Monday, October 26, 2009

Milestone Birthdays and Saltine Toffee Cookies

On Saturday my siblings and I traveled to Danbury, Connecticut to celebrate three birthdays. This joint celebration was a true surprise for my Aunt Jeanne’s 90th birthday as well as her daughter Ginna’s 50th and Ginna’s huband Dave’s 50th. They knew there was a party coming up. Aunt Jeanne thought all the preparations were for Ginna and Dave; Ginna and Dave thought the party was going to be for Aunt Jeanne. Thus the surprise for all! My cousins Jeanne Marie and Jim carried it all off beautifully, though their order for a sunny day never came through. Thank goodness for warmer temperatures that day and for the very large tent that protected us from the deluge of October rain.

I’ve written about my Aunt Jeanne’s special iced tea in an earlier blog. She’s such a lovely lady, and since my mother Virginia (her “Irish twin” sister and life-long best friend) has been gone for seven years now, she serves as matriarch—not only to her own eight grown children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren—but also to the seven nieces and nephews of my family, and our children and grandchildren as well. You’d think we’d all get lost in that huge DNA gene pool she’s overseeing, but not so. She asks about each and every one of us, keeps track incredibly, and cares for each one individually. The legacy of such a caring woman is that her children are equally good people. Maintaining family ties is important to them, and the party this weekend is an indication of just how much they value these important relationships. I’ve often said that we’re closer, having been raised many miles apart, than many cousins and families who live in the same town. My cousin John said it all when he told us “It means so much that you came.” It does, to all of us. I look forward to the next time, and the next time, and all the next times that we will be fortunate to enjoy with each other.

It turns out Ginna happily made desserts for what turned out to be her own party. In addition to the cake provided by Jeanne Marie and Jim, Ginna made pumpkin cheesecakes and something I’ve never had before: saltine toffee. Before you say “What?” I have to tell you that this stuff is incredible. It’s a home-made version of a heath-bar like confection, covered in chocolate and melts in your mouth. The cracker is interesting: it’s visible but has only a subtle presence, adding a little bit of that sweet-salty ying-yang that works so well. The recipe that follows comes from, a good resource with rated recipes, which I love because it provides a good barometer of success. This one comes very highly rated. They call it “Saltine Toffee Cookies” but don’t be fooled, it’s candy, through and through.

Saltine Toffee Cookies

4 ounces saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer.
In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread t cover crackers completely.

Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes.

pread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Photo and original recipe can be found at :

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