Save Your Saltines for Chocolate-Caramel Cookies

chocolate-caramel cracker cookies

The last time I hoarded leftovers, everyone must have laughed their faces off.Some people bring home entrées; others take home french fries. I do both and then some, like the time I doggie bagged bread cubes that were meant for the fondue pot. I had the last laugh when I turned them into Nutella bread pudding and made everyone jealous.

It gets even better: the other day I used leftover saltine crackers (from Hill Country barbecue) for chocolate-caramel bars. I’m not one to relish in packaged foods and refined flour, but the saltines are key. I tried a similar recipe with homemade graham crackers, but you really do need a flimsy base to soak up the toffee. A fancy “crust” will only break your jaw. I haven’t gone crackers: these are even surpass the chocolate matzoh crunch that’s become popular of late.

chocolate-caramel cracker cookies

Bittersweet Chocolate-Caramel Cracker Cookies

Adapted from Deep Dark Chocolate by Sara Perry

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, divided
35 saltine crackers
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
10 ounces premium dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)

For topping:
1 cup toasted unsalted nuts, chopped medium coarse or
1/2 cup cacao nibs or
5 teaspoons fine salt (such as fleur de sel or gray sea salt), turbindado sugar, finely ground espresso, pepper, spice blends/rubs

Special equipment: a 10-by-15-inch pan

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). To make the cookies easy to remove, line a 10-by-15-inch pan with a sheet of foil, shiny side up, leaving a few inches hanging over the longer edges. Drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter onto the foil-lined pan, and brush to cover the bottom of the pan. Line the pan with the crackers (don’t worry if there are small gaps).

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1 cup butter and the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, until the mixture forms a thick syrup (248°F/120°C on a candy thermometer). Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the condensed milk until blended. Pour the mixture over the crackers, making sure all the crackers are covered.

3. Bake until the syrup layer bubbles, for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven, scatter the chocolate over the topping, and allow them to melt for 5 minutes. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread the chocolate over the surface and sprinkle with the nuts, cacao nibs, salt, spices, etc. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, press the nuts into the chocolate. Freeze until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.

4. Remove from the freezer and invert the pan onto a clean surface (don’t worry if you lose some nuts from the surface; they’ll be great for topping an ice cream sundae or for adding to cookie dough). Carefully peel back the foil to reveal the soda-cracker underside of the cookies. Using a sharp knife, cut the cookies along the cracker outlines. This is easier to do when the cookies have begun to thaw slightly. Invert and cut the squares into quarters for bite-size pieces or thirds for finger-size pieces.

Buy Deep Dark Chocolate
Buy Deep Dark Chocolate by Sara Perry

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  1. maris said,

    Excellent idea! I always have saltines that I never know what to do with before they expire or become stale.

    April 26, 2009 at 1:23 am

  2. Eliana said,

    What a great use for left over crackers!

    April 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

  3. Anna said,

    Yum! I’ve eaten my share of cracker candy, but I’ve never seen a version made with condensed milk.

    April 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

  4. Yuzhi said,

    Can I order a batch?

    April 27, 2009 at 12:59 pm

  5. Fabjena said,

    Looks so yummy, i love chocolate! :))

    May 12, 2009 at 6:05 am

  6. Leanna said,

    These are the best cookies EVER and so simple to make! Because they are rarely served, it becomes a great conversation topic. If you are more partial to the "sweeter" side of desserts (not that the sugar, condensed milk, and butter aren’t sweet enough), you can substitute the Saltine Crackers for Graham Crackers. You can also use candied nuts for the topping as well. Personally, I perfer the salty-n-sweet combination of the Saltine Crackers with salt sprinkled on the top. 🙂

    July 1, 2009 at 3:27 pm

  7. Sweet Freak said,

    My mom has made these for Christmas the past coupe of years – yup, I love ’em.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:26 am

  8. Bonnie said,

    Both the fries and the chocolate cracker things look amazing.

    December 31, 2009 at 12:40 am

  9. Wendy said,

    These look like so much fun, I’ll have to try them. In reference to making the toffee and graham cracker cookies, I actually do a version of those commercially (very small scale), but taking it to different extremes. I don’t make a homemade graham cracker because it’s not cost effective for me, and any extra toffee just makes them even more yummy. To avoid breaking your jaw, I always suggest that they be served at room temperature (especially the caramel apple variety I do), but some of them are really good cold! You can check them out at But now I have to try these too!!

    January 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

  10. diane sydow said,

    Has anyone tried this recipe using gluten-free crackers?

    September 26, 2010 at 7:12 pm

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