Monday, January 21, 2008

Travel-friendly sweets...

This weekend, the family and three other couples packed up cars, and traveled over 4 hours to the snowy north for a long weekend ski trip. We rented a room with a full kitchen, because although we didn't really want to spend time cooking, we did not want to be captive to the hotel restaurants. It ended up working out brilliantly. I brought lasagna, french onion soup (with my handy kitchen torch to melt the cheese), two batches of monkey bread, and much more.

To be honest, I hadn't been skiing in about 10 years, so I was a little concerned about the possible success rate of this adventure. There was a water park for the kids, an outdoor pool that was heated so you could have the snow in your hair and a warm adult beverage in your hand and be perfectly at ease.

One of my extras for the trip were these cookies. I feared going the whole weekend without a sweet-chocolate nibble. Graham crackers or butter crackers are topped with nuts and chocolate and then lacquered in caramel-toffee. I used to make these with graham crackers (and H believes that if we are running low on toffee, the graham crackers are better), but I like the butter-salt contrast with the butter crackers. H thinks the butter crackers are good, as long as they are completely covered in toffee. Graham crackers are better when you are running low on toffee supplies because they have a little sweetness to them.

While these cookies look simple, they are addicting, as noted by my book club who also got some of these cookies.

Now, this is one of those recipes I eyeball, so forgive my vagueness. It all depends on what you like. I like my crackers with about 4-5 chocolate chips and cashews or almonds. I've also used macademia nuts. My husband prefers that every space has a nut and chocolate chip on it (the above was one of my husband's). We frequently spend more time arranging the toppings than anything else.

Toffee Cracker Cookies

Enough graham crackers / buttery rectangle crackers to fill a large cookie sheet. (usually about a 1/2 a box). I make mine on a half sheet pan. While you're at it, preheat the over to about 375.

Put a layer of aluminum foil down in the cookie sheet, and put the crackers down in a single layer (no overlaps, but as tight as you can. Break some into smaller pieces as needed).

Sprinkle the crackers with nuts and chocolate chips.

Next, make the toffee:

equal parts brown sugar and butter (no substitutions - suck it up). For 1 cookie sheet, I use about a 1/2 cup cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter.

Slowly, bring the butter and the sugar to a boil. Let the toffee boil for about 3-5 minutes. The sugar should be completely disolved, and it should be a coherent glob of brown stuff.

Pour this over the crackers and nuts.

Bake in the over for about 12-15 minutes. Peak at it about 10 minutes. You want the toffee to be clearly boiling over the crackers, but not burning. Take it out too early, and it may be a bit chewy (but still tasty).

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