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[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

This year, instead of buying tschotskes that my friends and family will have to dust until they end up in a yard sale or on eBay, I'm trying to make as made homemade gifts as I can. One of the first recipes that came to mind for holiday gift giving was my beloved Chocolate 'Crack'—it's easy, it's inexpensive, and it's absolutely impossible to pass up. But it's even better with a winter-appropriate peppermint spin.

The basic recipe consists of saltine crackers (or matzo!) topped with melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and chocolate. Upon cooling, the butter and brown sugar form a rich and crunchy caramel without the fuss of candy thermometers.

To get fancy for the holidays, I suggest that you top your basic bark with crushed candy canes. Or try it with chopped crystallized ginger, roasted nuts, cacao nibs, white chocolate drizzle, or candied citrus zest—really, whatever your heart desires. For maximum deliciousness I recommend using the best chocolate you can lay your hands on. As long as you do, I can guarantee there will be no re-gifting.

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Peppermint 'Crack' »


Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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