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November 24th, 2008
Recipe Corner: Thanksgiving Toffee

Mercury Food Writer

I know that the pilgrims did not really land at a mythical “Plymouth Rock,” but that hasn’t deterred my acquaintances from using that epithet to describe my Thanksgiving holiday fudge. I have long searched for a fudge recipe that actually produces fudge and, in the process, I have made substances that were either hard as a boulder or as goopy as a swamp.

Every Thanksgiving, I used to go through candy-making sugar-boiling torture.

I can make a decent fudge with the ubiquitous marshmallow/evaporated milk recipes or those that include sweetened, condensed milk, but I have a yen for that old fashioned kind of fudge with the slightly hard, sugary outer layer surrounding a firm but more giving inner one. Recently, I found a recipe in a church cookbook (I seem to collect them; their recipes are tried and true) that seemed hopeful. But, in my fudge-challenged hands, it boiled over, made the stovetop a chocolate mess and what was left in the pan had to be converted, with some effort and several cups of powdered sugar, into a fairly respectable fudge frosting.

I even bought a new candy thermometer to use for the project but, after the heavy-duty pan boiled over, it was coated with hot brown napalm as well.

The worst part of the whole effort for me is that the whole house continued to smell like temptingly delectable fudge for days, yet there is no such thing in the wax paper-lined shoebox in which I placed my ‘Plymouth rocks’.

I have not given up on the fudge, but I have replaced my Thanksgiving holiday fudge disasters with an easy-to-make saltine toffee. I originally used this toffee as a replacement dessert for those who cared little for pumpkin pie, but my pie-eaters kept gobbling this up, too.

Here’s the recipe I use for the toffee. If you have a good baking cocoa fudge recipe, post it for me, if you would be so kind. Hope springs eternal.

Saltine Cracker Toffee


Saltine Crackers (You’ll need a couple of sleeves of them and you can use either salted or unsalted. I like the salted ones best but both work well.)

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar (Or, you can use a full cup of either brown or white sugar. I just like the mix.)

2 sticks of margarine (I’m a cheapskate. I use margarine, but butter is delicious, if you’d rather use it)

1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (Any flavor of baking morsels will yield similar results, but the chocolate is always the favorite around my house)

You can add chopped walnuts or pecans to this if you like. My family doesn’t like them (they are nuts, so they won’t eat their own kind), but nuts make a prettier toffee if you are planning on putting it into tins and giving it as a gift. Hide the tins immediately, though, or all the nibblers in your house will make it magically disappear. It’s that good.


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with tin foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the sides. Don’t use a cookie sheet. The toffee will boil over and make a sticky mess without the edges of a jellyroll (or Texas sheet cake) pan. Lightly butter the foil or use a few spritzes of non-stick cooking spray. Place the saltines right side up on the foil, covering the whole pan with one layer of crackers. Melt the margarine or butter in a saucepan, add sugar to the melted butter and stir it until it dissolves. When it comes to a foamy boil, time it for three minutes. Then, pour the mixture over the crackers. Don’t worry if every cracker isn’t completely covered- when it boils up in the oven the mixture will get to them all. Place pan in oven and bake for five minutes, no longer. After you take the mixture out of the oven (hot sugar so be careful!) sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips. Let it sit for five minutes, then, spread the melted chips out over the whole surface with a spatula. This is the point where you would sprinkle on some walnuts or pecans or almonds, if you want. Let the whole pan cool at room temperature for two hours (This is important. If you cool it in the fridge, the chocolate coating may break off as you are breaking the toffee apart). When it feels cool enough after two hours, break it into pieces, peel off the foil and store in a tin (or a wax paper-lined shoebox). Enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Recipe Corner: Thanksgiving Toffee

  1. Oh Gosh–one more thing. When you make this you are best off using the extra wide foil like you do for the grill or a turkey roaster. I forgot to do this today and spent 15 minutes picking foil off of the back of the toffee where I had used two pieces of foil instead of one extra wide piece. If there’s a seam on the pan the toffee will leak right on through. Also, I put mine in the fridge after I broke it up–it just keeps a bit better.

  2. I was paging through a cookbook today looking for cookie recipes and a slip of paper fell out of the book. It was a little note from my mother (she died 4 years ago) giving me HER recipe for this toffee. I have to admit, hers was always much better than mine and she obviously wanted to share it with you so here it is.

    Preheat oven to 350.

    1 Sleeve of saltine crackers
    2 sticks of butter or margarine
    1 cup of sugar
    chocolate chips

    Line a jellyroll pan with foil and butter it. Line pan with crackers, do not overlap. Mix the butter and the sugar and boil it for 3 minutes. Pour the sugar mixture over the crackers, put in oven and bake for 7 minutes. Take pan out of oven, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and put the pan back in the oven just until the chocolate is melted and spreadable. Take pan out of oven and spread the melted chips over the toffee. Let cool, break apart.

    I do believe the lower oven temp makes a better toffee- thanks mama!

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