Sometimes, during those long days when I hit a life rut, I think about writing a cookbook... because that's a thing people do and it helps me focus on what I love.
And browning butter.
And making stacks of graham cracker candy.
I think it would be full of imperfect bundt cakes... because I don't have the patience to sift powdered sugar.
I would stuff peanut butter cups inside cupcakes... because even a plain vanilla cupcake is capable of being something extraordinary.
It would probably be called Stacks on a Cake Stand... because that's my style. It's who I am. Own it!
And be real: there would be an entire chapter on brown butter.
We learn who we are by doing the things we love.
Baking teaches me that magic happens when you least expect it... usually right before you give up. Molasses and sugar become brown sugar, butter finally browns, and butter and sugar become smooth vanilla frosting. It teaches me to follow that thought that wonders if there's such a thing as a white chocolate cranberry s'more... or if you can ever really have too many cake stands.
Running teaches me to keep moving forward, one step at a time... and it teaches me that I'm capable of anything. I can beat my last mile time. I can run at 6 MPH without falling flat on my face. I can shut down that voice that tells me to slow down or give up. I'm stronger than I think and the good things I want in my life are worth fighting for.
Too deep? Let's talk brown sugar and graham crackers.
One of my favorites things to bake is cracker candy. The possibilities are endless! A bubbling, caramel-toffee glaze of butter and brown sugar poured over a layer of salty-sweet crackers is the perfect blank canvas for any flavor, holiday, or season.
Just look at all the combinations I've made so far...
Saltines + chocolate + crushed almonds = chocolate almond cracker candy
(Every Christmas I bake at least two batches... it's my most requested holiday treat!)
Graham crackers + marshmallows + M&M candies = Christmas s'mores candy
Buttery Club crackers + chocolate + peanut butter chips + sea salt = salt river bars
Graham crackers + marshmallows + Hersheys chocolate = graham cracker s'mores candy
(my most popular and most pinned recipe!)
Cinnamon graham crackers + pumpkin spice marshmallows + white chocolate + toasted pecans = pumpkin spice s'mores cracker candy
(I love this combination... and it's the first thing I baked in my new apartment last fall!)
Today's combination is inspired by fall... and one of my favorite seasonal flavors (besides pumpkin!): white chocolate cranberry. Maybe I'm just ready for Christmas and cranberry bliss bars. Either way, let's make white chocolate cranberry s'mores a thing.
This is what I imagine fall looks like.
Graham crackers covered in that sugary-rich toffee glaze and sprinkled with puffy marshmallows, white chocolate chips, tart dried cranberries, and toasted pecans.
So addicting, as rich as fudge, full of fall flavor, and as easy as melting butter, sugar, and sprinkling everything ever over graham crackers.
This is fall baking. In and out... and out the door to find pumpkin spice lattes.
White Chocolate Cranberry S'mores Cracker Candy
12 sheets of graham crackers
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang over the ends, and spray foil with cooking spray. Line graham crackers up on the foil so that the sides are touching.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and mixture comes just to a boil (about 4-6 minutes). Remove from heat and pour evenly over crackers. Bake 5 to 6 minutes, or until bubbly.
Remove pan from oven and immediately sprinkle mini marshmallows, white chocolate chips, pecans, and dried cranberries over the crackers.
Return pan to oven for another 2-3 minutes, or until marshmallows begin to soften and puff up.
Cool completely. Lift from pan using foil edges; cut into bars and enjoy!
Source: Inspired by my graham cracker s'mores candy.