It’s Sunday and having consumed an eight-cup pot of coffee, I am finally going to tackle a few holiday chores after I write this post and when the risk of tachycardia has passed. I could jump right into the chores, but one thing I’ve learned is that if I have even the vaguest urge to write, I’d better do that first. Never squander the inclination to write – words of wisdom for my scribey friends.
So here’s what I need to do today:
First, I am making Christmas Crack and here is the recipe. Read it and drool:
- A bunch of Club Crackers – you’ll need a sleeve of crackers plus a few more to fill one cookie sheet
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar – I bought light, but I don’t think it matters if you prefer the dark
- 1 bag of chocolate chips – I like to use either milk or dark chocolate. I don’t even like to eat semisweet chocolate chips except in a cookie. Not dark, not milk – eh.
- 1 cup of chopped, salted cashews – or however many you have left after eating half the bag watching a Netflix movie last night
- Sprinkles – that’s what makes it Christmas crack as opposed to plain old crack
Preheat the oven to 350. Cover the bottom of a regular cookie sheet (with sides – not one of those sheets open on two sides; yikes – what a mess) with a layer of crackers. Don’t leave any open spots. I am happy to say I finally figured out the way to fill the pan without breaking some crackers into weird shapes to fill corners. See photo illustrated below for brilliant cracker placement.
(I wanted to line the pan with parchment paper, but the paper kept getting bunched up and was sliding around, making it all but impossible to achieve cracker placement perfection. So I gave up and am resigned to dealing with crusted cookie sheet hell later on.)
Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and throw in a dash of vanilla. Does anyone ever actually MEASURE vanilla? I don’t get the point of that. Anyway, bring it to a boil and continue to boil for a minute or two, then pour it over the crackers and spread it out evenly with a spatula. See beautifully boiling concoction below (and is that caramel I’m making?).
Now, when you are ready to pour this stuff over the crackers, be prepared to work quickly and yet as gently as possible so you don’t have crackers jumping out of line, overlapping other crackers, and generally putting your careful cracker placement at risk. That will screw up the end game big time. On the other hand, that caramel-like stuff will start crystallizing and seizing up and will not be spreadable at all if you don’t hop to it. Timing, and gentleness, are everything, when it comes to making crack.
Stick the cookie sheet in the oven for five minutes, then bring it out to sit for another four or five minutes. It must need time to think about what it is about to become. I don’t know. (Oh, crap. I forgot to let the first batch rest and put the chocolate chips on right away.Turned out fine, though.)
Now, sprinkle those chocolate chips across the top, more or less evenly, then put the pan back in the oven for just one minute. Remove from the oven and spread the melted chips across the top (easier than that caramel stuff), then sprinkle on some of the chopped cashews (you could do peanuts if you want to save a little money, which I should do, because I realized I have at least 13 people on my list. Geez.). And don’t forget a nice smattering of colorful holiday sprinkles to make it festive.
After it cools a bit, put the pan into the fridge to harden up. Then cut, chop, or break that stuff out of the pan and give it away as fast as possible, or you will gain five pounds just looking at it. I can testify to that.
This is a slight variation on a recipe created by the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, for the Land O’Lakes butter blog. I want to assure you that I don’t actually follow the butter blog, tempting as that is, but that’s because I generally manage to find enough delicious, fattening foods to eat all by myself without the encouragement of naughty food blogs.
And on to Christmas Chores Part Two
The other thing I promised myself that I would do today is write out Christmas cards. As always, I have a hodge podge of cards – partial boxes (five at last count) I’ve saved over the years combined with the new box I bought last week before I found the leftovers. Needless to say, there will be partial boxes available again for 2016. I am pretty sure that if I send anyone the same card two years in a row, they won’t notice. I know I wouldn’t. If you are sending me a card, feel free to pull mine from last year’s leftovers.
When I first started writing this blog several years ago I believe I wrote a post about Christmas letters. I’ve never been a fan, have you? Those little slices of life highlighting the previous year inevitably focused completely on Everything Wonderful that has happened to this fortunate crew. No mention of Junior getting nabbed by the cops for turfing the math teacher’s front yard or Mom crapping out on Weight Watchers – again. No, I am definitely not sorry to see those Happy-Family-We’re-Just-So-Damned-Perfect letters bite the dust.
However, since no one likes to write anything longer than 140 characters, anyway, the Christmas card-as-Instagram statement is the new trend. No need to actually list all the reasons why life in the XYZ household rocks when all you have to do is SHOW it with a photo of everyone smiling and waving from the gondola during the family’s fabulous vacation touring Italy last summer. Buon Natale, y’all!
For a real slice of life, I’d like someone to come over and take a picture of me with The Boys in the back yard. As the pups cavort in the weeds behind me, I’ll be wielding the pooper scooper in one hand and waving merrily at the camera with the other. And my card will actually say “Happy Holidays,” which I hope you will interpret, with a smile, as saying that I believe your holiday is just as important and cool as my holiday.
Now go make yourself some Crack!