It’s been a bit humbling for me not to be able to do much cooking (or typing) with my bum hand and shoulder. Especially when Christmas is only days away. So I’ve been trying to find super easy Christmas treats that can be knocked off at the last minute. I figured at this time of year, everyone needs something easy, bum hand or not! And when that recipe is as good as these Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars no-one will guess just how easy they are.
Some people call bars like this Saltine Bars or Saltine Toffee. This goes way, way beyond toffee! There is just something about the salty/sweet contrast of these bars. Make lots of these bars. Trays of them. Because it’s hard to stop eating Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars and you’ll want some for gifts or to take to the office, too.
About Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars:
I kind of get a kick out of these bars made with saltines, and I love that the hardest part of the recipe, literally, is laying out the saltines in the pan and spreading the chocolate chips on top in an even layer! And then you just have to remember to a) save some chocolate chips for the drizzle on top and b) don’t forget to add the crushed crackers over the chocolate layer before you drizzle the condensed milk over. Umm – don’t ask how I know this, lol!
When you eat these bars, you’re going to find a delicate crunch from the saltine, a bit of gooieness and layer upon layer of chocolate, crunchy nuts and then the condensed milk in the recipe is going to cook down to caramelly goodness. This is a fun recipe to make with kids and it’s even more fun to watch how proud they will be to serve them. This is the kind of recipe that can spark those children into a lifetime of loving cooking and baking. (And eating, lol~)
There are lots of names and lots of variations for this little treat and I think this is one of the best versions with all this chocolate. You’ll have to give it a try and see what you think. And as far as names, one name you’ll never hear pass my lips is a recipe with the word “crack” in it. I find nothing fun or funny about that. It’s SO highly offensive. And you never know, do you, if you’re touting about that name and serving to someone who’s lost a loved one to crack addiction? Sub in the name of another disease or drug & if it doesn’t sound “nummy” there’s your litmus test. Cocaine Bars? Date Rape Bars? Opiod Bars? Hey, someone has to put up a stand against that trend. And my heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones to that insidious drug I wish I could wrap you all up with all the love in the world. Bloggers are always advised by “experts” to stay positive but enough is enough.
Making Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars:
Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars remind of the old Seven Layer Bars or Magic Bars as they were sometimes called, only they are not quite the extravaganza those bars are and I think are about twice as good! They have more of that salty/sweet deliciousness. And of course, you don’t have to build a press in the pan graham cracker crust for these. If you’d like, though, you can add layer after layer of goodies to these bars just like you might for those old seven layer bars.
You can also customize Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars so many ways. How about using Dulce de Leche instead of Condensed Milk? I have an easy homemade Slow Cooker Dulce de Leche right on my site. I like the idea of chocolate & coconut. A layer of each of chocolate chips and Andes chocolate chips (there are SO many fun chips these days!) would make a great mint version. Maybe you’d like to use a layer of chocolate chips, a layer of butterscotch chips and add crushed peanuts. There is really no way to go wrong! No matter how I choose to vary these little bars, I do like to use two bags of chocolate chips or some other chip of choice, whether I keep those chips to one flavor or go with two different kinds. If economy is an issue, you can get by with one layer, though.
Now a sleeve of saltine crackers is usually about 35 to 36 crackers. 24 of those will fit in the pan (you’ll need to knock of the corner of 4 saltines) and then the idea is to crush the rest over the chocolate layers. I like to only crush a few of the extra crackers on top. It’s just my preference, and I’ll use five or six crackers. I also think these bars are even better the next day. Beware, they can be a bit tricky to cut and you may lose bits and pieces of the bars. Some will be sticky enough to just shove back on, but the rest? Cook’s snack? Lol! I have tried cutting them upside down and right side up, and right side up seems to work better; just try to peek under so you can cut along the cracker lines.
Saving Money on Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars:
During just about any holiday is the best time to buy crackers, whether plain old saltines or a fancier version. In my area saltines are often included in sales that buy so many for so much money, like buy 2 Nabisco Saltines for $5.00 and sometimes they are included in sales that might have a variety of products from the same producer. Since my store no longer doubles coupons, I don’t use them as much but I do try to watch around the Winter Holidays when there are so many coupons it’s a no-brainer and the sales are worthwhile.
Baking items like Chocolate Chips and Condensed Milk are always going to be on sale during the Winter Holidays and at Easter. Really, it is worthwhile to stock up at a low. Aldi, if you have one, is a great place to pick up either of these items.
Condensed Milk keeps for a long time in the pantry. Sometimes as it ages, it will discolor just a bit – that’s from the sugars slowly turning into caramel, and isn’t dangerous in any way. So if you ever open a can to find the condensed milk is a bit brownish it’s still perfectly usable and will have just a bit of a caramelly flavor.
Chocolate, too, keeps for a good amount of time, especially if it isn’t going through a lot of temperature changes. That can cause “bloom” (a whitish powder) which again, isn’t a safety issue. Don’t toss it, use it for baking if you don’t think it’s attractive enough to eat. Chocolate bloom can actually be fixed by slowly melting the chocolate and pouring it into some kind of container that can act as a mold. You can read more about chocolate bloom at Wikipedia.
Saltine Cracker Caramel Bars
- 36 (one sleeve) Saltine Crackers, divided
- 1 package (12 ounces, about 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided 1 3/4’s cup for the bars, 1/4 cup for the drizzle
- 1 package (12 ounces, about 2 cups) milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped almonds (or another nut of choice)
- 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
- cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 13 x 9″ pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; spray with cooking spray paying special attention to corners of the pan and where the bar edges will touch the foil along the sides.
Arrange 24 crackers, salt side down, in single layer on the bottom of prepared pan, knocking off the corner of four crackers to fit in the corners of the pan. Crush remaining crackers and set aside to sprinkle on bars before the condensed milk goes on.
Reserve 1/4 cup chocolate chips to use as a topping later. Sprinkle the remainder on top of cracker layer in pan. Top with the crushed crackers. Pour condensed milk evenly over ingredients in pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. or until lightly browned. Turn pan front to back at about 20 minutes so it browns evenly. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Once bars are cool, melt the reserved 1/4 cup chocolate chips. This can be done in a double boiler but it’s easier to just put chips in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and if chocolate isn’t completely melted, place back in microwave and go for another 30 seconds. Let cool until easy to handle. Transfer to a Ziploc bag, snip off a small corner at the bottom.
Remove bars from pan using the foil “handles.” Pipe chocolate across the cooled bars. Cut into bars or break into reasonably sized pieces after the chocolate drizzle has hardened.
- Substitute pecans, walnuts or roasted peanuts for the almonds.
- Substitute bittersweet, milk or dark chocolate chips or any other chip of your choice.