The New Bakers Dozen
What's going wrong here?

The The Bakers Dozen: What's going wrong here?
By Adelie (Adelie) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 10:59 am: Edit

I have a really simple cookie recipe that calls for melting butter, adding sugar, and stirring to a clear, dark caramel before pouring it over Graham crackers in a jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and bake for a few minutes.

I know that if you don't stir the mixture enough, though, the sugar won't completely dissolve and the caramel won't stick to the Grahams. But I've been making these cookies for about 30 years, have never had a problem with it, and have shared the recipe with others, who also love it.

I posted it to a cookie recipe swap the other day and got an anguished note from someone who tried it and got a mess. The sugar never fully dissolved and she got a gritty, cloudy mess that ultimately separated into water and rock-hard clumps of sugar.

So I tried it myself and the same thing happened. I tried it again, but first skimmed the milk solids off the butter, which left me with a sort of ghee. And it still didn't work.

Is water now being added to commercial butter?

I've never used anything special for this - its appeal is in its ease and the fact that it doesn't use fancy ingredients. In fact, I call it my "Mom, I Gotta Take Four Dozen Cookies to School Today" recipe because it's so fast and easy - no fancy ingredients, no special skills or techniques.

So what's going wrong?

I owe at least one person a fix for it, and need to edit the recipe I posted so it works again, but don't know how.

Help, please!

By George (George) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 11:18 am: Edit

I think the first step would be to post the recipe.


By Adelie (Adelie) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 11:27 am: Edit

Ok, here it is.

Graham crackers, broken on scored lines
2 sticks unsalted butter
½ c. sugar
slivered almonds


Line a jelly-roll pan with the Graham crackers, putting them as close together as possible.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the sugar.

Stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is clear and medium-to-darkish brown.

Pour the caramel over the crackers and spread with a spatula to cover the entire surface.

Sprinkle liberally with the slivered almonds.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350°.

Let cool in the pan for five minutes before removing.

By Pastrycrew (Pastrycrew) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 04:54 pm: Edit

Hey there, if the recipe's correct, I would suggest that you heat your pan and slowly add the dry sugar inside melting a little at a time until you have all the sugar added and it starts to caramelize to your desired color, then I would add in the butter and stir/whisk it to melt it and maybe "emulisfy" it and proceed with pouring, cooking etc. Butters contain different amounts of liquids but I'm not sure that would make a huge difference. The water mainly evaporates off.

Variation: I make a candy bar similiar to this, but for something like your size recipe I would split the sugar between brown and granulated. Add in 2T of honey and 2T of cream. If you cook on stove top the mixture to about 116C (its a nice golden brown color) then pour and bake, it holds well after sliced. Corn syrup can replace the honey if you don't want the honey flavor.

Hope this helped. brian

By Adelie (Adelie) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 08:28 pm: Edit

Thanks - I'll try it, but I still don't understand what went wrong. I've made this recipe exactly as I posted it about four or five dozen times over the past 30 years and have never had any trouble until now. So I have to believe that something has changed about the ingredients, and the butter is the obvious culprit.

By Chenejaunechef (Chenejaunechef) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 09:11 pm: Edit

this has happened to me a few times, i found out that i was using (unintentially) light butter, i tried with full fat butter and it worked, so that could be the problem, or like pastry crew said, so just try both i guess

By Adelie (Adelie) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 01:43 pm: Edit

Yikes - I've never even heard of "light" butter - what an oxymoron that is!

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 08:12 am: Edit

Water is added to butter these days to increase the weight at a cheap cost. Best to use unsalted butter-it generally has less water. Also the grade is an indicater as to the butterfat content-always use GradeAA or better.
This recipe comes from Kraft Kitchens-they are called "Your Way Graham Break-aways"
-Check it out here:*362&u3=**4*73&wf=9&recipe_id=75139

Also I think your butter content is too high, causing you to burn the butter before the sugar has a chance to caramelize.
I have shot these cookies a milion times. They are easy and kids love em. Endless add-in variety too.

If the link above does not work, go to and search for" Graham Break aways"

By Adelie (Adelie) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 01:10 pm: Edit

I got this recipe from a friend and never thought about checking online for it - thanks. They use brown sugar instead of white, so it'll come out a little different, but I'll try it. I love brown sugar.

I'm the only person I know who always buys and uses unsalted butter - I've never liked the salted kind. And frankly, I've never paid attention to the grade; I buy Knudsen or Land 'o Lakes.

Thanks for the link -

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