FOR YOUR HOLIDAY GATHERINGS and edible gift-giving this year, we’ve put together a delectable savory, and a delicious sweet: Oat Crackers with Ginger Cream and Chocolate-Dipped Walnut Brittle. The little Wheat Thin-sized oat crackers are our spin on a recipe we love from Ina Garten. Their rich flavor and crunchy texture goes perfectly with a spread of ginger cream. And our version of English toffee is a walnut-studded brittle rich with molasses, dipped in dark chocolate, and sprinkled with more toasted nuts. For the candy, you’ll need a candy thermometer to monitor the bubbling syrup until it reaches 300 degrees, the hard crack stage. Use any good quality melted dark chocolate for dipping. When cooled, store the finished brittle in an airtight container in the fridge, or bag it up to give to your friends!
Oat Crackers with Ginger Cream
Makes 8 dozen 1 ½ inch crackers
FOR THE OAT CRACKERS:
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 sticks (1 cup) ice-cold butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ tsp baking soda mixed with ¼ cup lukewarm water
FOR THE GINGER CREAM:
- Four large pieces of crystallized candied ginger, minced fine to make 1/3 cup
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor, pulse the oats for 5 minutes until very finely ground into a powder. In a large shallow mixing bowl, combine oat flour with whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour and brown sugar. Using two knives, cut butter pieces into the flour-sugar mixture. Using your fingertips, continue breaking up the butter bits into the flour until the mixture has the texture of damp sand. Stir in the baking soda water until the mass gathers up into a wettish dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. On a clean worksurface, spread two sheets of plastic wrap to make a 2 ½ foot square. Pat out dough to a large rectangle. Cover with two more sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into small squares. Using the tines of a fork, puncture each cracker with two rows of dots. Place crackers on baking sheets, leaving a little space between each. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool. Serve with ginger cream.
MAKE GINGER CREAM:
Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut each piece of candied ginger into tiny pieces. Stir into mascarpone. Allow to rest for ½ hour for flavors to develop. Serve with oat crackers.
CHOCOLATE-DIPPED WALNUT BRITTLE:
- 5 cups walnuts, divided
- ½ cup molasses
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 cups butter (four sticks) cut into chunks
- ½ cup water
- 2 bars of good quality dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast 12 to 15 minutes until fragrant and golden brown. Remove walnuts to a lightly dampened kitchen towel. Gather into a ball and firmly rub nutmeats with the towel until the skins separate from the nuts. Discard walnut skins. Coarsely chop 4 cups of the walnuts and set aside. Finely chop the remaining 1 cup and place these in a shallow bowl.
Wipe out baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stir together molasses, sugars, butter and water. Continue stirring until mixture heats to boiling. Stop stirring. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and continue boiling, without stirring, until candy thermometer reaches 300°F or “hard crack” stage. (Note: This will take a while.)
When the syrup reaches the hard crack stage, stir in the four cups of coarsely chopped walnuts. Immediately spread onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cool. While the candy cools, melt chocolate in a microwaveable dish for 45 seconds. Set aside. Once cooled and hardened, break brittle into chunks. Dip one side of each piece of brittle into melted chocolate; sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup of finely chopped walnuts. Chill in refrigerator until chocolate is well set. Serve.
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