It’s bound to happen about once a year: that even me and food can grow apart. But just for a short time, and of course, the break is easily remedied.
Hosting a Christmas party, packing, a 2 day train ride, and a week with much-missed family and friends has kept me from these pages. But I’m back, and I’v got a sweet little gift to share with those of you who have still got time to check your favorite food blogs during this busy season.
But first, a confession: I’m 28 years old and I have no holiday baking traditions of my own. This is the sad case for two reasons. One, we always return to our parents’ homes at Christmas, where the squares of nuts, chocolate and butter flow freely enough without my help. Two, since we leave our own little apartment in early December, there’s not much time to eat and share the goodness.
And the last thing I want to see upon my return to Syracuse is a freezer full of New Years’ resolution killers. But what is this? you say. A tray of soda crackers hardly a Christmas cookie platter makes! I know it’s a little late, being Christmas Eve, but this favorite of mine deserves proper exposure.
Trust me, these candies will steal the show. Light and crisp and delicious straight out of the freezer, I guarantee they’ll be one of the easiest and most popular goodies on your plate.
Not really a cookie or a bar, these Almond Roca Bars have been a mainstay in my family for years. Think of them as a homemade Skor bar, but so much more fun and imperfect. They come together in a snap, and once you’ve got the base mastered, can be adapted to varying tastes in chocolate and nuts.
Let me warn you that if you’re a health nut like me, you’re going to have to take a moment to calm yourself. First, butter and brown sugar must be melted together in a saucepan. I know this might be difficult for you, as it was me. The key is to take frequent and deep breaths. Acknowledge each ingredient for what it is, and accept that butter and sugar too deserve to find happiness.
As you bring them to a bubbling boil, remember all the leafy greens and whole grains you’ve consumed over the past year. Just let their goodie-two-shoes goodness knock out all those bad thoughts about the dear sweet harmony of butter and sugar caramelizing before you. Think of all those trips to the gym, all those Omega-3’s, all those antioxidants.
Before you start to doubt, finish up this recipe and go break yourself a chunk. Let it remind you that sometimes food can have little value other than immediate pleasure. That food sometimes is more pure indulgence than nourishment. That things can sometimes be, as my mother-in-law says, just because.
And if you’re still feeling guilty, go grab yourself a jar and some red ribbon, and go give it all away.
Almond Roca Bars
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
12 oz package chocolate chips (dark or milk, your choice)
almonds and pecans, toasted (about a cup of each)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray, line with foil, spray again. Line the entire sheet with soda crackers.
- Melt the brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour evenly over the crackers. Bake for 5 minutes until bubbly, remove tray from oven, and turn off.
- Scatter the chocolate chips over the bubbly toffee. Return the whole tray to the still-warm oven for 1 minute to help melt the chocolate chips.
- Spray the back of a spatula with non-stick spray, and spread the softened chocolate over the entire sheet. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Cool, freeze, and break into chunks.