So I’ve been toying with the idea of giving up sugar. Am I crazy? It would only be for 30 days, and I wouldn’t start till after my birthday at the end of the month. Wouldn’t be a birthday without cake. I keep thinking it won’t be that big a deal. I can eat all the fruit I want, I can use honey if I need to, and I have no major events between 7/27 and 8/27 that I know of that would require me eating dessert (oh come on, you can’t pass up cake at a wedding or birthday party!). I keep telling myself that I don’t need the cupcakes anyway. We’ll see if I jump in with both feet or if I get stage fright.
But while I have the time and the calories left, I am happy to indulge. Here’s one of my all-time favorite salty/sweet combos; in fact, it’s one of my favorite desserts period. This is a fabulous dish to make when you’re having people over or when you’re headed somewhere fun. It makes a ton of food, and your friends will go crazy over it. It’s crunchy, it’s sweet, and it has a sticky toffee-esque layer too. And you can break the pieces as small as you want to make it feel like you’re not eating that many.
Remember my monkey bread friend from college? Her mom made introduced me to this too, and I was ever-so-grateful when she shared. A co-worker served this at a holiday party once upon a time, and instead of just sharing the bark, she shared the recipe. I’ve been unstoppable ever since.
- 1 sleeve saltine crackers
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 C sugar
- 6 oz milk chocolate chips
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2/3 C of some sort of topping (chopped walnuts, pecans, toasted coconut, holiday sprinkles even)
Preheat your oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with some cooking spray. I don’t use cooking spray often, but in this case it’s essential. Lay the saltines in an even layer on the greased foil.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. When it’s melted, stir in the sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 10 minutes to let the sugar and butter become one smooth, creamy sauce. You might try and cheat and call it done after half the time, but the mixture will be grainy, even though it might appear smooth. Take it from someone who’s been that impatient before.
After your hard work is done, pour the mixture over the saltines. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and golden brown. Immediately scatter the chocolate chips over the hot caramel and use a rubber spatula to smooth them out as they begin to melt. If you use a jelly-roll pan, you may need to sprinkle some more chocolate on top. But trust me when I say that once you start spreading the chocolate, it will go farther than you think. And equal layers of chocolate and crunch are a must for bark.
After that, you can go crazy with toppings, laying them on the chocolate before it’s hardened up to ensure it sticks. I typically choose my topping based on whatever random baking ingredient is leftover from another adventure. Holiday themed sprinkles are always a winner as well. Once the baking sheet has cooled enough, pop it in the fridge or the freezer until the chocolate has firmed up.
Then start breaking it into pieces, bite-sized or bigger, making sure the foil peels right off the bottom.
*A note since it is July: the chocolate will get goopy again if you take this some place warm. It’s best for indoor soirees.