp. brown sugar
2 & 1/2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your baking dish by greasing the bottom and sides with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
2) Cook the carrots in boiling water until fully cooked through. Puree them with an electric mixer or food processor and allow to cool completely. In the mean time while they’re cooling, you can prepare the topping by pulsing the corn flakes in a food processor (or just crushing with your hands in a ziplock), then adding them to the brown sugar, melted butter and pecans.
3) Once the carrots are completely cooled off (the eggs will cook when you add them to the carrots if they haven’t cooled enough), add all of the other ingredients and blend with a mixer until fully combined.
4) Pour carrot mixture into the dish and then top with cornflake/pecan topping. Feel free to make more of the topping if you’d like – it is quite delicious!
5) Bake souffle in preheated oven for 1 hour.
This Carrot Souffle is a sweet treat for your tastebuds to take bites of in between the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and….
Is it Thursday yet?