I’m feeling evangelical today. I want to share with you a recipe that will do amazing, wonderful things. Right now, you’re probably a fantastic person. People like you, you are loved, you have friends, your clothes match, and who knows, maybe it’s a really great day and you have a sink empty of dishes or a bed that is neatly made. You’re on top of the world.
But even with all of that, you’re still missing something. And I can give it to you. It’s something that will make you, to put it plainly, popular.
This knowledge will make you the most popular person in your house, your neighborhood, your office, your circle of friends. You’re going to be Oprah popular. More to the point, you’re going to be Oprah’s Favorite Things popular. And I know, because when I make the recipe I’m about to share with you, and I’m packing the dessert into individual sandwich bags to give to friends, I can’t help but shimmy my shoulders, shake my hips, raise my arms out to the world (or my cat) and announce in my best Oprah voice: “Everyone’s getting piiiine baaaaaaark!”
This is some real ish I’m about to share. Get ready. If tradition holds true, making and distributing pine bark will earn you praise, and possibly even random Facebook posts that read something along the lines of, “Pine bark. Mmmmm.” People will hide it from spouses and children. I’m just saying. I’ve seen it happen.
Pine bark is a family tradition at my house. When the weather gets cooler and the leaves turn, my stepdad makes pine bark. When I went to Georgia earlier this month, I was met by hugs, a very excited dog, and a container full of pine bark.
One bite tells me it’s fall. Two bites tells me I’m hooked. And when my hand hits the bottom of an empty Tupperware container, that tells me it’s time to make more.
And the great thing is, this recipe makes so much pine bark, it’s impossible not to share it. And when you do, people take a bite and encounter semisweet chocolate, salty cracker, sweet sugar, the taste of butter, and they look at you in a new light. A popular light. An Oprah light, if you will.
Recipe from my stepdad
1-1 1/2 sleeves Saltine crackers
2 sticks butter (not margarine)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 12-oz package chocolate chips (I like semisweet, but milk chocolate is good too)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large jelly roll pan with cooking spray (make sure it’s not one of those *baking* cooking sprays with flour in it; that stuff will burn and smoke). Arrange crackers salty-side down on the pan.
2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over crackers slowly and carefully, covering each well. (If needed, smooth the sugar mixture over any naked crackers with the back of a metal spoon.)
3. Bake for 6 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
4. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Give the chips a minute to melt, and then smooth them out with the back of a spoon until completely melted. You want it to look like the bark of a pine tree, so don’t worry about getting it ultra smooth; a little texture is good.
5. Chill until hardened and then break into pieces.
Enjoy your pine bark and your popularity!