Andi’s Candies!

I know I usually restrict myself to writing about the flavours of China and the arts here, but with Mid-Autumn Festival (in all its hockey-puck-of-a-mooncake glory) coming so late this year (10.3) and what with there being so much to celebrate right now, I wanted to share my mother’s fabulous recipe for saltine brittle.

This weekend marked the celebration of Rosh Hashanah and Eid al-Fitr, and tomorrow brings the Autumnal Equinox, the oxymoron of earth holidays marking the demarcation between light and darkness, celebrating the bounty of the harvest and preparing for the stillness of the land. The resonation of this change within echoes with each increasingly brisk breeze reddening sun-browned skin, with bright eyes that follow the path of each leaf from branch to soil and belie the annual darkness with firelight and vivid pumpkins on the front walk, with smoky warmth and roasted root vegetables, with cider mulled with warming spices and sweetness simmering on the stove.

For many, this day of balance is a time of reflection, a time to take stock of the important events of the past year and to think about filling mental reserves with good things to carry us through the darkness. As I reflect, I remember and love and am grateful, and tonight and tomorrow, with good things of the earth simmering in the kitchen, and candlelight dancing on the walls, will I spend time with those who are beloved and send love, deep and rich, to those whom the firelight cannot touch.

So here is my mother’s recipe, sure to please across cultures and times, and making a lovely gift nestled in tupperware and wrapped with festive ribbons that pay homage to the colours of the season.

Andi’s Candies

1 box regular Saltine crackers
1 regular size bag milk chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 handfuls (1 small bag) sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Cover a baking sheet (preferably one with sides) with a sheet of tinfoil. Line the crackers up in a pale checkerboard across the entire sheet, breaking them to fill in gaps on the sides if necessary.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over medium high heat, stirring fairly constantly for about 5 minutes. Once these ingredients have coalesced satisfactorily (no skim of butter liquid remaining on the surface), slowly pour the contents of the pan over the sheet of crackers. Using a spatula, gently spread the caramel over all of the crackers.

Put the caramel crackers in the oven for 5 minutes (and not a second longer!); the caramel will be bubbly and hot over the crackers. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and pour the bag of milk chocolate chips evenly over the caramel, using the spatula to smooth the chocolate as it melts. Crush the sliced almonds in your hands over the chocolate, gently patting with the back of a spoon to encourage them to stick to the chocolate.

Let the brittle cool until the chocolate has solidified, then peel the brittle away from the tinfoil, breaking it into manageable pieces as you go.

This sticky warming toffee has pleased palates from Chengdu to Chicago, and is deceptively easy to make. I’ll be serving it tonight with roast chicken and bold yellow potatoes and sending some in simple packages to the office tomorrow.

Wishing you a First Day of Fall filled with balance, breathing and bone-deep joy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: