Cracker Toffee

What’s everyone up to today? Any crazy holiday prep going on?

Things here are actually pretty mellow. The cookies are all baked. The gifts are all bought and wrapped. It’s almost lunchtime and we’re all still our pajamas. All we have planned really is a liquor store run and a nap. Not bad for the day before Christmas Eve!

If you’re looking for one more treat to make or need a last-minute dessert, this cracker toffee is the way to go. It takes about 20 minutes to make, then you cool it and break it up. It, by design, doesn’t have to look perfect so you don’t need to stress details today and there’s a good chance you already have the ingredients on hand!

I hope you’re all settling in for a lovely holiday with people you love. Merry Christmas from me and the crw!

Cracker Toffee

Cracker Toffee
(from Little Dairy on the Prairie)
Makes 1 sheet pan full

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
Saltine crackers or Matzo
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkles, for decorating

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Line the pan with saltines or matzo so they cover the whole bottom without overlapping. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until it reaches a boil, then remove the spoon and let boil for 3 minutes. Pour the hot mixture over the saltines as evenly as possible and transfer the pan to the oven to bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let sit for a few minutes then spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers. Top with sprinkles, if desired, and put the pan in a cool place to set.

Once completely cooled and the chocolate has set, break into pieces and serve.

Cracker toffee

 

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Sprinkle Cookies

I, along with most of my friends from school, are turning 30 this year. It’s weird to think we’re exiting our 20s – mostly because that makes it painfully obvious we’re no longer “just out of college” or “just starting adulthood”. Hello, we’re here.

Adult doesn’t necessarily mean mature, though. We’ve had two 30th birthday parties so far this year: one involved playing dodgeball at a trampoline park and the other was a pizza party. Because, you know, my friends are awesome.

I made up these cookies as a 30th birthday gift for our friend, Douglas. I’d actually made them back in November when Jacob was baptized with blue and white sprinkles and Douglas was crazy for them. His wife held a Christmas cookie exchange in December and he was sorely disappointed I didn’t bring these so I knew they’d be a hit his birthday.

They remind me of the soft vanilla cookies my Mom used to get from the bakery. Just the right amount of chewy center with a slightly crisp edge. And switching up the sprinkle colors makes them perfect for just about any occasion. Or, any 30th birthday party you may be attending!

SprinkleCookies

Sprinkle Cookies
(from Grace and Good Eats)
Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sprinkles

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and pudding mix. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well combined. Beat in vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined. Mold dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Roll the dough into 1″ balls, roll the balls in sprinkles and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges and just set in the center. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Italian Easter Bread

I married into a big, Italian family with lots of food traditions. My favorite? Easter bread. It’s a sweet loaf covered in sprinkles. They serve it as a side dish at the big family Easter party and then we eat leftovers for breakfast until it runs out. I look forward to it every year.

Mark’s Grandmother used to make it every year for everyone in the family. Then, when she wasn’t able to, his Uncle took over the tradition. When she passed away, I got a copy of her recipe so I could continue making it.

It was easier said than done, though. Her recipe is finicky and gives hit-or-miss results. When it turns out, you get this beautiful loaf of sweet bread; When it doesn’t, you get a nice mess. After one-too-many failed attempts to duplicate her bread, I started browsing the internet for another recipe.

This recipe is close to hers, though there are a few key differences. The results taste the same, though, and I’ve yet to have a failed batch. Most importantly, it has gotten Mark’s seal of approval.

EasterBread

Italian Easter Bread
(from The Italian Dish)
Makes 2 braided loaves

2 1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/4 c. scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/3 c. butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c.sugar
3 1/2 c. flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
Sprinkles

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add in about half the flour and beat until smooth using a dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour until a stiff dough forms. Don’t worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with a dough hook or turn the dough out on floured board and knead. Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Punch dough down, divide into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope. Using three dough ropes, braid together and pinch ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining three dough ropes.

Transfer the braids to a greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees

Brush each loaf with the beaten egg wash.  Decorate with sprinkles.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.