These are undeniably visually gorgeous creations, however I can only attest to the deliciousness of these based on the fact that they have never lasted in the company of emergency department staff for more than half an hour, and that after “only having a small bit” people tend to wind up having an altogether “bigger bit” as a result of seconds (“I can’t tell if this is sweet or savoury – I think I need to have more to figure it out”), thirds and “don’t let the crumbs go to waste”. I like topping them with crushed meringues and freeze dried raspberries (made by a New Zealand company – available at gourmet food shops for ~$12 a pack – a little goes a long way, and I certainly don’t even use a quarter for an entire double batch) for a candy-cane effect, along with a nut of some description to break up the colour a bit.
Tips and tricks: I’ve now made two double batches of this, the first of which, I used Whittaker’s dark chocolate and roughly chopped it myself, the second, I opted for Nestle melts and found the process entirely less fussy. I always toast nuts myself in a nonstick frypan, simply because I find it easier to eyeball them and stir occasionally while I get on with tasks – not to mention that hand-roasted nuts taste better than store-bought any day. I’m slowly getting more comfortable with the whole sugar on the stove turns to caramel thing, and I would say that provided you’re using a low enough heat, you have plenty of time to make sure the butter and sugar are dissolved before pouring (I’ll often try and pre-empt burning and realise that the melted butter atop crackers isn’t going to be particularly appealing and have to go back). Make sure the caramel gets a good bubble on it before removing it from the oven, and a tan. One of my batches didn’t set particularly well which made it a little too messy for transport.
Recipe taken from my auntie, who found it in Dish magazine
caramel Christmas crackers
- 100g plain salted crackers (I used Salada)
- 225g butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 250g dark chocolate melts (I used a whole mix of dark, white and milk for my second batch)
- TOPPINGS: I went for freeze-dried raspberries and store-bought meringue on all my batches, omitting nuts for sugar pearls for a nut-free version, and sprinkling toasted pistachios and hazelnuts on my other variations. I think it could be great to do a deconstructed rocky-road version with chopped marshmallows, glace cherries and salted peanuts, however 100% go wild with any fruit/nut combination you fancy
- Preheat oven to 190C/370F bake setting.
- Line a shallow 22x33cm (so the recipe specifies, I really just use what I have on hand and fit the crackers accordingly) baking tray (but not a cookie sheet or you will have ++caramel mess) with baking paper, greasing it a little beforehand to secure the paper.
- Arrange the crackers along the bottom of the tray so it is evenly covered with no double ups. Break the crackers so they fit to do this.
- Melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan, stirring frequently until it starts to dissolve entirely and bubble up a bit.
- Pour the caramel over the crackers as evenly as possible – use a spatula to spread it out if needed. Place the tray in the oven for 10 minutes, until the caramel starts to bubble and get a nice darkened tan on it (watch frequently at the end so as to ensure it doesn’t burn!).
- Remove from the oven, and scatter the chocolate melts (or chopped chocolate) atop the cooked caramel and return to bake for 1 minute or so. This melts the chocolate so it can easily be spread with the spatula for a smooth surface.
- Sprinkle your toppings and admire your impending festive artistic deliciousness. Leave to cool (the fridge unsurprisingly speeds up this process) before roughly cutting into uneven triangles.