I accidentally bought a cookbook on Thursday. It really wasn’t my fault. I was having a very bad day, complete with cramps and a completely wasted lunch break looking (unsuccessfully) for display folder refill sheets, and as I left the fifth and last shop which didn’t have anything of the sort, I was accosted by a new Women’s Weekly book on slices. Which was completely unfair, because I’ve been wanting to make slices a lot recently, and none of my cookbooks really have the sort of slices that speak to me.
These ones spoke to me. In fact, they spoke to me so loudly that I’ve made five different kinds of slice so far this weekend – for no other reason but that I am in the throes of a baking frenzy – and am seriously considering making more slice after choir tomorrow. Because I’ll be taking some of the existing slices to choir, and then there might not be enough left for all my colleagues on Monday!
Anyway, I will be reviewing this cookbook shortly, but the very first slice I made was a chocolate crackle slice which, naturally, I took one look at and couldn’t resist making vegan… and gluten-free… and alcoholic…
There’s no Copha in this, and it definitely delivers a good hit of dark, dark, chocolatey goodness. It won’t fix your sugar cravings (which is why I then had to make caramel slice… and hummingbird slice… and popcorn slice…), but if you are looking for an adult-friendly version of a childhood treat, look no further…
Your (slightly pretentious for chocolate crackles) Shopping List370 g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely (ideally Lindt 70%. Pretentious, remember? You could substitute in 50 g of white chocolate if you are being particularly clever) 100g almond butter. Which might as well be organic. 175 g golden syrup 2 tbsp Kirsch liqueur (optional but good) 4 cups of puffed rice cereal (note that if you are avoiding gluten, rice bubbles will not be appropriate here – I found properly gluten-free rice puffs in our health food aisle)
Now what will you do with it?
Melt half your chocolate (ie, 175 g, and including all the white chocolate, if using). My recommendation is to do this in a large glass bowl in the microwave (50%, stirring every minute for about 5 minutes. Don’t skip the stirring, you don’t want your chocolate to seize – but if you are using white chocolate, try to keep it separate from the dark). And if you use a large glass bowl now, you can use the same one later and save on washing up, so make sure your bowl will fit 4 cups of puffed rice, plus a lot of chocolate, OK?
While the chocolate is melting, line a 23cm square tin (or a 20 by 30cm tin) with baking paper. I’d do two layers going in opposite directions, so that you have a bit of a handle later.
Pour the melted chocolate into the tin, and spread it around. If you are using white chocolate as well as dark, this is where you try to be all cunning and marble the chocolate with a skewer. I mucked this up, but you may well do better, since you probably won’t be doing this at stupid-o-clock on a Friday evening while feeling extremely cranky and exhausted and *still* with the cramps, yet strangely compelled to Bake All The Things.
Now melt the rest of the chocolate in the same bowl you used for the first batch, only this time, melt the almond butter with it. Mix in the golden syrup, then the rice bubbles, and last of all the kirsch, because the kirsch will make the mixture seize up and become really hard to mix. You might find that the mixture is a bit stiff anyway, because almond butter doesn’t go as liquid as copha or butter do. But it’s worth it.
Spread all of this on top of the melted chocolate, pressing down gently, and stick it in the fridge. It will take an hour or two to set.
When set, cut into squares. You could dust it with cocoa powder at this point, but I actually found it to be quite chocolatey enough. I know, hard to believe, but it’s true.
Oh, these are endless! Any nut butter would do (though peanut butter would be very boring, so don’t disappoint me). Hazelnut would be particularly lovely, and then you could use Frangelico later. You don’t have to use liqueur, by the way. I just figured that adult chocolate crackles should be alcoholic too.
In terms of allergies, your big issue here is obviously the nut butter. Coconut butter would be suitably pretentious and tasty instead. Cocoa butter would probably cause you to die of chocolate poisoning, but what a way to go… Or you could go with butter, which was the Women’s Weekly idea in the first place.
You could put other stuff in with the chocolate crackles – glacé cherries, to bring out the kirsch, perhaps, but I rather like these plain. I did notice a sort of praliney taste to them, so it might be fun to add a bit of praline into the mix if you were feeling fancy. I thought it would be fun to mix some strawberry powder into the chocolate, but it had all clumped up and was too difficult, so I didn’t bother. I stand by the theory, however.
They really are pretty awesome as they stand, however.
This time last year…Proof of concept? Recipe: Raspberry, Soy and Coconut Ice-cream