christmas crack

There’s two reasons this candy is called “Christmas Crack.”

1) It is traditionally made with Saltine crackers (personally, I like to use buttery Ritz)
2) It is INSANELY addictive — once it cools, you literally can’t quit eating it! (I had to gift it off to friends before I finished the entire tray!

Last Tuesday, I got home really late from track practice.  After I kicked off my sneakers and settled in to an episode of Modern Family, I realized that I hadn’t baked my Secret Santa her present!  It was too late to make any sort of quick bread or brownies, and I was too tired to even think about whipping up cookie dough (those 500m relays kill me every time)… 

Ritz crackers + butter + sugar + chocolate = SOLUTION!

This recipe is not only incredibly addictive, it’s also unbelievably easy and quick to make (for better or for worse…).  Just lay out the crackers, melt the butter and sugar, and melt the chocolate. DONE! I decorated mine by marbling white chocolate on the dark chocolate surface — however, the possibilities are endless (you could sprinkle the melted chocolate with some crushed nuts, sprinkles, or even crushed candy canes!). Once you get your first taste I know you will be hooked.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

1.5 sleeves of crackers* (enough to cover a baking sheet)
1 stick butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
Sprinkles,  nuts, white chocolate etc. to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it
with parchment paper and spraying generously with nonstick cooking spray. 
 
Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet
so that there are no empty spaces in between them.
 
Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over
medium-high heat. Stir while the butter melts, and bring the mixture to a
rolling boil. Once boiling, carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture
over the crackers on the baking sheet in an even layer, trying to cover
most of the crackers. If you miss some spots, don’t worry as the toffee
will spread in the oven.
 
 Bake the toffee crackers at 350 degrees for five minutes,
until the toffee is bubbling all over. Carefully remove the pan from the
oven and allow to cool for one minute.
 
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee, and
allow them to sit for one minute to soften and melt (if they aren’t melting quick enough, pop in the oven for a minute and let the residual heat soften them). Once softened, use
an offset spatula or knife to spread the melted chocolate over the
entire surface of the toffee in an even layer. While the chocolate is
still soft, decorate how you like.
 
Cool until set (I left mine on the counter overnight, but you could pop them in the fridge for 30 min, or even the freezer if you cant wait!). Once set, either slice into small pieces with a warm knife or break into small uneven pieces by hand, and
enjoy!

*I used Ritz, but Tollhouse, Saltines, Matzo, even graham crackers would be delicious!

banoffee bread

Erika of The Teenage Taste, Abby of Munchin’ Mel, and I have started a new project called The Three Ingredient Challenge. Every month, we vote on three ingredients and a category (such as quick breads, cakes, brownies etc.) and see what we come up with! This months ingredients were hazelnuts, toffee, and cocoa. The category was quick breads, muffins and scones.

When we chose the category of quick breads, I knew I had to make banana bread.  I know, another banana bread recipe? Yes. But stay with me… this one is special.

This is not banana bread as you know it; this is banoffee bread, the love-child of mindbogglingly moist banana bread and sinfully delicious banoffee pie.

Banoffee is a clever little portmanteau of the words “banana” and “toffee.” Banoffee pie is a big thing across the pond.  It’s kind of like banana cream pie, but much better, and British. Two years ago my dad and I shared a big slice of banoffee pie in Leicester Square, and I will never forget it.  A buttery, slightly salty English shortbread crust, oozing with warm toffee and topped with an ungodly amount of whipped cream. The banana-lover in me was in heaven.

Alas, for some reason, it’s still not socially acceptable to eat a big, gooey slice of pie in the morning. But this banana bread provides a loophole. Now I can have my gooey toffee, banana sensation for breakfast, snack, dessert, and just because.
Do you ever wish you could eat dessert for breakfast?

With love,
Erica

*note, the grocery store was all out of cocoa powder… but I used two out of the three ingredients. That counts right?! Once you taste this bread… you’ll say it counts 😉

1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Heath bars, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (I used peach, because that is all I had)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted. (Be careful
and do this over medium power in short burst because it can explode or
splatter and that is a big mess.) Or melt it in the preheating oven.
Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and
salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to
combine. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed
banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour
the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a
rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined.
Do not overmix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make
sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the
loaf pan and smooth the top.
Bake into the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick
inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 mins to an hour. If the
loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil.
Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 mins. Then tip out
onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing (if you can
wait that long).
The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to
protect from freezer burn. Try it cold, sliced fresh out of the freezer.