Here’s something spicy, sweet, and easy for my fellow members of Sgt. Pepper’s Burning Mouth Club Band: HOT NUTS TOFFEE CRISP!
Soda Crackers or Saltines (I like Export Sodas)
1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Salted Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 to 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 heaping tbsp Huy Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste*
6 Oz (1/2 a bag) of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
Candied Jalapenos (see recipe below) or Crushed Pepper Flakes, Crushed Almonds, and Sea Salt to garnish
Preheat oven to 350° F
Strain the Chili Paste to remove the seeds and some of the pulp. You can skip this step, but the seeds bite back and it will be hotter!
Toss the paste with the chocolate chips in a sandwich bag until the chips are coated. Set aside.
Line a shallow pan with aluminum foil and grease it very lightly with vegetable oil. Make sure to use a pan with a raised edge to keep the mixture from spilling out. Place crackers in a single layer touching but not overlapping to fill the pan.
Melt the butter over medium heat and break up the brown sugar into the melted butter. Dissolve the sugar and cook until bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add a drop or two of vanilla and the desired amount of Cayenne (I used 3/4 tsp), stirring until well mixed.
Pour the toffee mixture over the crackers and spread it evenly. Bake for 6-8 minutes until the toffee is baked into the crackers and bubbly. As the crisps bake, scrape the remaining toffee mixture off the sides of the cooled pot and lick the spoon. Mmmm, spicy!
Turn off the oven. Place chili-coated chocolate chips evenly on the crisps. Return the pan to the hot oven for 3-5 minutes to soften the chips. While still warm, work quickly with a rubber spatula to spread the chocolate out and garnish it with the candied jalapenos, pepper flakes, crushed almonds, and salt (use the salt sparingly). Wait until you’re done to lick the spatula. Feel the burn!
After sneaking off a little corner piece for yourself, allow the crisps to cool completely. Once it has cooled, break it into pieces as you peel it from the foil. Share, but make sure people know it’s spicy before they put it in their mouths. Don’t be a jerk!
*–I prefer the Huy Fong Sambal Oelek chili paste because it doesn’t have onions, garlic, or other savory spices. You can use something hotter, but make sure it doesn’t have garlic or onions. Unless of course that’s what you’re into (weirdo).
(This is the same recipe I’ve used for candied citrus peel, only I used jalapenos instead.)
3 – 5 jalapenos, chili peppers, or habaneros, seeds discarded (unless you want it extra hot), sliced
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Cinnamon Stick or Cardamon Pods (I like the Cardamon)
Sugar to dust if desired (I do this with citrus peels but not with the peppers)
Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high or medium and add pepper slices, coating in the syrup. Add cinnamon stick or cardamon pods. Cook for 10-15 minutes, checking frequently to lower heat as needed if your stovetop is half as temperamental as mine. (Remember, the longer you cook them the more the heat will mellow, so cool one off and taste it to see if it’s mellowed enough). Strain off the syrup and spread them out on a non-stick dish.
You could use this for other recipes, too. For Halloween this could be made with a mix of orange habanero peppers and red chili peppers. For Christmas, you can mix up jalapenos and chilis. For Chanukah, do whatever you like, you can’t go wrong. Just make sure your Bubbe and Zayde know that this stuff is hot!