This year, the Christmas season around my place is a little simpler than usual. And I am loving it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the season as much as ever. But instead of going into auto-pilot this year with all of the parties, the decorating, the spending, the cooking, the go-go-go-ness of it all…I decided to just focus in on a few of my absolute favorite things this year and enjoy the mess out of them. Examples?
Christmas music. Ohhhh baby (it’s cold outside!), I am totally one of those people who adores Christmas music. And with only 4 short weeks this year between Thanksgiving and the end of December, you’d better believe that I’m soaking it up (on the housetop). I am listening to thesethreeplaylists (you can too!) non-stop, my Pandora station is set to all things “holidays”, I’m one of those people who totally jams out to the cheesy holiday station on the radio, and I may have even broken out a few of my old-school Christmas (-time is here) cds for a party. It’s merry, fun, and basically a free way to soak up the season, and I love every minute of it. Also?
Relaxing holiday gatherings. Emphasis on relaxing. For me, that basically means any sort of gathering, happy hour, or party where I’m around friends I already know and majorly love (vs. the years of obligatory Christmas-Party-Mingling-With-Strangers Past). It means some cozy dinners, some impromptu dance parties, some movie nights with fuzzy slippers, some drives around to see Christmas lights, whatever sounds merry and chill. And quite simply, it just means the events that I want to go to, not that I feel like I have to. And being totally cool with a few “silent nights” at home too, to just cozy up and be still and soak up the season. (And maybe watch some episodes of The Good Wife, which I’m still mega hooked on!!) Also?
Fun holiday baking. For me, the season is already busier than normal. So if I want to bake, I don’t want it to take up an entire afternoon or evening. And I could care less about fancy; give me fun. So when the moment of decision came about what to make for a movie night at my place this week, I decided to follow a whim and whip up one of my favorite quick and easy, 5-ingredient treats that my mom used to make for us as kids. (I’ll give you one guess…)
Graham cracker toffee!!!
Graham Cracker Toffee Recipe | 1-Minute Video
Did anyone else make this stuff growing up?!?
Well, in my house, we actually called them graham cracker treats. I didn’t realize that they resembled toffee until later in life when I actually learned how to make toffee, and realized how ridiculously easier (and arguably just as tasty!) this speedy graham cracker version actually is. And it’s true that all you really need are just 5 ingredients:
Well, the fifth is whatever you want to top these with. Nowadays I like to use chopped pecans. But I was picky about nuts as a kid, so my mom usually made me batches with just extra chocolate chips on top. For the holidays, though, you could sprinkle crushed peppermints, or those Andes chocolate chips, or sprinkles, other nuts, or even extra toffee chips if you’d like. The topping sky’s the limit. But the basic recipe is the same as it has always been.
Just line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. And then squeeze as many graham crackers as you can in a single layer.
Heat some butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan until they get all bubbly. Then pour the mixture on top of the graham crackers and spread it evenly across the top. Pop the pan in the oven and let the butter mixture get a little more cooked and extra bubbly. Then remove it and sprinkle on a bunch of mini chocolate chips all over the top. Wait a few minutes for them to get all melty and gooey, then spread them around, leaving a few places where the butter mixture can still shine through. Then sprinkle on your favorite toppings, and let the tray cool to room temperature.
You can then break the toffee into individual pieces at this point. But what I recommend — which I learned from my lovely mama — was to pop the tray into the freezer for an hour or so instead until the bars get totally frozen. And then remove and break them into pieces, and eat them chilled.
I don’t know why, but I swear these bars are so much better frozen.
And then — since these bars took you less than a half hour to make — you can spend your extra time however you darn please.
If you’re going at full speed this year attending All The Events and making All The Cookies and decking your halls with All The Decorations Imaginable, I sincerely say power to ya. I hope that your holiday is filled to the brim with all things merry and meaningful and bright.
If anyone else is like me — perhaps home with a little She + Him on in the background, a few friends sitting around the couch in our slippers, a pup snuggled up beside me in a very handsome Christmas sweater, munching on our (ahem) fourth pieces of graham cracker toffee, I send a happily relaxed “cheers” your way.
This 5-Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee is quick and easy to make, and feel free to sprinkle it with whatever topping sounds good!
14–16 sheets of graham crackers
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line an 11 x 15-inch baking sheet (or jelly roll pan) with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If using aluminum foil, mist it with baking spray.) Arrange graham crackers touching side by side in a single layer, breaking some of the graham crackers in half if need be so that that they fit. Set aside.
In medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring constantly. Let the mixture boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and pour over graham crackers. Use a spatula or spoon to spread the mixture evenly over the graham crackers. Bake for 6-7 minutes or until the butter mixture is bubbly.
Remove pan and immediately sprinkle the the chocolate chips evenly on top of the graham crackers. Let sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is melted, then use a spoon to spread the chocolate around as much as you’d like. Sprinkle nuts (or your desired topping) evenly on top of the melted chocolate.
Let sit for about two hours and them cut and serve. Sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I will cool the cookies in the freezer for a quicker serve time.