The first is….(da da da daaa!) The Okapi.
This is an okapi…in all of its unphotoshopped glory.
Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you knew this animal existed in real life?
I mean…I like animals. I’ve been to zoos. I’ve taught in an elementary school and know a surprising amount of obscure facts about many animals (!sloths are excellent swimmers!). Heck, I’ve even lived relatively near the central African habitat of these fine creatures.
But until a few months ago, I had never even heard of an okapi, much less seen one. And they really look like this. Apparently this giraffe-zebra lovechild is all the rage with the preschool set, but I’m guessing a few of your fellow employees might also be new to this craziness.
So, the next time you’re at a party, awkwardly sipping your drink and on your fourth brownie because you don’t know how to talk to that cute guy from two cubicles over, the okapi is your ticket. Bring this bad boy up on your phone and smile as you see people flocking towards you to gaze in wonder at the mighty okapi.
Or…you could just stand next to party trick #2: these chocolate caramel toffee cracker desserts. Sure, go ahead, laugh along with the other party-goers as they ooh and ahh and come back for fifths, wondering at your dessert-making prowess. Watch every last one of these toffee pieces, sweet and salty and slighty crunchy, fly off the plate, and then come home and make yourself another batch (since they take about 25 minutes) because there will be no leftovers.
This is a seriously easy dessert, friends. You lay down a layer of crackers on a foil-and-parchment-paper lined baking sheet. I used matzo crackers for the Seder meal, but saltines would be mighty nice in there as well. Then you make a simple caramel from butter and brown sugar, pour it over the crackers, and bake it for about 15 minutes. All that’s left then is to drop chocolate chips over the top, let them melt, spread, and then give your toffee a little flair with some sea salt and nuts, if you please.
Then, let the scarfing commence.
Now you’ve got it. Chocolate Caramel Toffee Crackers. Okapi. Party Game Face. Go.
recipe curated from Smitten Kitchen )
(yields one 11x17" pan, broken into whatever sized pieces you wish)
This chocolate caramel toffee cracker dessert couldn't be easier. Sweet, salty, crunchy love. I made this recipe exactly as it was originally posted on Smitten Kitchen because I couldn't think of one way to improve on it.
4 to 6 sheets matzo* or approximately 40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 c. (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 c. packed brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
parchment paper and foil
*I bought a box of hexagonal matzo crackers by accident. It still worked after I jigsawed them together in the bottom of my pan, breaking some in half to fill in the gaps along the edge.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet (with sides) completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.
Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzo or crackers, covering all parts. [Press a butcher knife down on the matzo or saltines to break pieces to fit all the way to the edges of the baking sheet].
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzo or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.
Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening. (I ended up turning my oven down to 325* after 5 mins and my edges still got a little burnt. Watch out!)
Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts and/or sea salt. (The sea salt is great on matzo. On saltines, it’s really not necessary.)
Once completely cool — break it into pieces and store it in a container for up to a week.