Monday, 8 November 2010

Sea salt & cracker toffee and secret recipes




A little while ago I got to taste some caramels made by a lovely lady I used to work with.  I put a piece in my mouth and bang! It was love at first bite.  The caramels tasted just like Daims, which are little Swedish caramels with bits of almond covered in chocolate and are a staple on my duty free shopping list.

Psh, caramel covered in chocolate doesn't sound too flash, I hear you say?  Well my friend, it's not just any old caramel we are talking about here, this caramel is brittle and crunchy without being sticky, buttery smokey and salty sweet without being toothachingly sugary.  The result is totally moreish and very very addictive.  The caramels made by J, were just as crunchy, just as smokey and buttery as my beloved Daims.

I HAD to have the recipe.

Unfortunately, J had been sworn to secrecy from the person whom she got the recipe off of as it was a Family Secret Recipe.  Which, of course, made me even more obsessed with finding out how to make them.

What is it with secret recipes that just makes you want to crack them?  There's really something magical and mysterious about a secret recipe - just look how well it's done for Coke and Colonel Sanders.  It made me kinda wish I had more secret recipes.  Come to think of it I don't even have a single secret recipe. Not one. I'm guess I'm an open book kinda girl, as soon as I get a good recipe I wanna tell the world...Hey everyone! Check this out, it's so meeeeeean!!!!  

J was very apologetic that she couldn't share the recipe but I totally respect baker/recipe-giver confidentiality. One tidbit of info I did manage to squeeze out of her was that J's caramels, had crackers in the middle to make it that bit crunchier.  So pretty much as soon as I got home, I scoured the internet for a like recipe and hit the jackpot with a recipe for Saltine Cracker Toffee or as I like to call them Sea Salt & Cracker Toffee just to be a lil fancy.




When my first batch came out I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. I'd cracked the magic recipe. I'd learnt the Wonka secret.  And to top it all off it was sooooo easy.

I've made these several times now and played around a little with the quantities.  Some batches have come out just a bit sticky so there's definitely room for improvement.  I reckon it's mostly to do with when you start timing your 3 minutes of cooking (you'll see what I mean when you hit the recipe) as I'm pretty sure the chewiness/crunchiness ratio is dependant on the time you cook the caramel.  Although next time I might try and up the amount of sugar to 240g to see how that goes.



The taste of these caramels is bang on.  A perfect balance of salty and sweet.  Do yourself a favour and don't even try to only have one piece.  You will have a hard time stopping at just one at a go. Believe me, you will have a hard time stopping at a couple.

I used Le gros sel marin de Guérande - its a gorgeous unrefined grey sea salt from France.  You know how normal salt pretty much tastes like intense saltiness, well this stuff actually tastes like the ocean: minerally and ozoney. Of course the "in" salt is fleur de sel, but that's super expensive and for the price of a tiny bit of fleur de sel I got a big bag of sel marin de Guérande.   Now, don't get me wrong I'm no salt snob but if you don't have any sea salt, fleur de sel or large salt crystals I reckon don't sprinkle any on the top of your caramels.  It will make the caramel too salty and will just melt into the chocolate - the salted butter and salted crackers should be enough to give the caramels that salty sweet flavour.



Sea Salt & Cracker Toffee

Makes around 25 pieces

240g salted butter, cubed
220g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
300g dark chocolate chips
~ 1 tsp sea salt to sprinkle on top (don't use normal salt, just omit this if you don't have any sea salt/fleur de sel on hand)
optional: 1/2 cup toasted almonds / pistachios / pecans

1 pkt Salada crackers (there are 2 packets per 250g box)

1. Preheat the oven to 200oC.  Line a 22cm x 32cm baking tray with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.  Line with one packet of Salada crackers broken into their 4 little squares.



2. Melt butter and soft brown sugar in a saucepan (heavy bottomed one if possible) over a medium heat, stirring. Take your time with this as you want the butter and sugar to melt at similar rates otherwise it may separate.  Once bubbling vigorously, don't stir it but allow the caramel to boil for exactly 3 minutes. Then take off the heat and add the vanilla essence and swirl to mix.  Don't stir the caramel once it is boiling, you can swirl it around the saucepan to mix.  Also make sure the mixture is a really angry bubbling quite hard rather than a weak lady-like bubbling.

Not quite bubbling hard enough

Now that's about the level of bubbling ferociousness you want

3. Pour the caramel evenly over the Salada crackers and place in the oven and bake at  200oC for 5-6 minutes.

4.  Take the tray out and sprinkle the chocolate chips on evenly top.  Wait around 5 minutes for the chips to melt then smooth the chocolate with a spatula. No need to put back into the oven, the heat of the caramel will melt the chocolate.

5. Crush the crystals of sea salt in between your fingers and sprinkle lightly on top of the chocolate. (You can also add the chopped toasted nuts at this point also)

6. Allow to cool for 2 - 3 hours at room temperature until the chocolate is hard. You can speed the process up by placing the tray into the fridge - be careful though as a sharp drop in temperature could cause the chocolate to bloom and discolour so make sure the tray is cool to touch before you put it in the fridge.

7. When the chocolate has hardened, pull out of the baking tray and cut into little triangles with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container for around one week.

24 comments:

  1. Oh, I LOVE Daim. This looks interesting - hard to believe it tastes the same (crackers?) but I trust you! So this goes on the to-try list (which is getting pretty long, definitely partly due to you!). ;-)

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  2. I am sufficiently intrigued by this recipe! I absolutely adore salt caramels, so this seems like the natural next step. Thanks for the recipe!

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  3. Mrs Cake: Yay for Daim! This is seriously close to Daim! You'll love it. I'm looking over these photos and wanting to make another batch rightaway. Haha I was like that about the crackers too - you have got to be kidding...salada crackers?? But it totally works. You can't really taste them but they have a really funky texture. Maybe layer less crackers on the bottom to start off with? :)

    Leah: There is just something about salt that brings out the best in caramel huh? I couldn't believe how easy this was - no fancy candy thermometers, no danger of hot sugar spitting everywhere. Totally give it a go! Would love to know what you think :)

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  4. Wow these look so interesting and the flavours sound so good. I don't have secret recipes either, I reckon good recipes are meant to be shared.

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  5. Hi, I tried this recipe tonight and you were right. These toffee totally rocked!!!!!! When I went to wash my toffee pot, I noticed there was quite a bit left. So I scraped the toffee off with a spoon and drop them on wax paper to cool. Mmm...that was sooooo awesome!!

    Thanks for the recipe!!

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  6. I love them!!!!!! I'm totally baking them soon!!!!
    yum!!!!!!

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  7. Linno: I absolutely agree! I think Jo Seagar said it best: recipes are like kisses, they're best when given away :)

    Angicock: Grazie mille! :)

    coffeeandpajamas: Yay, super stoked you liked the recipe! I always scoop up the extra bits then lick the spoon and burn my tongue. Every. Time. You'd think I'd learn after a while but it just smells so good, you know?? :P

    Alma: Thanks hun!! Let me know how it goes k? LOVE your cupcakes!!!! :)

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  8. Hi Nessie - I made this and LOVED it. I would like to put it on my blog and link back to this. Is that okay? I was going to email you, but didn't see an email address for you...

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  9. Hey Leah, Yay, so stoked you liked the recipe!!! Of course you can post about it...your blog is amazing I'm hugely flattered! :)

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  10. My sister found this recipe and showed me, immediately we organised a day to make it, that day was the Saturday just gone. And that was the last time I was able to live without being constantly plagued by the thought of that deliciously sweet and salty caramel.... The batch was all gone in one day and so strong was my desire to eat it again, I baked it again 2 days later. Unsurprisingly, it's nearly all gone again. I want it forever and thank you ever ever EVER so much for sharing it!

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  11. Lauren: Oh wow thanks so much for your lovely comment! It is indeed a dangerous recipe - so addictive it really should be illegal huh?! So glad to be able to share the salty caramelly goodness to others :)

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  12. Oh my word, made a batch of this yesterday, and three adults have scoffed the lot in less than 24 hours - my new "go to " recipe. Couldn't believe how quick it was to make..apart from the pesky waiting for it to cool and set.Added some chopped roasted almonds to the caramel too, which added extra crunch but mucked up the smooth chocolate top look a bit. THANK YOU!

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    1. Awesome! Very stoked you like the recipe! It is so dangerously easy to make no? But always takes half the time to eat it... Almonds sound like they would be amazing with it! Thanks heaps for your comment. Made my day :)

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  13. Another batch setting right now (only slightly scorched fingers from "testing" - and you've been added to my favourites bar..Can't wait to give the cherry pie a go!!

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    1. Hehe I think it is a crucial part of baking the "testing". Def needs testing while warm, then to make sure it's still good when cold and then again just for luck :P Hope you like the cherry pie - we gobbled it up in no time!!

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  14. This looks delicious!! Just wondering approximately how many cups 220g of brown sugar is? Thanks!

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    1. I think its around 1 cup firmly packed? :)

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  15. An easy, but incredibly yummy, recipe, that EVERYBODY likes. I have seen feeding frenzies occur whenever Ive taken this recipe to friends houses. Im not a great cook, but love flavors and food. But the way you have written this blog has inspired me to learn to cook more. Thank you! (Australia)

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    1. Oh wow! This is one of the nicest comments I've ever had! So glad the recipe works for ya. A love of flavours and food is really all you need to be a great cook!! :)

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  16. At the end of the recipe you say "store in an airtight container for around one week" That's hilarious! It was all eaten in 2 days in my house. My family are now addicts, my hubby even came home from the supermarket with a box of Salada and a large grin! Thanks for a great recipe.

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    1. Haha I know right?! If I don't give them away I can mow through a batch in a couple of days ON MY OWN! :)

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  17. I didn't get to sample these but Mum was so obsessed she has just sent me the recipe! I'm going to have to make these...hope we can see you soon xx Anna, Zach & Maxy

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    1. Yay love that she loved it! I can pretty much eat a whole batch myself. Although I have to admit I still haven't got it quite right on ancient stove top at our flat in welly yet. It's a bit like muscial elements as to which one is working right and which one will go to MAX HEAT and nothing else. Fun times! Would love to catch up soon! xox

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