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Forging new traditions: Saltine brittle

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Project of the day: Simple dessert

Trado, tradere, tradidi, traditum. Our derivative from the latin for ‘to hand down’ is one of the most frequently used words this time of year. Everyone has their favorite traditions: gift giving, decorating, candle lighting, that special holiday dish, gathering, service, or sweater.

But sometimes that old sweater gets torn, or people move away, and the old tradition just doesn’t work. Its hard to adjust to our new conditions, sad to let go of the old traditions.

The traditional christmas eve of my childhood was to gather at my mother’s parents house with her brother’s family for a big dinner and gift giving. We would have tons of delicious food, some of Grammy’s specialties like pearl onions or waldorf salad, and sparkling cider or orange juice with seltzer in it. After dinner we’d lie in front of their fireplace as Grammy read The Night Before Christmas aloud. After we worked through our presents, always organized in piles according to recipient, we’d turn to the impressive spread of dessert. There was usually rumpie, sometimes trifle, and other varying treats, but always tea served with lots of milk and sugar in teeny little teacups.

But Grammy died last september, my uncle moved to Kansas this summer, and Poppop’s getting older. Since it’s just Poppop and my family, we had him over to our house for christmas eve this year. With such a smaller gathering, it seemed silly to have as large a meal. So for dessert after our dinner of salad, carrots, rolls, and a roast, I wanted somthing light and simple.

Sister #2 is a huge youtube fan and discovered and made this earlier this week. It was a hit! So it became our dessert along with ice cream in fun shapes, which goes way back to an old tradition when Daddy was a boy. His grandmother served novelty ice cream from Giffords on Christmas eve and Thanksgiving.

This saltine brittle is delicious and fancier than any of its individual ingredients. It’s easy to make and you probably already have everything already, so its a great thing to throw together if you find out you’re going to have guests in a few hours (or to keep in the freezer in case someone stops by unexpectedly). Its also a fun and tasty activity if you have little cousins visiting, or little brothers and sisters in need of amusement.

I hope you enjoy all your favorite traditions this holiday season, but don’t be afraid to start a new tradition to hand down.

Saltine Brittle

1-2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
10 ounces chocolate chips
1/2-3/4 cups chopped nuts (we used peanuts and pecans)

Preheat oven* to 350°F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper (tinfoil will also do).
Cover the cookie sheet in a single layer of saltines, salt side down.

In a saucepan* melt sugar and butter together. Boil, stirring, until it darkens to a golden brown.
Pour over the saltines and spread evenly.
Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top, if desired.

Bake* for 5-10 minutes, until the sugar is bubbling.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let soften for a minute or two, then spread evenly with a spatula.
Sprinkle as many nuts as you’d like over top and press in gently with your fingers or a piece of wax paper.

Chill in the refrigerator/freezer/outside if its cold** until firm, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge (less messy).

*To make this without a stove/oven, melt and boil the butter and sugar in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Skip the oven step entirely.

**When chilling outside, make sure your brittle is safe from animals. No joke, Daddy chased a dozen very happy squirrels off our back porch : )


3 responses »

  1. Hello! 🙂 I’m an old chummy penpal of Sister #2, and she told me about your blog not that long ago. I geeked because I also have a food blog, and it’s always fun to (sort of) know others that do as well. I’m excited to follow you and stock up on some future college recipes, keep it up!

  2. Its always great to hear from a friend of the family : ) I checked out your blog and your pictures are beautiful! Good luck!

  3. Hi Hannah, Pop pop sent this to me, how wonderful to read about Grammy, she would be so happy, and I loved all the yummy recipes too…”Aunt” Carol from NY….

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