nosh friday: love bark
Welcome to the first Nosh Friday!
I will now be posting up a new recipe every Friday (and possibly more often, but let’s start at one), now referred to as “Nosh Friday” — unless someone more clever than I can come up with a better name. (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)
This Friday features what my friend Chip has aptly (re)named “Love Bark.” It comes from a recipe found on the ever-witty Smitten Kitchen — as soon as I saw it used saltine crackers and chocolate, I was hooked. I have a fondness for Nutella and saltine crackers (and on occasion, I admit, leftover frosting and saltine crackers) — I love me some sweet ‘n’ salty combinations. With that said, it.is.FABULOUS. I brought this stuff to three separate functions (in order to keep from eating it all myself) and it got rave reviews everywhere I went. I was quite sure at one point that I was going to be chased through the office when I ran out.
So I present to you: Love Bark!
40 saltine crackers (give or take — a little over one full sleeve’s worth)
1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (60% cacao was perfect)
1 cup chopped and toasted hazelnuts (or another nut if you prefer)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lay out the saltines on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and parchment paper (trust me, I normally ignore these types of instructions out of environmental concern, but you really don’t want to do that for this recipe).
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and stir it (I found whisking worked better to combine it in the beginning) over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it is boiling, let it do its thing for three minutes. stirring it well with a wooden spoon so it is completely combined. After three minutes, remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, stirring well. (Whatever you do, no matter how tempted you are, DO NOT LICK THE SPOON. You will be very sorry — and so will your scorched tongue.)
(How can that much butter be bad?)
Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the crackers, spreading well as it will start to cool very quickly. Once all the crackers are covered, pop the tray into the oven, baking for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the little fella, as sugar can be quick to burn.
While that bakes, chop and throw about 1 cup of hazelnuts in a dry skillet. Toast over low heat, tossing the nuts often to keep them from burning. Once you can begin to smell that hazelnutty scent and the nuts look golden brown, take off the heat.
Shortly after this, it will be time to take those caramel-drenched crackers from the oven. (Be most careful — it is HOT and the crackers were sliding around in a pool of caramelly goodness.) Generously sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, letting them sit for a few minutes to begin melting and perfuming the air with that heavenly chocolately aroma that makes one want to weep.
Using an offset spatula, spread the melting chocolate over the top evenly. Once the chocolate is distributed, sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts over the top. Let the crackers cool completely (you can let the fridge speed up the process if you want) and then break into pieces, storing in an airtight container.
Be warned — sharing of this stuff will make you many new friends and perhaps invite seductions, proposals and large embraces from people who normally don’t even smile. Enjoy! I have a large pile of dishes I have been tenderly ignoring that must be tended to.