07 September 2012

Salty Sweet Nutella No Bake Cookies

I have had trouble coming up with a name for these cookies.  Every year I make what is often referred to as Christmas Crack.  Christmas Crack is a base of saltine crackers topped with a layer of toffee and then topped with melted chocolate.  It's insanely easy and exceedingly delicious.  I saw a variation of this recipe using butter crackers, a.k.a. Club crackers.  So, I took my recipe and kept adding everything I could think of.  I admit it -- I went a little nuts.  

At first I was not crazy about these cookies, or candy, depending on your perspective.  These definitely needed a day for the flavors to meld and mellow.  The ones my husband and I sampled right after the cookies set were almost sickeningly sweet.  The second day, however, was another story altogether.  On day two, these were their own form of crack.  The folks at work couldn't quit eating them.  So, after aging, the cookies got the thumbs up.  More people should make these.  By all means let them age for a day before you dive in.  Your dentist will thank you.  

Salty Sweet Nutella No Bake Cookies
makes about 60 cookies

Print me, Please!!!

1 1/2 sleeves butter flavor crackers (Club crackers)
2 cups peanut butter chips
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Line an 11x7" baking dish with foil.  Spray foil with nonstick spray.  Line the bottom of the dish with a single layer of crackers.  Put the crackers as close together as possible and break crackers if needed to completely line the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with  a third of the peanut butter chips;  set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Stir constantly over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is bubbly.  Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and heat the mixture to 236°, or soft ball stage; remove from the heat.  Stir in the espresso powder, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, and Nutella.  Pour 1/3rd of the mixture over the peanut butter chips and crackers.  Immediately top with another layer of crackers and peanut butter chips, repeating the same steps as the first layer.  Pour another third of the caramel mixture on top.  Then repeat with the crackers, peanut butter chips and caramel one more time.  Top with yet another layer of crackers.

Preheat your oven's broiler.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the last layer of crackers.  Place the pan in the oven under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the chocolate is barely melted.  Immediately remove the pan from the oven and, using a rubber spatula, spread the melted chocolate in an even layer of the top of the cookies.

Put the pan in the refrigerator until cool.  Let cool in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove the cookies from the pan, using the foil to lift them out.  Cut into bars using a big, sharp knife.  

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