Praline Chocolate Crunch

As I peered through the window of the door I squinted, looking through the falling snow trying to see how many people were standing in line. It was 5 am in the morning, the day of Bag A Bargain’s garage sale. The day we had prepared for all year. The merchandise was organized and waiting for our community. There were clothes for families, furniture for homes, and toys for Christmas. Two hundred and fifty tables were crammed with merchandise.

As I looked out the window Jack Henderson said, “Are you ready?” Jack was my friend and fellow Bag A Bargain board member Rebecca’s dad. Jack was my bodyguard and he was dressed to brave the cold with a heavy jacket, gloves and hat on his head. I had so many layers of clothes on that I looked like a stuffed sausage. My apron was filled with dollar bills and change. We didn’t charge much to get in, just enough to cover expenses. When my apron was full of one dollar bills I would empty them into the pockets of Jack’s coat.

Looking out the window I saw men, women, teens, college students and sleepy children. People were lined up as far as the eye could see waiting to get out of the snow into the warm auditorium. Two of our friends rolled a cart up behind Jack and I filled with piping hot coffee and cups. We were ready.

Jack opened the door with a twinkle in his eye. I knew he and I were thinking the same thing. Hopeful everyone would find what they needed and the Junior League of Johnson City would make money to give back to the community. the Junior League didn’t keep any of the money. After expenses were paid the rest of the money was given to non-profits who benefitted women and children. It was a win for everyone involved.

Jack and I stepped out the door and the wind took our breath away. All that was forgotten the moment we greeted the first person in line. “How long have you been in line, I said?” ‘Two hours’” she said. Jack and I both thanked her for coming and waiting in the snow. After taking her entrance money and answering any questions she had about the merchandise and its location we moved on to the next person.

After 2 hours we reached the end of the line and the doors opened. Jack and I still had a day’s worth of work ahead of us but were grateful for all the wonderful people we met, grateful for every League member who had worked so hard to make Bag A Bargain a success, and grateful for each other.

This was Jack’s favorite candy. Marjorie, his wife, used to make several different versions of this candy with saltine or wheat crackers and different kinds of chocolate or butterscotch chips. I hope you enjoy this candy as much as Jack did!

Praline Chocolate Crunch (Christmas Crack)

40 saltine crackers
1 cup unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon iodized salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup toffee bits (I use Heath Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee bits)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and parchment paper. Place saltines on top of parchment paper. Bring butter, salt and brown sugar to a full rolling boil. (That’s when stirring won’t stop the mixture from boiling even in the middle of the pan.) Boil 3 minutes stirring the entire time. (The butter and sugar will separate if you don’t stir the entire 3 minutes.)

Remove from heat and pour praline sauce over saltines. Quickly spread sauce with a spoon over all crackers. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips evenly over crackers. Wait 5 minutes then spread melted chocolate chips over the surface of crackers with a knife. Sprinkle toffee bits evenly over chocolate. Gently press the toffee bits into chocolate. Freeze until hard. Break into pieces and store in zip-top bags. Hide your personal stash in the freezer behind the peas so no one will find it. Enjoy!

Published in The News and Neighbor on November 30, 2016

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