Chocolate Crackles are a fairly constant favourite at kids parties here in Australia. During my childhood, I doubt I ever attended a birthday party or school fete where they weren’t offered. Nor would it have been a complete first few years of school if “cooking” chocolate crackles wasn’t included somewhere in the curriculum. They are first referenced with a recipe in the December 1937 edition of the Australian Womens Weeky. It’s funny….they must have a nostalgia factor attached to them as I often watch the adults diving for them more enthusiastically than the kids when they are served at parties my daughter goes to now.
Copha – Just what is this stuff?
One of the reasons I was never hugely keen on Chocolate Crackles when I was little was the Copha they were made with. It always left a nasty greasy coating on the roof of my mouth. Copha is an Australian product similar to Crisco vegetable shortening but more solid at room temperature hence it’s ability to hold the bubbles of rice together. Copha is coconut oil that has been hydrogenated and as such, is a trans fat.
On the subject of hydrogenated fats, here is a snippet from my upcoming eBook – Natural Ways to Turn Moody Kids into Happy Kids (and adults too!) on why you might want to avoid hydrogenated fats
Man Made Trans Fats:
These are, for the most part, man-made fats. Vegetable oil – most of which is polyunsaturated, is put through a process of hydrogenation. This is done by “bubbling” hydrogen through the oil which makes the oil stable and less prone to becoming rancid or “off”. The oils become solid once hydrogenated and the process increases the shelf life of both the vegetable oils they are made from and the goods that these hydrogenated fats are used to make. The problem is, your body doesn’t know what to do with these chemically altered fats. While this process of hydrogenation increases the shelf life of the oil, it has some nasty effects on our shelf life!
In actual fact, Copha is hydrogenated coconut oil. It’s not the coconut oil we should be worried about. In fact coconut oil is as you would know if you have been reading anything recently on health, is very very good for you in its raw organic state. It’s right up at the top of the list of healthy foods. What we should be concerned with is the fact that it has been hydrogenated and has been manipulated into something that nature didn’t intend
Copha containing recipes were developed when chocolate was very expensive. Back in post depression times. It was able to magically turn cocoa and icing sugar into “chocolate” that set. But now that real chocolate is far more within financial reach of most of us, there is really no need to use it at all. It’s also been used in Rocky Road and White Christmas, all Australian confectionery ‘delights’ invented in the face of isolation and economic adversity as Australia was back then.
Turning Chocolate Crackles into Healthy Chocolate Crackles
So, it can’t be very difficult to turn them into something that tastes even better than the original and at the same time make a healthy Chocolate Crackle that could take it’s place proudly in a school lunch box as well. Well to be honest with you, it didn’t take too much ingenuity to come up with this one which I did several years ago for one of my daughters early birthdays. I’ve now seen a few other versions of it around the traps anyway.
Here’s my take on it.
Healthy Chocolate Crackles
- 200 grams Organic Chocolate. (I used 100g milk and 100g 70% dark) – the more dark chocolate, the healthier it will be of course.
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 2 cups puffed rice (not Rice Bubbles as these contain extra sugar, barley malt extract and added synthetic vitamins and minerals.). You can get this from most health food stores or supermarket health food aisles.
- Spread shredded coconut on tray and pop in moderate oven – 175º Celsius/350º Fahrenheit for around 7 minutes until just toasted golden brown. Keep your eye on it. It only needs to turn slightly in colour.
- Break chocolate into pieces and melt in a double boiler or bowl over simmering saucepan until melted (or Thermomix 50º speed 2 for 5 minutes scraping down sides occasionally till melted).
- Place coconut and puffed rice in large bowl and mix together lightly before pouring melted chocolate over. Mix carefully so as not to crush the rice and when fully mixed and coated, place in patty pans the size of your liking or straight into a muffin or mini muffin pan if you prefer. Place in cool area or refrigerate till set.
You could add variations – dried cherries, dried blueberries, goji berries or dried orange peel, pistachio nuts or toasted slivered almonds. Home made Turkish Delight (unless you can find a commercial one that’s not full of nasty additives!) chopped up finely would make a lovely addition. You could add finely ground coffee beans to the puffed rice and coconut before adding the melted chocolate for a more adult taste. Or put a drop of peppermint or orange oil into the melted chocolate. I’m sure the possibilities are pretty much endless.
I’d love to hear your memories of chocolate crackles or any other party food that brings back pangs of childhood emotion. Let me know of any additions to these little gems you can come up with.