Earlier this year I wrote a blog about how much I enjoy the cozy mystery genre of books, especially the ones with recipes included. Murder, mayhem, and food! Yes, people die, but it’s never so gruesome as to make me loose my appetite. The heroine is often in peril, but she always saves herself and solves the mystery in the end. And the settings and characters are ones you want to revisit again and again, which is why most cozy mysteries are published as a series.
Lorna Barrett’s Booktown Mysteries. Her latest is Murder on the Half Shelf, and I think it is her best one yet. Plus, there is a recipe included I just had to try: Simply Crackers Candy.
Early in the book, the protagonist, Tricia (who owns a mystery bookstore) is in need of some serious comfort sweets after discovering a dead body and a former boyfriend who has returned from the dead. Her sister, Angelica (cookbook author and business mogul) digs around in Tricia’s sparse pantry and finds saltines, brown sugar, chocolate chips and butter, which she turns into candy!
I was immediately intrigued.
This candy is amazing! The crackers provide a little crunch and saltiness, while the caramel created by the butter and brown sugar gives it a little toffee sweetness. Of course, the chocolate spread over the top adds to the taste pleasure. Yum!
I plan to take this batch with me today for the staff meeting at the preschool where I teach part time, if for no other reason than to keep me from eating it all!
This recipe just may be this year’s Christmas candy gifts!
Simply Crackers CandyAdapted from Murder on the Half Shelf: A Booktown Mystery by Lorna Barrett
35 saltine crackers (about 1 sleeve)2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips*
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
*I used semisweet chocolate chips. The original recipe used milk chocolate chips, and even suggested peanut butter chips.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 10- by 15-inch baking sheet with foil. Place the crackers on the baking sheet in one layer. Set aside.
In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 3 minutes.
Pour the bubbling mixture over the crackers, trying to cover all of the crackers. (Be careful! The boiling sugar and butter could cause a nasty burn.) Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The butter-sugar mixture will bubble and spread as it bakes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set on a heat-proof surface. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top as evenly as possible. Wait 5 minutes, and then with a spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top. Lastly, sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and lightly press the nuts into the chocolate.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Break the candy into pieces to serve. Keep refrigerated.