Katie's Simple Christmas Candy

My Day So Far: Distributed all the Christmas gift bags, weekly Friday farmers market visit, mushroom soup for mother/daughter lunch. 
Naptime Goals: Write timeline for Christmas cooking next week, wrap gifts and hide them (!), make Katie's Candy for tonight's party. 
Tonight's Meal: Buccatini Alla' Amatriciana - a favorite go-to dinner.  
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Toddlers love unwrapping presents, even when they are not their own!

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in our house. My daughter has spent the day searching for gifts she suspects I've wrapped and hidden from her (she's right) because she loves nothing more than tearing off paper and bows. Truth be told, I don't think she really cares about what is actually underneath the paper, she is still at the stage where she just likes the act of unwrapping in general. In keeping with the holiday season we've been to several parties lately and we have another tonight. I am not hosting this particular party, but I do plan on taking some homemade Katie's Candy to the hostess.

I've named this after the person who gave it to me because she deserves the credit. Katie has given me some of my favorite recipes over time, and this is yet another one from her treasure trove. Katie actually gave this to me when I was in high school and beginning to make homemade Christmas gifts for my friends. It was the perfect recipe to start with. It only takes a few steps to make, requires four simple ingredients and is unbelievably delicious.

I've seen this recipe around in other places and have sometimes heard it referred to as "poor man's toffee" or "cracker bark." These names come from the fact that the simple act of baking the butter and sugar over the crackers forms a pure toffee. The unsalted cracker remains as the innocuous core, giving it structure without any undesirable taste. For extra flavor sometimes I like to top the bark with sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts, but in this particular case I used holiday sprinkles to make it party-perfect.

When I used to make this for my friends I would break up the tray of candy into pieces and put them in clear treat bags. For my friend's party I will break it into shards, separated the layers with wax paper, and take them to her house in a Tupperware. As you can see by the directions below, the eight minutes of baking time means that preparing this candy while my daughter naps is a snap. The 15 minutes of preparation time is easily one of the fastest ways to prepare toffee that I have ever found. And, happily, the quick preparation time means I can spend the rest of naptime taking care of family holiday gifts - making sure I don't leave a trace for my daughter to find when she wakes up!

If you have Christmas parties to attend this weekend I guarantee this will be a surefire hit. I know it was for my friend, and it was for my daughter, too. I let her have a nibble after it had fully cooled in the fridge. I think it has become her most favorite part about Christmas, next to the gift unwrapping, of course.

Katie's Candy
40 unsalted saltine crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. sliced almonds, or other toppings (suggestions below)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Line a 10x15 jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. On the foil line up 40 crackers so that they fit snuggly.
3. Melt butter and sugar together over medium heat in a saucepan. Once it is all melted pour the hot mixture over the crackers. The crackers will "float" at a bit, try to keep them all lined up.
4. Bake for 8 minutes, the mixture will be nice and bubbly.
5. Remove from the oven and immediately scatter the chocolate chips on top. As they begin to melt smooth them with a spatula so that they cover the entire tray.
6. Place pan in the refrigerator until cool and set. At least 2 hours.
7. Break into pieces and serve.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Variation Ideas: There are endless possibilities for topping this bark. I suggest sliced almonds, chopped hazelnuts, chopped pistachios, chopped pecans or sprinkles. I bet sea salt would be good, too!

Naptime Stopwatch: Making this candy takes 5 minutes of preparation, 8 minutes of baking and about 2 hours of cooling. Leaving the rest of naptime to get other things done!

Naptime Reviews: Adults and children alike love this candy bark. The pure toffee taste appeals to even the pickiest of candy connaisseur.


  1. I made these the other day, but with salted crackers and they were a great salty/ sweet combo- I'm taking them home to NY and am sure everyone will LOVE them!

  2. I've had the white chocolate version of this recipe and it's my favorite holiday treat. Must be lovely with the dark chocolate as well! Happy holidays!

  3. Dummy question: is a jelly roll pan the same as a cookie sheet? (like this: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=12182945&RN=872)

    I feel so silly - I think they are the same thing?

  4. Hi Kim,

    The difference between a jelly roll pan and a cookie sheet is that a jelly roll pan sides. So yes, the photo you sent is correct. You would not be able to make this candy or peppermint bark on a cookie sheet - you need a pan that has edges. :)

  5. Alright! So my little pan (which I always thought WAS a cookie sheet, but it has sides) would be ok then? I don't think the edge is quite 1", but it's close!


  6. What a great recipe! I made my first batch using the foil and jelly roll pan and it was good, but I spent a fair amount of time peeling little pieces of foil off. For round two I used my silicone baking pans and they worked perfectly - peeling off in a snap. I also mixed in some butterscotch chips with the chocolate in one batch - yum!