making saltine candy “almost gourmet” for christmas
I’ve made saltine candy (also known as “caramel chocolate crackers“) for Christmas for a few years now. Last year, Stacey joined me and we experimented with flavors – actually, just one flavor – and bacon saltine candy was born.
This year I wanted to “step it up” and Stacey and I created eight (!!) different batches of saltine candy – experimenting with flavors, spices and other additions to the caramel – such as evaporated milk, cinnamon, chai, and whiskey.
Here are a few highlights, plus a list of all of our flavors from this year!
Just a few of the items I had laid out for our candy making experiment.
And some of the seasonings. Yeah, I actually have more than 5 salts in the cabinet… does that make me some kind of salt snob? (Answer: probably).
This year I stuck with 1 to 1 ratios of butter to brown sugar. We had a few smaller batches due to the size of some of the baking pans and had to adjust the amount of caramel needed. The 1 to 1 ratio made it easier to figure things out. For large trays, we did 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar, smaller trays 3/4 cup of each. For additions, I just guessed and poured stuff in, usually about 1/4 cup if we used a liquid (such as evaporated milk or whiskey).
One of my first experiments was using cinnamon graham crackers instead of saltines for some “gingerbread s’mores” candy. I used the wrong kind of pot though, and the caramel got a little overcooked, hence the super dark color. The caramel here also had the addition of cinnamon, ginger and cloves put into the caramel.
As well as pecans, white chocolate and caramel flavored marshmallows. Marshmallows, as it turns out, are really hard to cut. This gingerbread inspired batch turned out nicely, though maybe a little crunchier than I would have liked…
Lesson learned from this batch? Use a thicker, heat conductive friendly pot for making caramel.
It was interesting to see how different additions really affected how the caramel turned out. On the top, that caramel had the addition of evaporated milk, while the one on the bottom did not have any additional liquids (and was left sitting on the counter for a few minutes before we could pop it into the oven).
One of my favorite additions this year was Jack Daniels and Jim Beam whiskey. It added a nice additional background flavor to the candy that I really ended up liking. Might have to try this candy out with more booze next year.
The Jack Daniels caramel was paired up with some slivered almonds for a nice crunch.
Stacey got to practice her “candy karate chopping” skills this year. Can’t let oneself slack and get rusty. Never know when you’ll need to karate chop candy again.
This is the bacon saltine candy before the chocolate got melted on it.
Stacey and I could not remember how we made this last year… since it didn’t seem to turn out the same way. Probably didn’t need to put a pound of bacon on top of these crackers either… but we totally did. We ended up adding a lot more chocolate just to cover up the crazy amount of bacon we put on and then stuck this in the freezer to make it set up. A sprinkle of smoked salt also went on top as a finishing touch.
Also found this bag of Peppermint Bark Baking Bits at Trader Joe’s – a fun topping for one batch! This was put on top of a batch that also had Jim Beam whiskey and fleur de sel in the caramel with milk chocolate.
Andes Peppermint Crunch was also a pretty festive looking option for one of our batches this year. The further we got along, the more we liked the evaporated milk as an addition (or any liquid) to help make a smoother, thicker caramel sauce.
We also made one “plain” batch with only blue sugar and blue sprinkles, one “pumpkin chai” batch using pumpkin chai tea latte mix, and one batch with just fleur de sel salt sprinkled over the top.
All in all another successful year in candy making. These make for great gifts and I don’t know a soul who doesn’t just eat this candy right up. Best of all, it’s super easy to do and the flavors can be easily manipulated to make something unique and almost “gourmet”.