With this classic Christmas treat, saltine crackers get a double dunking: first in caramel and then in chocolate.
The result is a salty, crunchy, chocolate-covered treat that's nearly impossible to stop eating.
Video: How to Make Christmas Cracker Candy
What Is Christmas Cracker Candy?
Constant stirring as you make the caramel mixture gives you a finished candy that's closer to the texture of pralines than English toffee. You have a deep caramel flavor, but the bites are fairly soft and easy to chew. The crispiness comes from the crackers themselves.
You can get fancy and sprinkle nuts, coconut flakes, or holiday-colored sprinkles on top if you want, but I’m a purist when it comes to my Christmas cracker candy. I like it just as is.
The only thing I might consider is a sprinkling of crunchy Maldon sea salt on top of the chocolate to make them even more crunchy and salty. But I’m fearful that if I do that, I might not stop eating them!
Is This the Same As Christmas Crack?
We used to call this delicious treat "Christmas Crack," which is its most common name. But several readers wrote asking us to change the name because it makes light of something that is a very real addiction for many people. We agree, hence this recipe's new name "Christmas Cracker Candy."
How Prevent the Layers From Separating
The chocolate layer separating from the caramel layer is a common problem with Christmas cracker candy. Here are a few tips to help prevent that from happening:
- Use chopped chocolate instead of chips, and the chocolate layer will be more likely to stick. Chocolate chips have a non-melting coating to help them keep their shape. But when they melt, the coating can prevent the chocolate from sticking to the toffee.
- Avoid chocolates with a really high percentage of cacao. These chocolates have more of a tendency to become brittle and separate from the cracker layer.
- Make sure your chocolate is fully melted so it's ready to go when the saltine toffee layer is ready.
- Let the toffee layer cool for 1 minute and no longer! The toffee needs to still be quite warm for the chocolate to stick. (If you forget and the caramel cools, just pop it back in the oven for a few minutes.
- If your chocolate isn’t melting or spreading easily on the hot toffee (or caramel and crackers) in the sheet pan, use a hair dryer to re-melt the chocolate until it’s workable. Or pop the pan in a 300°F oven for a minute or so.
- Cool overnight in the fridge (not the freezer). Freezing means the layers cool rapidly, which can sometimes cause them to separate. If you need to freeze, let the crackers warm up for about 10 minutes before cracking.
Sometimes despite all your best efforts, the chocolate melts at a temperature that makes it shrink when it hardens, pulling it away from the toffee layer. Next time, try a different brand of chocolate.
Ways to Adapt This Recipe
- Swap the saltines for Ritz crackers, graham crackers, or any other cracker
- Swap the dark chocolate for any other favorite chocolate. Or add a drizzle of white chocolate over top!
- While the chocolate is still melty, sprinkle on a half cup of chopped nuts, coconut flakes, crushed pretzels, dried fruit, or anything else that strikes your fancy!
Get more ideas in this post: 5 Ways to Top Your Christmas Cracker Candy.
More Easy Holiday Treats!
Christmas Cracker Candy
- 28 to 35 saltine crackers (about one sleeve, enough to line your tray)
- 1 cup (220 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup (225 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (10 to 12 ounces) good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Line a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick aluminum foil (preferred) or regular heavy duty foil, making sure that the foil completely covers the bottom and sides of the pan. If using regular foil, spray lightly with baking spray. Line the saltine crackers in a single layer on the bottom.
Make the caramel sauce
Place the brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium sized saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 5 minutes, just until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to darken. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
(Note: You're not actually making true caramel here, so you don't need to be as precise or worry about the temperature of the caramel. Just make sure it comes to a boil and wait for it to darken slightly, then continue.)
Pour the hot brown sugar mixture over the saltine crackers
Spread to evenly coat the crackers.
Move the pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes
The caramel will be hot and bubbly.
Melt the chocolate
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook it in the microwave in 30-second intervals at full power, stirring between each cook time, until the chocolate has melted.
Pour the chocolate over the baked crackers
Once the crackers are done baking, remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 minute exactly, until the caramel is no longer bubbling. Then pour the melted chocolate over the crackers. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the top.
Chill the crackers overnight
Let the crackers cool to room temperature then move to the refrigerator and cool over night.
Crack the crackers
The crackers will form a single sheet once cool. Remove from pan and gently peel the foil away, being careful not to tear the foil. (If any bits of foil tear and get stuck in the caramel, break those bits away and discard.) Cut the candy into snack-sized pieces using a chefs knife (you can use your hands, too, but I find it easier with a knife).
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.