Tag-Archive for ◊ graham crackers ◊

29 Mar 2014 Caramel and Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

Graham-crackers-2

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad few days around here. We are all fine, but there was a family brouhaha that just didn’t sit right. We were all out of sorts, and, truth be told,  a bit afraid of what the future will bring, too.  So what to do? Make the all time favorite family comfort food, of course!

This recipe is rustic and quik, and it’s done in 20 minutes.  So it’s great just to start on this and put some of that pent up adrenaline to good use. But then there’s the cooling off period. Once made, these bars have to  sit in the refrigerator to harden up a bit. Again, another good thing.  A cooling off period is needed after a big family brouhaha.  Then comes the peace and contentment, sitting down with a good cup of coffee, some rustic chocolate covered graham crackers and reflecting on what went right and what went wrong, and figuring out how to right the wrongs and ultimately, bringing peace back to the family.

In August of 2005 my friends Sharon and Margie, from Lake Arrowhead Retreats, gave me a recipe for Saltine Toffee Cookies which they had found on AllRecipes.com.  Truth be told, the recipe didn’t sound very good.  Saltine crackers, brown sugar, butter, and melted chocolate?  Just say no.  But they insisted I try it.  They insisted the recipe was good.  I trusted them, they make some great food, so I tried it. It WAS good. VERY good.  Then I came to find out this recipe is sort of an Internet sensation and I might have been the last person on the planet to know about it!

Years pass, and one fine weekend, I took a chocolate making class.  The instructor of the class talked about how her mother used to make a ganache and pour it over crumbled up graham crackers as a bedtime snack for her and her siblings (I know, I know, what a Mom! I never did that for MY kids…).  Then the gears started churning.  Chocolate covered graham crackers are one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, but I had never made them.  The chocolate covered graham crackers from Starbucks are the best, but they are a bit too rich with a bit too much chocolate. OH!  The light bulb popped!  Could I make chocolate covered graham crackers for my kids, too?  I could one-up that other Mom, as well!  I could make chocolate covered graham crackers and with caramel!  Never mind that she was using a fancy ganache and I was just melting giant chocolate bars, LOL! What if I use the Saltine Toffee Cookie recipe but substitute graham crackers for the saltine crackers.  What if???

So I did it.  Many times.  My son says these are the best things I make. The last tin I made, hidden in the refrigerator behind the lettuce, lasted only three days.

Turns out, I am not the first person to think of this!  Lots of people on the Internet have used graham crackers instead of saltines with this recipe. Again, why am I one of the last people on the planet to know about this?! 🙂 Anyway, here’s my recipe.  You can find lots of versions all over, but this is the one that works for me.  Keep these Caramel Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers refrigerated, when they are not being eaten…  If these cookies sit out too long at room temperature the graham cracker starts to soften and loose it’s crunch 🙁 My 2005 copy of this recipe (with saltines rather than graham crackers) specifies that the recipe makes 35 servings. ROFLMAO!!! That’s so funny 🙂

Caramel and Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

  • approx. 2/3 a box of graham crackers (two wax covered packages out of a box of 3 packages)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large sized (4 or 5 oz) chocolate bar, chopped (I like a Symphony Bar or a Cadbury Bar, if you like dark chocolate, the Hershey’s Special Dark Bar is good)
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (if you like nuts.  I have never added nuts) OR, if it’s December, crushed candy canes! (I loooove this option!)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with graham crackers.  Place the graham crackers as close together as possible. You will need most of 2 waxed covered packages. Set tray aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and sugar and stir constantly, over medium heat, until sugar is melted.
  4. Raise heat slightly, to bring mixture to a boil.  Boil vigorously for 3 minutes, without stirring–shaking the pan occasionally is OK (the original directions said to “stir constantly” but I have found this to make a grainy caramel layer).
  5. Immediately pour caramel over graham crackers.  Use an offset spatula to quickly spread the caramel evenly over the crackers.
  6. Place tray in hot oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove tray from oven and sprinkled chopped chocolate evenly over top.  Let chocolate just sit on top of caramel for 5 minutes.
  8. Spread the now melted chocolate evenly over the caramel.  Sprinkle with nuts (if using).
  9. Let tray sit until chocolate has hardened.  This make take a few hours.  To speed things up, put the tray in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.
  10. When chocolate is set, break bars into uneven pieces. Sneak a piece or two.  Serve or cover and hide in refrigerator until needed.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If there is a brouhaha in your family, I hope it’s over quickly and sweetly!

15 Jan 2011 Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie! You’ve heard of it, right? Toffee, bananas and coffee flavored cream in a pastry crust? There is more to British desserts than Trifle, Spotted Dick, and Sticky Toffee Pudding, you know!

This pie took the British Isles by storm in 1972, and  gets more and more popular by the year. I’ve read Banoffee Pie is now on Australian menus, New Zealand menus, and even a few US menus!

Last March I went to England with a specific goal: to taste Banoffee Pie.  It didn’t happen.  FINALLY, almost one year later, I got a taste and it was made by me in my own kitchen!  If you want something done right… 🙂 It’s a pity I had to wait so long, but it was worth the wait.

Now that you’ve heard of Banoffee Pie, don’t wait as long as I did to try it.  It’s as easy as pie to make!  There is no doubt in my mind that my very next dinner party will feature Banoffee Pie. No doubt at ALL.

The original pie was made in a regular baked shortcrust pastry, but I made mine in a crust of crushed “Digestive Biscuits” (another English specialty! And, no, I don’t know why they are called “digestive” biscuits. I don’t want to think about it actually.) and melted butter.  A graham cracker crust can be substituted.  So you have three crust options! Pick the one that best suits your tastes, what you have on hand, or is easiest for you to pull together.

Banoffee Pie

For “Digestive” crust

4 oz. melted butter

8 oz. English Digestive Biscuits (available in International sections of many larger grocery stores, British Food stores and Indian markets…)

For Bottom Toffee Layer

4 oz. butter

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

For Middle Banana Layer

3 or 4 small bananas

For Top Cream Layer

1 ¼ cups whipping cream

½ – ¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder (to taste)

2 tablespoons sugar

small amount of grated chocolate (or ½ of a “Flake” bar, crumbled–another very good British chocolate bar)

Directions:

Decide what kind of crust you want and prepare it.  To make the English crust, crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor and then stir in the melted butter.  Press mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  (If you don’t have a 10-inch tart pan, use a quiche pan or a regular pie pan).  Chill until firm.

Combine the butter and sugar into a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the condensed milk and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.  Let sit until cool.  This step is OK to prepare one day in advance.

If using a tart pan, remove the pie from the pan and place on serving tray.

Cut the bananas in half lengthwise.  Using the curve of the banana against the outside layer of the pie crust, begin to layer the banana halves lengthwise on top of the toffee layer.  When you get towards the inside you will have to cut the long banana halves to fit.

Combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form.  Spread the cream mixture on top of the bananas.

Grate the chocolate, you only need a tablespoonful or two, and sprinkle over the top of the whipped cream.

Serve immediately (or within an hour or two, although leftovers do keep rather well for a bit longer than that.., if there ARE any leftovers…)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope you make this soon and NEVER say terrible things about British food again! I may get offended! There is some very good British food out there, you know 🙂

06 Dec 2010 Chocolate-Caramel-Coconut Bars

So sorry, so sorry. I’m a bit  behind on my Christmas Cookie postings.  Blame it on the drain!  There have been many, many men visiting me this last week.  Unfortunately, they are only interested in messing with my pipes and taking my money. Lots of my money went out the door with one man today, lots more went with another man last week, more will go tomorrow with a third man<sigh> and I still can’t use the sink, the dishwasher, or the washing machine.  What’s this got to do with Christmas cookies and posting recipes?  Not much, I guess.  My computer still works.  My fingers aren’t broken.  My Christmas spirit has suffered a bit, but not posting recipes for GREAT Christmas cookies is not helping.  So let’s get to it!

Coconut Bars are a new addition to my repertoire this year.  Over the past month or so I’ve spent a bit of time trying to cook my way through The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1941-2009 by Gourmet Magazine.  I’ve liked a lot of the cookies, but I’ve been tempted to fiddle with each one of them.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I’m crazy.  Maybe I have too much free time.  Maybe I have serious gym avoidance issues (the latter is the closest to the truth)…

I loved the base of Gourmet’s Chocolate Coconut Squares on page 124 (which Gourmet declared the best cookie of 1997) , but simply hated the ganache topping they used.  It took a few tries, four or more, before I got a version I liked.  My version has Gourmet’s base, a caramel layer (from a Saltine Toffee Cookie recipe), and then some melted chocolate to “gild the lily” as my friend Louise is fond of saying.  It’s decadence.  Candy bar decadence. The recipe makes a 9 x 13 inch panful.  Cut the bars small, and you can feed the neighborhood! Bars will keep a week or more when covered and refrigerated.

Several of the taste testers asked for the recipe and that’s  ALWAYS a good sign!  So here it is, my recipe (inspired by Gourmet’s Chocolate Coconut Squares) for Chocolate-Caramel-Coconut Bars.  I’m thinking of calling them “Triple C Bars”… 🙂

Chocolate-Caramel-Coconut Bars

Bottom Layer

  • 20 whole graham crackers (one 4-portioned cracker counts as one whole cracker)
  • ¾ cup melted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz. sweetened flaked coconut (about 4 cups)

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar

Top Layer

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or approx 5 oz. chopped good quality chocolate)
  • ¼ cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with baking parchment or foil.  Spray the paper with Pam or grease with a bit of softened butter.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a food processor, and pulse until the graham crackers are finely ground and no large chunks remain.
  3. Melt butter in the microwave, stir in salt, and then pour mixture over graham cracker crumbs in food processor.  Pulse a few times to blend.
  4. Remove buttered crumbs from food processor and add to flaked coconut.
  5. Press coconut mixture into the bottom of prepared pan.
  6. Bake base layer in preheated 350º oven for 15 minutes.
  7. About 5 minutes before coconut base layer is due to be taken out of oven, melt butter for caramel layer in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Stir to dissolve and then boil mixture for five minutes.  Remove from heat.
  8. Pour caramel layer over graham coconut base and then bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips or chopped chocolate over caramel.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the now melted chocolate evenly over the caramel layer.  Sprinkle ¼ cup coconut over smoothed chocolate. Let bars sit to cool completely.  Place in refrigerator to speed up the hardening of the chocolate, if desired.
  11. When bars are completely cool, remove from pan with foil or parchment.  Remove foil or parchment from bars and then cut into desired size. I cut mine into 2-bite bars, about 1 ½ inches by ¾ inch.

OK, the Christmas spirit is creeping back!  We have the  makings of a nice cookie tray… Gingerbread Folk, Jam Pinwheels, Caramel Bars, Egg Nog Spritz and Chocolate-Caramel-Coconut Bars. Next up?  Tangerine Sugar Cookies! Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. You cheered me up immensely!

24 Jul 2010 S’mores Bars II

You know I am crying my eyes out about our canceled family and friends camping trip, right? My daughter, Abby, thought these might cheer me up. They did! The are ooey-gooey-sticky-messy-yummy, just like the real thing–and she used the extra thick chocolate option, so they were extra chocolatey, too.

Abby found a picture on Foodgawker that linked to RealMomKitchen which mentioned a new product, a HUGE marshmallow to fit into a s’more (most of us toast two marshmallows to fit into one s’more, right?) who got it from Cooking with My Kid who has a step-by-step picture tutorial for the s’mores bars. With me pointing you to all these good sites on the web it won’t be long before you don’t need me any longer..,.sniff, sniff… [sigh] As my eternally pessimistic ex-husband always used to say, in a comforting voice no less, “Life is hard. Then you die”… ROFLMAO 😀

S’Mores Bars

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (Abby used the really big extra thick ones…)
1 large egg
1 7 oz jar (1/2 cups) marshmallow creme/fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7  full-sized graham crackers, processed or pounded until fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside. Meanwhile,whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.Place chocolate bars over dough–2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Be sure to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 squares. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I always enjoy your company 🙂
22 Jul 2010 Fresh Blueberry White Chocolate Pie

I make two no-bake pies in the summer, a Fresh Strawberry Chocolate Pie and this Fresh Blueberry White Chocolate Pie. Fresh pies are quick to pull together, don’t heat up the kitchen, and are real crowd pleasers. Just remember to start early in the day to allow a few hours for the filing to set before serving. This pie usually doesn’t keep well, but maybe I say that because I never have any left over! And my daughter Abby made this pie 3 days ago, which still looks good enough to eat tonight.

The white chocolate graham cracker crust aspect is my own idea (got it from my Strawberry Chocolate Pie) but the blueberry filling part came from Epicurious a few years ago. I haven’t mastered crumb crusts yet (mine are always too hard) so while I am still working on getting the right recipe and the right technique, I use a pre-made crust.

Fresh Blueberry White Chocolate Pie

4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated zest, to taste (one lemon, or half of a lemon)
pinch of salt
1 or 2 tablespoons butter

1 graham cracker or shortbread crust (I prefer shortbread)
Approx. 1/2 bag white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli or Guittard–don’t use Nestle or a store brand they don’t taste right)
1 – 2 teaspoons Crisco (optional, just helps with melting and spreading-sometimes I use, sometimes I don’t)

whipped cream (make fresh if at all possible)

Prepare the crust first. Melt the white chocolate with the optional shortening in the MW on 50% power for about 2 minutes. Stir well after every 30 seconds. Do not overhead. Carefully spread a THIN layer of white chocolate onto the sides and bottom of the pie crust. You need to cover all the crust, so the filing can’t seep through and make the crust soggy, but you need to keep the chocolate covering thin enough to not make the pie too sweet! So…, as THIN as you possibly can while covering the crumbs completely! Put prepared crust in refrigerator to set (pssst…, if you have any melted white chocolate left, drizzle it on some pretzels and then put them into refridgerator to harden… Yummeeeeee.  White chocolate covered pretzels will keep, covered, in the fridge for, well, probably longer than they will last!).

Measure out 1 cup of the blueberries, choose the softest most imperfect ones. Put these berries in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Cover the pan and bring mixture to a boil. After the mixture comes to a boil, remove the lid, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 – 4 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the additional 2 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Add this cornstarch mixture plus the sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and salt. Simmer mixture for a minute, or until the blueberry mixture becomes translucent. When the mixture becomes translucent immediately remove from heat and stir in remaining 3 cups fresh blueberries, lemon zest and 1 – 2 tablespoons butter.

Spoon blueberry mixture into white chocolate covered crumb crust and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours before serving. When set, the blueberries will remain very juicy, but will not flow out of crust.

Just before serving pipe or spread whipped cream around the sides of the pie, leaving the center unadorned and brilliantly glistening.

According to the original recipe, the pie can be kept at room temperature (minus the whipped cream) for two days. (I keep mine in the RF though)

15 Feb 2010 S’mores Bars I

I have been looking for a recipe for S’mores Bars since they started showing up in bakery cases a few years ago.  I guess the idea of moving S’mores from the campfire to a bar started with the boxed granola bar.  The mass product manufacturers didn’t get it right though. Eating a boxed S’more granola bar is like eating textured, scented cardboard. S’mores Bars in bakery cases don’t fare too well either.  The usual recipe seems to be overly sweet chocolate brownies with marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs on the top.  But I have the right recipe now!  The bottom is 2 parts graham crackers to one part chocolate.  Perfect ratio, right?  The graham crackers and chocolate are held together with sweetened goodness and there are sticky, gooey, melted marshmallows on top.  The right flavor. The right texture.  The right stickiness. I wasn’t a girl scout for 17 years for nothing!

The inspiration for this recipe came from the Taste of Home “Cookies: 623 Irresistible Delights!“.  Page 217 has a Graham Cracker Brownie recipe attributed to Cathy Guffey from PA.  I just added the marshmallows and gave the bars a more appropriate name.

I am thinking I need to double this recipe next time and make it in an 13 x 11 inch pan.

S’mores Bars

2 cups crushed graham crackers (1 cellophane wrapped package)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8×8 inch baking pan. Crush the graham crackers by whacking them in the package. I use a meat mallet, but the back of a soup ladle, measuring cup, or small pan will also work–don’t make really fine crumbs, though.  Leave some big pieces.  Put the (large)crumbs in a mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips, baking powder and salt and combine.  Stir in the sweetened condensed milk.  Spread mixture into an 8×8 inch baking pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Take out of oven and sprinkle miniature marshmallows over the top.

Return pan to oven for 4-5 minutes to melt marshmallows.  Remove pan from oven and quickly spread melting marshmallows smoothly over the top with an offset spatula.

Let bars cool completely. Now comes the hard part, cutting the bars.  I find it a bit easier to use a warmed knife for each cut…but it is still a sticky job, which makes them true S’mores Bars!.  Cut into 16 bars.

How many girl scouts, former and current, stopped by my kitchen today?  Do you think you’ll try these?