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Warning: this stuff is addictive [Photographs: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Every year my sister makes brickle for Christmas. She brings it wrapped in these cute little tins covered in prancing reindeer and jolly Santas, as if it's any other innocent holiday sweet. No. Beware the tins! That stuff is crack.

Well, almost. Technically crack (also known as bark) is a confection made with saltines and/or matzoh that's covered in chocolate. Should you be interested, we have some great recipes for bark. Brickle takes it up a level, swapping out the savory saltines for graham crackers and adding a layer of toffee.

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I decided to embrace holiday gluttony early this year and start making my own recipe for brickle. While my sister uses milk chocolate, I decided that dark chocolate would add a needed bitter note and pair especially well with my ingredient-du-jour, cranberries. Walnuts add texture and help counteract the sweetness, but it's really the fleur de sel that ties it all together. (I recommend using the lightest, largest flakes you can find, such as Maldon)

Assembly is fairly easy. Line a baking sheet with foil, then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the pan. Cover the sheet with graham crackers. You make an easy toffee on the stove, then carefully pour it over the crackers. Bake that for 12 minutes, then sprinkle it with chocolate chips. After five minutes, the chips will be melted and you can spread them into an even layer, then top the brickle with your chosen toppings.

The hardest part is surely waiting for it to cool. (Seriously though, don't try eating hot brickle; you will in the best case scenario get melted chocolate all over your face and in the worst case burn your tongue right off). I prefer eating brickle straight from the fridge, when it's all crunchy with a smooth chocolate top coat and the occasional chew from a cranberry. In short, what's not to love? The toffee and cookies are sweet, the dark chocolate a tad bitter, the walnuts nutty, the cranberries fruity, and the sea salt pushes it over the top.

About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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