WHAT IS IT: Salty, chocolatey, buttery toffee made with saltines and ready in minutes
WHO TRIED IT: Mark Marino, PEOPLE.com homepage and content director, @mamarino
WHY WE DID IT: It’s a childhood treat I haven’t had in years, and I realized it’s been missing from my life
When I was a kid, I always loved when my Great Aunt Connie’s friend Elsie would visit. Elsie was a big, brassy, loud woman with a wicked sense of humor and a face that could stop a clock. Even Big Ben.
But the reason Elsie’s visits were always a treat was because she herself always brought treats. Namely, Elsie’s Chews, which were saltine crackers coated with toffee and covered with chocolate and chopped pecans. These bite-size sweets seemed very exotic to the 10-year-old me and I devoured them by the plateful. It wasn’t long before my mother learned how to make Elsie’s Chews, but somewhere along the way, the recipe got lost.
Recently I was searching for cookie ideas to use up some ingredients I’ve had in my fridge and cupboards, when I stumbled upon All Recipes’ Saltine Toffee Cookies. I scanned the ingredients — and then it dawned on me: These are Elsie’s Chews!
And then it also dawned on me: Elsie totally didn’t invent this recipe (and yet she named it after herself, which shows you just how big and brassy she was!).
Anyway, since I already had everything I needed to make them, I gave it a go. The recipe, which I tweaked slightly, was effortless and took minutes to make (which is why Elsie had a lot of nerve to name it after herself — it’s not like it was labor intensive), and the results are incredible.
And, dare I say, better than Elsie’s.
Chocolate-Sea Salt Toffee Saltines
1 sleeve (4 oz.) saltine crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup crushed pecans (chopped pecans cut up with a knife or smashed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer)
2 tbsp. sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line a 9-by-13-inch cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place saltines in a single layer on the sheet.
3. Combine brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until well combined and the mixture just begins to boil. Once it starts boiling, stop stirring and let boil for 3 minutes. The mixture should darken, thicken and rise up.
4. Give the mixture one quick stir and pour over saltines. Use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture, making sure they are all covered.
5. Bake saltines for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over saltines. Let sit for 5 minutes, then use a rubber spatula to spread the melted chocolate over the saltines. Top with crushed pecans and sprinkle with pinches of sea salt to desired taste.
6. Refrigerate to set and cut into uneven pieces when ready to serve.
—Mark Marino, @mamarino