During the summer, things loosen up quite a bit around St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Sunday School is, of course, suspended for the summer. So there is the unfortunate hour-long gap between the 8:45 service and the 11. Episcopalians hate to be at loose ends. We like planned activities. So we fill up that hour with eating and drinking. Not alcohol, of course. We do that after lunch.
The 10 a.m. summer coffee hour is, like the 8:45 service, a little looser than the noon coffee hour after the 11. Silver serving platters are not required, although I can’t seem to shake the habit. Paper plates are just fine as is plastic cutlery. The food served at the 10 a.m. coffee hour may be homemade or purchased. It is, after all, summer and nobody is going to get their panties in a wad over some cheese straws from the Publix.
So my turn for coffee hour was this morning. I actually love doing it because it gives me a chance to trot out all the forbidden foods that, if left to our own devices, Mark and I would consume with ferocious gusto. The menu today was sausage balls, ham rolls, banana bread, saltine toffee and, to make sure we all had our serving of fruit, grapes.
Let me tell you about this saltine toffee. It is the most amazing transformation of humble saltine crackers I have ever witnessed. I first had this at a chicken cooking class. The teacher’s wife made it and I had eaten about half the platter before asking her what in the world was in it. Saltines, she said. Really? Really. I got some great chicken tips that day but the real winner was the recipe for the saltine toffee. Everyone at coffee hour this morning was just raving about it, which made me want to claim that I invented the recipe, which I sadly did not. However, I did switch the chopped pecans in the recipe for chopped hazelnuts and “they” do say that if you change one ingredient in a recipe you can claim it as your own, so I may just use that loophole since I don’t know where this recipe came from to begin with.
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a rimmed cookie sheet with saltine crackers in a single layer.
Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour the mixture over the saltines and spread it to cover crackers completely.
Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces.