Crunchies!

Crunchies have taken our kitchen by storm!  My guy is from Johannesburg and said his mum used to make Crunchies for him and his sisters.  I started searching on google and found this great recipe on www.africanbites.com   I haven’t changed anything except that I don’t include the almonds as my daughter takes these to school and summer camps which have nut-free policies.  These yummy bites are simple to make and can be an easy introduction for kids to use the stove top.  

http://www.africanbites.com/crunchies/

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces butter
  • 11/2 tablespoon golden syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry shredded coconut
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • 1½ cups of oats
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon spice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg spice

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 8×8 or 9×13 baking pan/sheet if you want a thin crunchies – grease or spray with cooking oil. Set aside
  2. Melt butter, syrup, brown sugar, sugar and salt in a saucepan, until completely melted. You may do this in a microwave safe bowl. Then add baking soda. Mix.
  3. combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl – oatmeal, flour, coconut, sliced almonds and spices. Thoroughly mix.
  4. Pour butter mixture into the bowl of oatmeal mixture , mix well.
  5. Press mixture into a greased baking pan. You may use parchment paper to smooth it out.
  6. Start baking at 325 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes , then finish at 300 degrees minutes for another 10 minutes or until golden brown ,depending on your oven. Start checking after 20 minutes. Remove let it cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. You may store in an airtight container for up to a week

I like to bake mine at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for another 15 minutes.  I find they come out a deep golden brown.  The edges are the crunchiest and the butter flavour is yum!

I’ve tried a few variations like adding raisins and orange juice to change things up but the results are great since it goes really crumbly for some reason.  That being said, if you do find they turn out really dry when you start playing with the recipe, just crumble it over yogurt or ice cream with some fresh fruit, like peaches or nectarines, for a totally different dessert or breakfast treat!

Banana Bread …. It Feeds the Creative Mojo

Getting the creative juices flowing and pouring hours into crafting is hard work and you need a break to re-fuel every once in awhile.  When I am working on a project, be it with hook in hand or on my sewing machine, there is a favourite go-to snack.  In my house, we call it “B Bread”, there’s no need to mention the full word “banana”, that’s wasting time that could be better spent eating.  Pairing beautifully with a tea or coffee, this banana bread is flavourful, moist and you can’t stop at just one slice. As soon as my kid sees a group of three bananas browning on the counter, she gets giddy.

Where did this recipe come from?  Sad to say I didn’t think this beauty up myself.  Back in the early 80s, my elementary school published a cookbook as a fundraiser with contributions from various families.  My mom gave me her copy years ago.  The cover is long gone, her notes are in the margins of food stained, dog-eared pages — all the signs of a much loved cookbook.  It has become a family heirloom of sorts.  With everyone remaining anonymous, I wouldn’t have a clue who the baking goddess is who came up with this recipe but whoever you are, kudos to you!  I’ve tweaked a few measurements and added a couple new ingredients over the years with the same results ~ yum, yum, yum!!

So here you go….

  • 4 tbsp margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (if on the smaller size, add another banana)
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt (table or sea salt will work)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • (optional) ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toasting the nuts first adds a richer, nutty taste)
  • (my optional my add-in) ¼ cup dark chocolate chips  (sometimes I just sprinkle these on top of the batter before it goes in the oven — satisfies the chocolate craving but doesn’t overpower the banana-ness of the bread)

Note regarding using margarine over butter =  I’ve discovered you can substitute unsalted butter for the margarine, the difference in taste is negligible but even as a staunch butter-lover, I am convinced the margarine does taste better.

Preheat oven to 325ºF, with a rack in the centre.  Using either your stand mixer or hand mixer, cream margarine and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy; add the beaten egg and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Alternating, add dry ingredients and the mashed bananas in thirds to the creamed mixture mixing each to just incorporate the ingredients, be careful not to over mix.  Use spatula to scrape every last ounce of batter goodness into a well-greased and floured loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes.  I like to run a knife through the batter to get rid of any air bubbles before baking.  It’s ready when an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.  Leave the loaf in the pan to cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to let cool completely.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it to that point without cutting a slice — it’s really tasty still warm but easier to cut a room temperature. Enjoy!

If you have a favourite banana bread or similar loaf recipe, please share! I am in search of a zucchini loaf!