I used to call these Mock Kit Kat Bars, but changed the name to Club Cracker Bars because people could never agree on whether they were more like Kit Kats or Twix. That, plus I switched from Ritz to Club Crackers, so a new name was in order.
Names aside, I’ve made Club Cracker Bars twice this week and both times they were a hit. Friends liked the butter, brown sugar and chocolate flavor (of course!), and the crispy crackers made the bars texturally interesting.
For the most part, this is an easy recipe. However, there are some things to keep in mind. First, there’s the filling. Just about very version of this recipe calls for a different ratio of ingredients, but I suspect some people don’t realize how important the salt is. If you use unsalted butter, make sure to add salt to balance the sweet. If using salted butter, you can skip it. But I’ve seen recipe reviews where people claim these are very sweet, and my guess is they are using unsalted butter and not adding salt.
The topping also has variations. Some versions call for butterscotch chips, while others just use milk chocolate and peanut butter. I used to always add butterscotch chips and still like the flavor they add, but I made this batch with milk chocolate chips and peanut butter and they were just fine. Plus they set up nicely. I’ve had good luck with Guittard chocolate chips. They melt smoothly and taste pretty good for milk chocolate chips.
Lastly, the recipe involves boiling a hot sugar mixture for 5 minutes. It’s easy to do, but if you use the wrong pan or use too high of a boil, you risk burning the mixture. To prevent burning, use a thick, non-stick saucepan (mine looks like this) and maintain a steady but controlled boil, stirring all the while.
- 75 Club Crackers, plus a few more if needed
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) salted butter (or use unsalted and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (Should be 1 sleeve)
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 generous cup (a little over 6 oz) milk chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, mainstream type (Skippy or Jif Natural)
- Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)
- Line a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick foil. Spread crackers across the lined pan, pushing the crackers together as closely as possible. See note about anchoring.
- In a heavy, thick, 3 quart saucepan, soften the butter over low heat and mash it around a bit. Don't melt it completely. Remove it from the heat and add salt (if using), graham crackers, sugars and milk, stirring until blended.
- Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. When mixture hits a steady boil, set timer for 5 minutes and keep at a steady but gentle boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so that mixture won't burn.
- Remove from heat and pour half of the mixture over the crackers. The crackers might spread apart, so try to push them in towards each other.
- Arrange a second layer of crackers over the sugar mixture, then pour remaining sugar mixture over the crackers.
- Add a third ( final) layer of crackers. Set aside and make topping.
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Heat on 50% power, stirring at 30 or 50 second intervals until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, you may do this in the top of a double boiler.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the bars, spreading evenly. Sprinkle peanuts on top if desired.
- Let cool room temperature for another half hour, then transfer it to the refrigerator and chill until the top is set.
- When chocolate has set, lift from the pan and cut into bars.