Spiced Caramelized Graham Crackers
For reference, let's begin with an example of how criminally easy this recipe is. It's so easy that I managed to throw this together at the tail end of a volatile weekend alone with my Sybil-esque three-year-old, the result of my trying to be all Cool Wife and encouraging my husband to head out of town for a reunion weekend with his fraternity brothers.
Summary: Make this super simple recipe; three-year-olds can age you 12 years in two days; playing Cool Wife will only serve to bring you down.
If you happen to have a small person on your person most hours of the day for any length of time, you will quickly learn the magic of graham crackers. Akin to currency, there is no situation that cannot be remedied with a graham cracker when dealing with a young child. Unless that young child is my child, apparently. Because I'm telling you what, people--the fervent nature, the sheer intensity with which my kid battled me all weekend on any number of topics (Let me do it myself!, I DON'T LIKE SOCKS TODAY!, Not THAT kind of grilled cheese!!, etc.) left me shaken, completely exhausted and, in turn, rendered the trusty graham cracker powerless. I wasn't sure if layering them with a slick of caramelized butter and sugar would help, but hey, I needed to do something to keep me from hurling myself off the roof.
So can we all agree that there is no combination more perfect right this second than butter, dark brown sugar and some warm autumnal spices? Heat it all together, let it bubble for a couple minutes until it looks so luscious that you could bathe in it (except, hey, don't--boiling sugar burns big time), and then throw in some heady vanilla to make it all even more crave-worthy. And the salt! The salty edge here is what always gets me. It makes it completely impossible to eat just one. Crisp, caramelly, a bit of chew, a bit of nuttiness. Sigh. It almost makes me forget that I nearly died from parenting yesterday.
Spiced Caramelized Graham Crackers
Double the recipe by using a whole box of grahams and two baking sheets, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. But I can't be trusted with two batches of this stuff, so I'm recommending the amounts here.
The spice here is soft and warm, which I love. For more spicy heat, I'd up the ginger.
Makes about 2 dozen pieces
12-14 full sheets of honey graham crackers (about 1 1/2 packages from a 3-package box)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sliced almonds, for sprinkling (about 1 generous cup)
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Arrange the graham crackers snugly in the pan, covering as much of it as possible (break a few crackers to fill in any gaps).
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Melt over medium high heat, stirring often. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the caramel evenly over the crackers. Use an offset spatula to quickly smooth the caramel over the surface. Sprinkle generously with the almonds. Bake until bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking time. Cool completely on a wire rack before breaking into pieces.