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.
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.
Ways to Top Your Cracker Candy
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
- Easy Fantasy Fudge
- Homemade Chocolate Truffles
- Peanut Brittle
- Peanut Butter Buckeye Balls
- Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Christmas Cracker Candy
Feel free to add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts or coconut flakes on top once you’ve poured the melted chocolate.
You can use darker chocolate with higher percentages of cacao, but these chocolates sometimes become brittle and separate from the cracker layer.
We recommend cooling this candy overnight in the fridge since cooling in the freezer can cause the chocolate layer and the cracker layer to separate when you break the candy. If you need to freeze, let the crackers warm up for about 10 minutes before cracking.
28 to 35 saltine crackers (about one sleeve, enough to line your tray)
1 cup (220g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (225g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (10 to 12 ounces) chopped good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 400°F:
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. Place 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 often, for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture comes to a boil and in color and sugar melts and emulsifies with the butter into a smooth sauce. Do not allow the mixture to boil longer than 30 seconds. 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 throughout and not just the edges and wait for it to darken slightly, then continue.)
If you're nervous about your caramel turning out grainy, use a wet pastry brush to wash the sides of the pan as the caramel cooks. This will help to make sure all of the sugar melts evenly. Keep in mind that a brown sugar caramel has a different texture than traditional caramel, with a sandier, softer texture.
Pour the hot brown sugar mixture over the saltine crackers:
Spread to evenly coat the crackers.
Move the pan to the oven:
Bake for 5 minutes. The caramel will be hot and bubbly throughout.
Melt the chocolate:
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook it in the microwave in 30-second intervals at full power, stirring each time, until the chocolate has fully melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total).
Pour the chocolate over the baked crackers:
Once the crackers are done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute exactly, until the caramel is no longer bubbling and the crackers settle back into place. 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 chill 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 or in the freezer between layers of parchment paper for up to 2 months.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||26%|
|Total Carbohydrate 14g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|