Baking & Dessert

By Madeleine Ignon | May 16, 2011

Photo: Madeleine Ignon

My birthday is next week, and I’m finding myself thinking back to my last few. On the day I turned 21, I caught an early morning Greyhound bus from New York to New London, Connecticut, the town where I went to college, to catch a ride with a bunch of friends up to Maine. I will never forget that whole week in Vinalhaven, a tiny island reachable only by a ferry from Rockland. One evening, sitting around a raging campfire, wrapped in blankets, our hair and clothes quickly absorbing the heavy smell of smoke, we played a game and giggled until the woods around us were fully dark and quiet. The island is a place of immense physical beauty and grand summer sunsets, but I was more enchanted with the population of year-round residents and the unbreakable sense of community (the population is around 1200).

Photo: Madeleine Ignon

I had the pleasure of sharing an outdoor meal with one Vinalhaven family (which preceded the campfire), and at the meal’s end, a sheet of freshly-made “bark” was brought out. I had never heard of such a thing, but jumped at the chance to try what was clearly a tradition. I had already been convinced to have my first lobster that week, mere hours after being caught, and couldn’t imagine that anything could be more “Vinalhaven” than that. The bark was a perfect mixture of salty and sweet, and took all of 15 minutes beginning to end.

This is my version, although I imagine it won’t ever taste as good as it did in Vinalhaven. It is particularly great around a campfire or on camping trips. And feel free to add any other additional toppings-anything works.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 box saltines, or other salty square crackers
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips(I used a mixture of white chocolate and semi-sweet)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


1. Line the bottom of a cookie sheet (with sides) with aluminum foil. Then line that with the crackers, in a flat grid pattern so that they cover as much space as possible but are all touching.

2. In a pan, melt the butter and brown sugar, stirring frequently, until it's all melted, about 5 minutes. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Pour the butter and sugar mixture over the crackers. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.

4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over top. Put the sheet briefly back into the oven to melt the chocolate a little. Take out and sprinkle almonds and coconut evenly over the chocolate. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours. Break into pieces and enjoy.

More about: , , ,

You Might Also Like:

Featured Recipe

More Recipes

Meet the Team

About The Team

Whether it’s finding the best goat tacos in LA, spotting a well-worn vintage bag in Sweden, or interviewing the “crab man” selling seafood on a corner in Harlem, we tell stories seen from Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s point of view. strives to create conversations about food, nutrition, culture, art, and design. We want to find Read More


Streetbird Rotisserie
Marcus’ Bermuda
Eatery Social Taqueria
Red Rooster Harlem
Ginny’s Supper Club
Uptown Brasserie
American Table Cafe and Bar
Kitchen and Table
American Table Brasserie and Bar
Marc Burger