Christmas Saltine Toffee Bars

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We all have family secrets, right? I’m not talking about that weird skeleton in the closet stuff because that’s for a different time, like when you accidentally down buckets of wine. I’m talking about a family’s secret recipes. As it turns out, my biggest and best Christmas recipes are just that – secrets. Those are the recipes that I’m not willing to share with all twelve of you that read this lil’ ole blog. I guess that’s kind of silly since most of you are family, but here’s hoping a few others are reading!

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A big Christmas tradition my mother and I have is baking Christmas cookies, and along with that comes the perpetual demands from close friends that we make our famous thumbprint cookies. Well, I’ve made them this year and I’ve already shut someone new down when they asked for the recipe (#sorryimnotsorry).

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So now I’m here to share a recipe. While this cookie is just as special to me as the famed thumbprint cookies, it’s one that I can hardly keep secret; the recipe comes on the back of Carnation’s sweetened condensed milk cans.

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This recipe should seem familiar. Some use matzo bread, some leave off the nuts. But Carnation’s is what I know and love. It’s a saltine base with toffee, chocolate, and walnuts. It’s rich, chewy, and salty sweet. Pretty good adjectives for a Christmas cookie, I’d say. Sometimes I toy with adding Maldon sea salt on top, but I think the saltines are all you need. I could put sea salt on top of most things, but I also think it has become a bit of a fad that doesn’t need to go on every sweet treat.

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you can't see it, but the butter/sugar/milk mixture dances and sizzles when you take it out of the oven.

you can’t see it, but the butter/sugar/milk mixture dances and sizzles when you take it out of the oven.

So go ahead, make these wonderful, gooey, crunchy cookies for your friends, family, coworkers, whoever! It’s the time of year to indulge in butter and sugar and chocolate. The spirit of cheer and sharing (except, ya know, some things like secret recipes) is catching!

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*You may remember from my Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts post that I recommended listening to music by Forest Mountain Hymnal while baking for a happy seasonal boost. Well, they’ve got a Christmas album too, called Christmas Hymnal. It’s lovely and not the same songs you always hear (although there’s nothing wrong with the classics, of course) and I highly recommend it.

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Carnation’s Easy Toffee Cookies

Yields about 50 cookies


1 ¼ cups butter, divided (that’s 2 ½ sticks)

1-2 sleeves saltine crackers

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 ¼ cups (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

¾ finely chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt ¼ cup (1/2 stick) of butter. Line a jelly roll pan (about 15×10 inches but there’s some wiggle room) with heavy duty aluminum foil (or else it’s very hard to separate the cookies). Pour the melted butter into the lined pan.
  3. Arrange the crackers over the butter. Like a lasagna, break crackers and fill in the blank spaces where needed.
  4. In the same sauce pan, melt the remaining butter and add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove butter-sugar mixture from heat and add the sweetened condensed milk.
  6. Spread mixture over the crackers and bake for 10-12 minutes, until it’s bubbly and slightly darkened.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for about a minute. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and let stand 5 minutes.
  8. Spread the chocolate evenly, sprinkle with nuts, and cool. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.
  9. Remove the foil and cut into bars about 2×1 ½ inches. Give to all your friends and watch their faces melt with joy.

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