These chocolate crackles really don’t deserve to be as good as they are. They came about because I had a New Year’s Eve party to go to, and I’m constitutionally incapable of going to a party without bringing dessert – but I didn’t have anything obvious to bring. What I did have was half a block of copha, a bit of tahini, some chocolate, a big handful of random glacé fruit and a whole box of lollies leftover from various Christmas festivities. I also had a strong desire not to actually cook, and a rather messy kitchen with both cocoa and icing sugar still left out on the counter after previous baking events.
Everyone knows that chocolate crackles are what Copha (refined coconut oil, for those of you who didn’t grow up with the Aussie tradition of chocolate crackles and honey joys at every birthday party) is for. And I have always preferred my chocolate crackles with actual chocolate in them. And surely chocolate crackles could only be improved by a whole lot of random mix-ins?
As for the tahini – well, I didn’t really have enough Copha for the amount of mix-ins I wanted to use. But I wasn’t going to buy more Copha, because it really is only for chocolate crackles (and, as it turns out, Lebkuchen, which is why I had it in the first place). I didn’t want to make the crackles richer with butter – I may not be vegan, but if I’ve got a recipe that is perfectly vegan and tasty to begin with, I draw the line at gratuitously un-veganising it – and I was a bit worried that they would be ridiculously sweet. Tahini is a useful sort of fat, and really quite profoundly bitter, at least to my palate, so it seemed like a good counterbalance to the whole ridiculous mess.
And as it turns out, it was. This recipe may look like a complete disaster but it actually balances quite well. And I’ve just realised it isn’t vegan after all, because of my choice of lollies, but since you can make it with whatever lollies you have in the house, I’m still calling it vegan, because it really is as vegan as you want it to be. A note for the gluten-free – Rice Bubbles are not, in fact, gluten-free, but you can buy annoyingly pricey gluten-free puffed rice cereal that would work perfectly well here. Since I had nobody gluten-free to cater for, I didn’t bother this time.
Your Shopping List (or Fridge Dive, depending how you want to play it)
125 g copha
50 g tahini
110 g dark chocolate
3 tbsp cocoa
2/3 cup icing sugar
150 g mixed lollies – I used jaffas, smarties, chopped up jelly snakes, and jelly bellies. None of these are vegan. But there is no reason you couldn’t use any vegan lollies you have in the house – I have it on good authority that Skittles and Toffee Apples are fair game, as are a lot of dark chocolate-dipped fruit and nuts, and I know there are plenty of stores that sell specifically vegan lollies, too. You could also just add 150 g of other mix-ins of your choice.
175 g chopped glacé fruit – I used a mixture of glacé cherries, ginger, apricots and peaches, but any kind would do.
4 cups rice bubbles
Now what will you do with it?
Line a big – 30cm square – cake tin with baking paper, or set out a lot of patty cases. The square tin thing is faster, and I’m lazy…
In a large saucepan, melt the copha over a low heat. Add the tahini, chocolate, cocoa and icing sugar, and continue to heat very slowly until the chocolate is melted and all ingredients are combined.
Add your mix-ins and your rice bubbles, and stir everything together well.
Scrape the mixture out into your prepared tin, or scoop spoonfuls out and put into patty cases. Refrigerate until set.
Eat with joy!
As described above, this recipe is very easily made vegan and gluten-free. It is also nut-free, but please check that whoever you are making it for can eat sesame seeds, as this is a related allergy, and sesame seeds are what tahini is made from.
For those with FODMAP issues, you’d need to use the gluten-free puffed rice, and either skip or swap the glacé fruit – consider glacé pineapple, ginger or orange, or look at freeze-dried strawberries, raspberries or other berries. Other than that, you’re good to go.
This is an incredibly sweet treat and will never be low GI.
Other variations you might consider would include using dried or freeze-dried fruit or nuts to replace some or all of the mix-ins, adding in chocolate chips of different colours instead of some of the sweets. Using chopped up caramels, such as columbines, instead of some of the sweet ingredients could be fun. You could also replace the rice bubbles with cornflakes, or make this into more of a fridge cake by replacing them with chopped up shortbread. It’s very hard to get something like this wrong – provided you have enough things in there that can melt and stick things together but will be solid at room temperature, you’re home and hosed. Have a play!