HAVE A CRACK AT THIS
TAKE SOME SALTY CRACKERS, CARAMEL AND DARK CHOCOLATE AND TURN THEM INTO A TOTALLY ADDICTIVE TREAT
This is a very wrong sort of dessert concept, involving as it does a salty cracker that was promoted during our youth for its easy snappability into “bite size, snack size and man size” portions. However, it turns out the Salada biscuit is gnawingly addictive when blanketed with hard caramel and given a shiny topcoat of dark chocolate. It’s not called “crack” for nothing.
SALTED CARAMEL ‘CRACK’
Serves 10 INGREDIENTS
1 x 250g pack of Salada biscuits 200g butter
185g (1 cup) soft brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract Generous pinch of salt 200g dark chocolate, chopped 50g slivered pistachios
15g dried raspberries METHOD
Rummage through your baking trays to find one that will fit three Salada crackers in one direction and four in the other. You can of course snap them to fit if you can’t find quite the right tray, but this is the sort of surface area you’re after. Line your baking tray with foil and then baking paper, and lay out the Saladas in a single layer.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat, then cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. The caramel should be thick and gloopy, and bubbling away sullenly. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Take the caramel off the heat and quickly pour it all over the Saladas. Smooth with an offset palette knife or spatula, if you have one; if you don’t have one, get one immediately – for real, it will change your life. (Also, this would be an awesome time to remember that you forgot to preheat the oven. All is not lost: jack it up quickly – 180C/160C fan, OK?)
Now, into the oven with the lot for 15 minutes, or until the caramel has darkened to a deep gold. Keep an eye on it, as the caramel can quickly turn. When it’s a good dark colour, remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate over the toffee. As the chocolate melts, use your spatula to spread it out evenly – this is extremely satisfying. While the chocolate is still soft, sprinkle over the pistachios and raspberries.
Allow your salted caramel “crack” to cool (not in the fridge, please), then snap into pieces and store in an airtight container. Images and recipes from Special Guest by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe, Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99. In what has become a bit of an annual occasion, Hugh the Neighbour and I sat to taste and compare this year’s release of the James Squire Hop Thief (number 9) to last year’s release (number 8).
Hop Thief, for those not in the know, is an American West Coast-style pale ale, that each year is made using a different blend of hops.
I first remember paying attention to Hop Thief 6 which was made with Simcoe and Columbus hops, followed by HT7 (Galaxy and Mosaic hops), and then HT8 (Crystal and Cascade hops). Hop Thief 9 is based around citra lupulin and calypso hops, and is a worthy successor to the line.
Pouring a clear deepish amber in the glass, it delivers a good whack of fruit on the nose. In the mouth, you get real citrus flavours however there is a backbone of maltiness that separates this from some of the mouth-puckering pale ales from the US and many progressive craft brewers in Australia.
Having kept a couple of bottles at the back of the fridge from the Hop Thief 8, Hugh and I were able to contrast the difference the selection of hops can make to a beer – and the difference is considerable.
HTN actually preferred the number 8 to this year’s offering (although he reckons his favourite was the number 7 from the year prior) and I could see what he meant as the malts were more pronounced in the number 8.
Hop Thief is a pleasant tipple, and I reckon really worth trying every year just to appreciate the difference ingredients make to what is basically the same process done over and over a again. Give it a try this summer. firstname.lastname@example.org