Gluten Free Vegan Christmas Crack Candy
So, have you ever had Christmas Crack candy? It’s really, really, REALLY good! It’s holiday season now and having a deep obsession for Christmas that I’ve passed down to my Wolf Pack, this is one of the first things I made while decorating the day after Thanksgiving! I honestly never had it until I was an adult and marveled at two things: first, how did it take me so long to try this magnificent pile of deliciousness and two, how is it possible that it is this easy to make???? This is one of the first posts and pictures on my Katie Bakes for Casey Instagram last year and now that the website is up and running, it’s time to give it a makeover. Last week, two days before Thanksgiving, Casey had anaphylaxis to wheat after he snatched his brother’s cookie. We gave him epinephrine immediately and got ourselves a hospital overnighter. Thankfully he is ok, but it’s always discouraging. A fun, easy candy like this is just what we need when this time of year makes it even harder to turn our loved ones away from treats they are allergic to.
The original recipe is simply made with crackers (Saltines are traditional), butter, sugar and semisweet chocolate, a confection that marries the yin/yang of sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy. I had to make this for Casey, but safely. 🤔. Instead of crackers, I used safe gluten free pretzel rods. Casey loves big crunch, like carrots and chips, so I went for thin pretzel sticks. If you have store bought crackers that are safe, then go for it! I go back and forth from pretzels or these, my Best Ever Top 8 Free crackers:
Vegan butter is an easy substitute here, as well as dairy free chocolate. My favorite chocolate is always Pascha, but Nestle has a new line of dairy free, allergy friendly chips now that are pretty good and easy to find. This is a pantry friendly recipe!
The kiddos can get involved decorating the top of the candy after it’s out of the oven, but an adult needs to do the stovetop and oven. The candy also makes a great holiday gift wrapped up in a pretty tin; let’s not just use it for Christmas but any holiday theme! 🎁 It’s so addictive and so easy and giving a safe treat is the best present ever. Be safe and enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season! 💙👩🏻🍳
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs**
Ingredients and Substitutions
Pretzels/Crackers – I choose to use Snyder’s of Hanover gluten free pretzel sticks or homemade crackers for Casey. Saltines are traditional for the recipe, but any safe cracker will work. It’s better if they have a uniform shape for lining in the pans and holding up the sugar mixture as it bakes in the oven. Flavored crackers will not work, but salty is definitely the best compliment to the toffee/chocolate. Here is my safe cracker recipe tailored to all needs if you need:
Vegan/Regular Butter – Your choice of safe vegan or regular butter is interchangeable here. I don’t recommend coconut oil or shortening in this recipe, it is too oily and won’t create the proper consistency for the candy. I use Fleishmann’s unsalted margarine as a safe butter substitute for Casey.
Dairy Free/Regular Semisweet Chocolate – As I always say in my recipes, Pascha is my absolute favorite dairy free chocolate. The taste, texture and quality of the chocolate is wonderful and their customer service is stellar. Nestle also has a new line of dairy free, allergy friendly chips that I use often as well, but more for things like cookies. I really love how the Pascha tastes in this particular recipe. Any safe semisweet or bittersweet chips will work!
Toppings – This is the most fun part!!! Anything you like is what you can use! For Christmas I use candy canes or safe holiday sprinkles, but if chopped nuts are safe for you, they are delicious on top. If you really don’t mind a sugar rush, mini marshmallows are fun but don’t add right away or they will melt.
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs.**
Gluten Free Vegan Christmas Crack Candy
Author: Katie Martino Lopez
Prep Time: With store bought crackers/pretzels– 10 minutes, with making crackers- 2 hours.
Cook Time: about 10 minutes
Total Time: With chilling, about 1 hour.
Yield: About 2 dozen, but it depends on how large or small the pieces are broken.
- 1 stick (4 ounces) vegan or regular butter
- ½ c. light brown sugar
- ¾ c. (6 oz.) dairy free or regular semisweet chocolate chips (I use Pascha)
- One large bag gluten free or regular pretzel sticks or crackers (make sure to have a lot to make up for breakage. See above notes for a safe cracker recipe.
- Safe toppings of choice (see notes above- crushed cany canes, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, chopped nuts)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a half sheet pan with foil, smoothing out the crinkles. Line the bottom of the pan tightly with safe pretzels/crackers. Set aside.
- In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan (it can burn easily so a thin pot is not recommended), bring safe butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium/high heat. Boil at least 3 minutes but not longer, or the sugar will burn.
- Remove from heat and carefully pour evenly over pretzels/crackers. Don’t worry if it’s not totally covered, it will melt and spread more as the heat of the oven warms it. Bake 3-5 minutes, you want to see bubbles for a minute or so. Be careful it doesn’t burn!
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Put back in the oven for oven for 3-4 minutes to warm the chocolate-don’t let it burn!
- Remove from the oven and using a heat proof spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the top. Wait a minute or two for it to cool slightly and sprinkle with toppings of choice.
- Refrigerate at least one hour to set up chocolate and toffee. Break in pieces and try not to eat it all!!
- Christmas Crack will keep in a cool place for one-two weeks. If the chocolate gets soft you can refrigerate, but keep it in a very airtight container for an extended time or the sugar will break down and the pretzels/crackers get mushy.
- The sugar and chocolate get VERY hot, so please be careful if making with the kiddos!
- This makes an awesome, non-perishable gift! Line a gift box or tin with parchment, wax paper or cellophane holiday bag. My boys’ teachers love it!
As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…
Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.
And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!