Monday, October 31, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saltine Toffee Bars

AKA: crack

Seriously this stuff should probably come with a warning. I've heard that some people become addicted to crack after just one use. I don't know about crack, but these toffee bars had me addicted after just one bite. They are sweet, salty, chocolatly, caramley, short, delicious! Everything that I love about toffee with the added salty crunch from the saltine cracker. The list of ingredients for these bars may leave you somewhat unimpressed. If you've never had them before, you maybe be thinking; saltine crackers, really?!? I know, it's kind of odd and  not a very exciting sounding ingredient. I've heard these bars referred to as trailer trash toffee. If you make them, you'll wonder how you've lived your life without them and won't care what they're called.
Most times in baking, you have to put in a good bit of time/effort to achieve results this scrumptious. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately!) these saltine toffee bars are so easy and quick to make, you can feed your addiction anytime.

Saltine Toffee Bars

1-1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

 Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet so that there are no empty spaces in between them. Crush a few remaining crackers into small crumbs, to be used as topping, and set aside for now.
 Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir while the butter melts, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Once boiling, carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture over the crackers on the baking sheet in an even layer, trying to cover most of the crackers. If you miss some spots, don’t worry as the toffee will spread in the oven.

Bake the toffee crackers at 350 degrees for five minutes, until the toffee is bubbling all over. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for one minute.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee, and allow them to sit for one minute to soften and melt. Once softened, use an offset spatula or knife to spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface of the toffee in an even layer. 

While the chocolate is still sticky, sprinkle the top with the reserved crushed crackers, chopped nuts, sprinkles or any combination of the three.
Top the bars with nuts, crushed crackers, even sprinkles!

Topped with yellow and orange sprinkles, they're perfect for Fall/Halloween parties!

Refrigerate the pan to set the toffee and chocolate for about 30 minutes. Once set, break into small uneven pieces by hand, and enjoy! Store uneaten saltine toffee in an airtight container for up to a week.

Just don't blame me if you find yourself addicted!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

 Our weather has been perfection this week. Crisp cold nights followed by clear cerulean blue sky days with hardly a cloud to be seen. The perfect weather to pick back up my afternoon hot tea ritual. What goes better with a mug of hot tea than a crunchy, not too sweet piece of biscotti. My love for all things pumpkin has been well documented on this blog. I'm pretty sure that I have posted more recipes with pumpkin as the star than any other ingredient. My love for that orange squash runs very deep ! I've been craving pumpkin pie for a couple of weeks now. So of course when I came across a recipe for pumpkin pie biscotti, I HAD to make it immediately. The biscotti contains all the spices found in pumpkin pie as well as pumpkin puree. The pumpkin puree gives the biscotti a beautiful orange color and really ups the pumpkin flavor. It's perfect if you are needing an afternoon pumpkin pie fix to go with you cup of tea!

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
Printable Recipe

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup mashed canned pumpkin
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
1cup pecans , coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl; stir well. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla, stirring well with a wire whisk. Slowly add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Mixture will be very crumbly; it will gradually become moist after stirring.) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, until nuts are slighty browned. Remove from heat and cool completely. 

Knead or gently stir cooled nuts into dough. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 portions. Lightly flour hands and shape each portion into approximately 2 x 12" long log. Place logs  lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 25-28 minutes; cool logs 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2" slices using a serrated knife. Place slices on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until they reach the desired crunchiness. The biscotti will get a bit crisper as it cools. Cool completely on wire racks.

source: Southern Living 1996 (adapted)

All that's missing is a piping hot cup of Chai tea!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween Wreath

I realize that no baking is involved with this post. However since this blog is my little corner of the internet and I do occasionally do more than bake, I thought I share this little Halloween project I did this week. I have to start by saying that I am not a crafty person. Not. At. All. I don't have the patients for things like scrap booking or sewing. Which is kind of strange since I have no problem working on a cake for hours at a time or decorating dozens of cupcakes. 
 I blame my decision to do this little project totally on Pinetrest. I have seen so many cute crafty things posted there that I began to feel like a loser for not even owning a glue gun. When I came across this wreath, I thought it was adorable. It looked pretty easy so I thought I'd try my hand at making one. I didn't want to spend much on the supplies because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make a wreath I actually wanted to hang! This wreath not only looked fairly easy to make but the supplies were inexpensive as well. I think all total (including purchasing a tiny glue gun for $3.00) I spent under $15.00 to buy everything I used to make it. 
This project is definitely on the easy side. Pretty much the only skill you need is knowing how to tie a knot. Perfect for the craft challenged person, such as I. 
I really like how the wreath turned but next time would do a sturdier base for my wreath. Because was trying not to spend too much and bases can cost as much as $10.00, I bought a foam piece from Lowes for .97 cents and cut it to the size I wanted. I saw this idea on Pintrest and thought I'd give it a try. It was okay but was definitely not as sturdy as a foam base would have been. I also thought it was a bit too narrow. I liked that it was black so I didn't have to worry about it showing through the tulle. However if you make this wreath I would recommend using a different wreath for the base. One like this or this would work better. 


1 base for wreath between 12 and 14 inchs
2  25yard spools of black tulle ( I found them at Wal-mart the amount you need will depend on how large around your base is. I used 2  25yard spools.)
1 yard large rick-rack (also found at Wal-mart. Hancock Fabrics carries it as well)
2 yards of wide orange ribbon for bow and to hang the wreath (again Wal-mart)
Decorations of your choice. (I found mine at Hobby Lobby for 30% off so they cost me less then $2.00 total.)

How To:

Cut your tulle into about 16 inch lengths. I measured out 16" on my table and marked it with two pieces of painters tape. This way I could just unroll and cut between the marks and not have to measure out each piece.

Next tie the tulle around the wreath and knot it in a basic knot. Like if you were tying you shoe laces in a knot: right over left, left over right. Continue to tie the strip all the way around the wreath. Try to keep the knots lined up. As you tie the strips, push them tightly together so that there are no gaps. The more piece of tulle you put, the fuller your finished wreath will look.

Hot glue your rick-rack around the edge where the knots are. Can I just tell you how much I love this orange rick-rack!
My lack of glue gun experience can be seen where I got some on the tulle!
 Now your ready to add the fun stuff. This is where you can be creative and do whatever you want. I made a bow using 2"wide orange ribbon and hot glued a tiny spider in the center. I like the way the ribbon bow came out but wired ribbon would have probably been easier for a novice at bow making. I glued the bow and the Beware sign to lower right side of the wreath

I looped a piece of the orange ribbon around the wreath and hung the Trick-Treat sign from the ribbon. How long your ribbon needs to be depends on how far down on the door you want the wreath to hang.

I had fun making this wreath. Watch out, I have a glue gun now. Who knows whats next!!

Not too bad for a first time wreath maker.