Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Paula Deen's "Pine Bark" or This Month's Disaster

You'd think this was a pretty foolproof recipe. You'd think.

I've read a few of your posts regarding this "candy" as well as reading about it in Paula's cookbooks and I've drooled and said I was going to make it one day.. it sounded so simple to make and the use of saltine crackers really piqued my interest. Crackers made into candy? Interesting, to say the least. I didn't quite know what to expect, but I figured it had to be good.. we're talking a 1/2 pound of butter and chocolate! And just like Paula's macaroons.. this recipe disappointed me.

As usual, I can not say it was a disaster because of the recipe, because I've read a few bloggers' posts on making it and no one else said theirs turned out like mine did. So my guess is it's me causing the chaos, which isn't shocking ;)

Paula Deen's

Yeah.. it's pretty, isn't it? NOT. That was the first clue as to how these were going to turn out. My chocolate would not melt.. I don't understand. When I took the crackers topped with the sugar mixture out of the oven it was bubbling hot. I immediately scattered my chips on top and let them sit until they got all shiny.. when I tried to spread the chocolate evenly, I found the chips weren't melted yet. So I put the whole tray back into the oven for a couple minutes. Well I just don't know what to say. When I took the tray back out the sugar mixture was bubbling again but those freaking chips STILL would not spread evenly. The hell?

At this point I was afraid to put them back in the oven for fear the sugar would burn so I just let them sit hoping they would eventually melt down so I could spread a nice layer of chocolate on top. Mmm hmm.. no such luck. Apparently this bag of Ghiardelli chocolate chips were made with some "non-melting" component.

Okay.. so what? As our (my mom and I) motto goes - it doesn't matter how it looks, as long as it tastes good! Yeah.. no. The sugar mixture, which I assume was suppose to be a caramel type substance was grainy and greasy. The chocolate tasted good, but there were hunks here and either thin layers or none there.. the crackers did stay crunchy, which surprised me. When making the caramel (or reasonable facsimile thereof) I stirred and stirred and let it boil for at least 5 minutes.. it all came together but the sugar didn't dissolve completely.


A waste of ingredients. If any of you have made this and it turned out good.. can you figure out what I did wrong? That was my first attempt ever in trying to make a caramel (again, I'm assuming that was what that was?) I melted the butter in a medium sauce pan and then added the brown sugar. I continually stirred it until it came together and bubbled for 5 minutes (Paula's recipe said to boil for 2-3 minutes but at that point the butter and sugar were still slightly separated). Should I have kept it on the heat longer? It was getting pretty thick and sticky at 5 minutes and that's why I took it off the heat in fear that it would burn. Do I get scared too quickly? Lemme know! Please!

Paula Deen's

hahahahaaaaaaa! What. Ever.

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Comments on "Paula Deen's "Pine Bark" or This Month's Disaster"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9/03/2006 8:28 PM) : 

I have never done that recipe but I make something very similar.
I use Keebler Butter crackers instead. Mine just has 1 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil in a sauce pan and then simmer for 5 minutes. You pour that mixture over the laid out crackers and bake for 6-10 minutes at 350F. Sprinkle 1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips(it helps to use a better with less wax...Herseys would not be good here). Mine also calls for sprinkling 1/2 bag of 12 oz of toffee bits on top. Cool at room temp and then chill in the refrige.
I would say that your chocolate may have been the culprit as well as maybe not mixing the butter/sugar mixture(even after I take it off the stove and am pouring it on the crackers I keep re-whisking it to keep the it all mixed).


Blogger Lis said ... (9/03/2006 9:36 PM) : 

'kay mine is the same recipe other than the saltines and no toffee bits. I think that's where I went wrong with the sugar mixture.. I cooked it for 5 minutes. I should have brought it to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. As for the chocolate, I'm still lost on that one.. I used 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghiardelli - usually awesome chips in my experience.. but not this time.

I so appreciate your tips, maybe I'll try this again (I like your recipe with the butter crackers better!) and re-post when I do. Wish me luck =)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9/03/2006 10:43 PM) : 

Hi Lis,
I make a similar candy, and here are a couple of things that could be the culprit of your disaster: first, I stir the butter-sugar mixture consistently until the sugar is completely dissolved (and this can take awhile). Only then do I bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, I boil it for 3 or 4 minutes without stirring. Then, whisk thoroughly before you pour it over the crackers.

Second, maybe the oven temp.? I bake mine at a higher temperature (400 degrees), so the candy is really, really hot when it comes out of the oven and the chips melt quickly. The last thing is that the weather makes a big difference in how this turns out for me; if it's humid, I can forget getting the caramel to be crunchy. Chewy is more like it.

Good luck!! I hope you figure it out!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9/04/2006 8:14 AM) : 

Well that is so weird that the chocolate didn't melt. So much for the old ad line "melts in your mouth, not in your hands" Boo hoo Ghirardelli chips!

Just wanted to say thanks for the great event that you and Ivonne thought up. I thought I wouldn't be able to make it, but certainly glad that I did!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9/04/2006 8:33 AM) : 

Hi Lisa,
Sorry about that but the past 10 minutes I've been responding to the comments made and every time I'm through, I delete it through haloscan so that I won't make the mistake of commenting on the same thing twice. My comments are more of a message board as I've had trouble going through Blogger before and use a different set up. Now you can rest easy... everything is a-o.k. :-)


Blogger Lis said ... (9/04/2006 8:43 AM) : 

Jennifer.. yours was one of the blogs that I had saw this on which prompted me to make it! I just wish I had paid better attention to your directions. Next batch will be made with peabody's suggestion of butter crackers and your directions of completely dissolving the sugar first. Thank you soooo much for the tips! =)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3/01/2007 7:35 PM) : 

I tried Paula's Pine Bark recipe on Feb. 28 to take to my ladies bible study the next day. Were they ever a hit. I couldn't believe how good they were. One lady said they were sinful & another wants the recipe. I also had a try at melting the chocolate so I just put the pan back in the oven with the door open & spread the chocolate over the crackers. It's all worth the taste in the end & all of mine were gone when I left bible study.


Blogger Lis said ... (3/02/2007 6:22 AM) : 

Hi Michelle - They are good, aren't they? I made them again around Christmas and they turned out perfectly - something I'll make every Christmas now. =)


Blogger LadyConcierge said ... (4/11/2008 12:11 PM) : 

The simplest solution is to melt the chips before topping your crackers. This is what my family has always done. You can do it in the microwave or in a double boiler.

I agree with the above advice about cooking the caramel longer.


Blogger Toni said ... (1/11/2009 8:08 PM) : 

Just made me giggle to view your photos. Sorry, but it just did. I'm making these for our women's event tomorrow and they're turning out well. But I could EASILY have been in your shoes because disasters (of all sorts) find me no matter how well hidden I am.


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