Friday, December 15, 2006

Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars: Cookie or Candy?

Have you ever seen a recipe and you just had to try it because it sounded too good to pass up, and also because you're just too curious to see how it turns out? Well, this is one of those recipes. I saw it on Leite's Culinaria some time ago and tucked it away for future use. This seemed like a perfect cookie for the holidays, so I grabbed a box of saltines from the store, and everything else was already in the pantry. If you make these, be really careful when cooking the butter and brown sugar and then adding the condensed milk. It's, like, volcano hot, especially when it comes out of the oven. When it's all put together, it says to place it in the freezer for 30 minutes, but the pan is just too hot. It will defrost everything nearby. So I chilled it in the garage fridge for a while first, and then put it in the freezer. The foil came right off as directed, and cutting them along the crackers' edges was easy after letting them sit for 5 minutes or so. Yum Yum Yum!!! I'm not sure I want to share these with friends; they're just too good. I have a request from Eddie to try a batch using white chocolate, so we'll see how that goes.

Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars

1 1/4 cups butter, melted, divided
35 Nabisco Premium Saltine crackers
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
One 14 ounces can sweetened condensed milk
One 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted unsalted cashews, chopped medium coarse

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). To make the cookies easy to remove, line a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan with a sheet of foil, shiny side up, leaving a few inches hanging over the longer edges. Drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter onto the foil-lined pan, and brush to cover the bottom of the pan. Line the pan with the crackers (don't worry if there are small gaps).

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1 cup butter and the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, until the mixture forms a thick syrup (248°F/120°C) on a candy thermometer). Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the condensed milk until blended. Pour the mixture over the crackers, making sure all the crackers are covered.

3. Bake for 10 minutes. The top will be bubbly and brown. Remove from the oven, scatter the chocolate chips over the topping, and allow them to melt for 5 minutes. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread the chocolate over the surface and sprinkle with the nuts. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, press the nuts into the chocolate. Freeze until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. (as made: pan is too hot to put into the freezer right away, so I put it in the garage fridge for 30 minutes, then into the freezer)

4. Remove from the freezer and invert the pan onto a clean surface (don't worry if you lose some nuts from the surface; they'll be great for topping an ice cream sundae or for adding to cookie dough). Carefully peel back the foil to reveal the soda-cracker underside of the cookies. Using a sharp knife, cut the cookies along the cracker outlines. This is easier to do when the cookies have begun to thaw slightly. Invert and cut the squares into quarters for bite-size pieces or thirds for finger-size pieces.

Recipe © 2005 by Sara Perry. All rights reserved.
© 1999–2006 Leite's Culinaria, Inc

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