Chocolate Crackles: essential New Zealand party food
When I was growing up in New Zealand in the Seventies, every single birthday party I went to would have a plate of chocolate crackles sitting proudly on the party food table, just waiting to be gobbled by sugar-frenzied, over-excited herds of children. The Seventies seem to be coming back into fashion (to the fashion powers that be, please don’t bring back lamé jumpsuits…..), so I decided to resurrect this old childhood favourite.
And why is the coconut there?
Chocolate Crackles are incredibly easy to make and do not need any cooking, except for melting the butter, so could happily be made with just the use of a microwave. They also have very few ingredients in them, which is probably how some beleaguered parent who had to make some sweet treat in a hurry for their child’s birthday party came up with the idea in the first place: by looking in their kitchen cupboard and throwing what was in there into a pot. It seems that even a Century ago in New Zealand, most kitchens had a steady supply of dried coconut in them, although coconut palms do not actually grow in the country itself. I’m still not sure why coconut is such a ubiquitous ingredient in cake and cookie recipes in New Zealand. My guess is that it was something that kept for months without refrigeration back before aeroplanes existed, so it was an easy ingredient to store.
The origin of chocolate crackles
The first known recipe was actually printed in the Australian Women’s Weekly back in 1937, so this is one Antipodean recipe that I will have to let the Australians own (unlike pavlova). Apparently it was used as a marketing tool to sell a product called Copha; a solid fat made of hydrogenated coconut oil. Kellogg’s jumped on the candy-train in the Fifties, as a main ingredient in the recipe for chocolate crackles was one of their cereals, and took ownership of the name “chocolate crackles”. They tripped and fell flat on their cereal-covered face when they attempted to trademark the recipe a few decades later. Since recipes can’t be owned by any one person or company, their bid failed completely.
You can use butter
As I don’t like the idea of using a vegetable shortening with trans-fats in it, I replaced the Copha with butter. The crackles came out just fine and the Rice Krispies stuck together nicely, just like I remember them doing with the vegetable shortening that was used in the past.
Travel photo of the week
As I have sadly confessed that this recipe for chocolate crackles is not an original New Zealand recipe, I have decided that Australia should be featured in this week’s travel photo section. This is a bustling beach in Queensland, Australia called Mission Beach. We were there in August, which is Winter, but it was warm enough to go swimming, and there were no jellyfish, no cyclones, and no people to be seen anywhere.
- 125 g butter 4.4 oz
- 30 g cocoa 1/4 cup
- 70 g icing sugar (powdered sugar) 1/2 cup
- 40 g dried shredded coconut 1/2 cup
- 60 g Rice bubbles (rice crispies) 2 cups
- Put paper muffin cases into a muffin pan.
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot.
- Turn off the heat. Add the cocoa and stir until dissolved.
- Add the icing sugar and stir in.
- Add the coconut and mix in.
- Add the rice bubbles and mix gently until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.
- Spoon the rice bubbles into the paper cases. Put the muffin pan in the fridge for at least two hours before eating the crackles.
By Lisa Watson