Food & Drink

Spiced Dark Chocolate Cherry Saltine Toffee

Virginia Willis transforms a basic cracker into a classic holiday treat

Photo: Hélene Dujardin


    • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers (about 40)

    • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

    • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

    • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste

    • 12 oz. finely chopped 70 percent dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips

    • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • ½ cup chopped pecans

    • ½ cup dried cherries

    • ½ tsp. flaky sea salt, such as Maldon


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed 13-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick foil or spray with cooking spray. Arrange the saltines, salt side down, in a single layer in the pan. Set aside.

  2. Melt 1 cup butter in a large heavy-duty saucepan over medium. Add the brown sugar and cayenne pepper and raise temperature to high to bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes. Immediately pour toffee mixture over the saltines and bake for 6 minutes.

  3. Remove from oven and nudge the saltines back together if they’re floating in the toffee. Set aside for 3 or 4 minutes.

  4. Melt the chocolate over medium heat in the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water. (Or place the chocolate in a microwavable container and melt on low power until smooth, about 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.)

  5. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the black pepper to the melted chocolate. Pour over the toffee and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula. Top with pecans and dried cherries. Let stand to cool slightly, then sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer to the refrigerator to harden completely, about 1 hour.

  6. Pop loose from the pan, break into pieces, and store
    in an airtight container separated with sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper.

Recipe from Virginia Willis, author, Secrets of the Southern Table


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