A beginners guide to making crack

August 13 2017

I want to be clear up front – I’m good at plenty of things. I’m great at painting my own nails. I have a 6.7 GPA. I’m getting very good at identifying which fashion house couture came from. I taught our dog to sneeze on command! I can do things.

But I’m not a great cook.

In fact, it may not even be appropriate to use the term ‘cook’ to describe the fumbling I do in the kitchen. I stuffed up boiling rice the other week. Despite the signs I probably shouldn’t,  I recently attempted to cook a recipe that’s going viral at the moment (called ‘crack’). I learnt a few valuable lessons along the way… some may call them sublime finds, others may call them fundamental cooking basics. Whether you could do with a few cooking pointers as learnt the hard way by moi OR alternatively you are a smug, capable cook who will take pleasure in my misfortune – this post is for you.

The background to this story

Long time readers would know I’m a raving fan of the podcast Chat 10, Looks 3 by Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb – who are equal parts smart and funny and also besties prone to a good snort-laugh together. While their work-lives are political, the podcast is usually about what they’re reading, watching and cooking. As their podcast audience has grown, the occasional fans (who can cook) have taken to dropping off their kitchen spoils for Leigh and Annabel to sample.

Recently, a listener had dropped off something called ‘crack’ and it was so good that Annabel and her team producing ‘The House’ on ABC devoured it in a single sitting without saving an ounce for Leigh.

Enter the ‘Chatters’

Around the same time, a Facebook group was created for Chat 10, Looks 3 devotees like myself. The group quickly starts referring to members as ‘Chatters’ who declared it to be a cult. Chatters start making crack en masse. In fact, cooking crack becomes an initiation of sorts. I’m a long-time sufferer of FOMO (fear of missing out) and want to attain full ‘cult’ membership, so I read the crack recipe, decide it looks pretty straight forward*, buy the ingredients and settle in for a Monday night of cooking crack.

*a conclusion I will later learn is incorrect.

Hold up, what actually is ‘crack’?

It’s essentially Saladas covered in caramel, then chocolate with some nuts on top. It is salty and sweet and delicious in the way that smores are, but better. It is made from crackers, cracks when it’s baked and is as addictive as it’s illicit namesake.

The famed Chatters' Crack

The famed Chatters’ Crack in all it’s glory.

The recipe the Chat 10, Looks 3 listener used was posted by smitten kitchen and has been since translated into metric measurements with Aussie flavour by Jo Waugh and renamed with a nod to Chatters.

Chatters' Crack Recipe by Jo Waugh

Chatters’ Crack – Jo Waugh’s Aussie version. You can download the PDF of this bad boy here.

Now as I have eluded to (and came to learn the hard way) Chatters’ Crack is not a recipe for the novice cook. Let me enlighten you on a few things not spelt out in Jo’s translation above.

15 lessons learnt from my first attempt at making crack

  1. Check the hot plate you turn on corresponds with where you have placed your pan.
  2. Boiling caramel spits!
  3. Spitting caramel burns!
  4. Caramel quickly turns tacky if you don’t spread it promptly!
  5. Tacky caramel goes hard in the pan if you haven’t cleaned it! (I believe this is how toffee is made?)
  6. If you try to grate chocolate, it will melt in your hand.
  7. Do not try to grate chocolate. (Why was I doing this!? Chocolate grating it is not in the recipe!)
  8. If you want to toast flaked almonds, do it in the oven before putting the saladas in.
  9. Despite what google says, ‘toasting’ almonds in the microwave is not really a thing.
  10. Using the microwave while something is in the oven will clear the timer!!
  11. It is very hard to remember how long something has been cooking without a timer.
  12. Caramel will start smoking when it is burning!
  13. Spreading the melting chocolate will make your knife too hot to lick.
  14. If there is a level below beginner when it comes to cooking, I am that level.
  15. THE CRACK TASTES LIKE EVERYTHING THEY PROMISED AND MORE
Chatters Crack Attempt 1

Chatters’ Crack Attempt #1: Not the best looking crack you’ll ever see but delicious!

Crack is best shared with friends

I ditched the particularly dodgy bits and took the excess to work. I took great delight in telling my colleagues I’d made crack and brought it in to share. Received the tick of approval from surprised coworkers.

Buoyed by the success of cooking something other people actually enjoyed eating, I thought I’d have another go. Because it will be so much easier the second time around. Right?

Wrong. I present attempt #2. Turns out ‘burnt caramel’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. (Pun intended!)

Chatters Crack Attempt #2

Chatters Crack Attempt #2: where it all went wrong. This batch was destined for the bin.

Mastering Crack

It was third time lucky – and this time I took some snaps along the way for the umpteen kindred spirits I’ve since seen trying to figure out if they’re on the right crack track.

Chatters' Crack process

Chatters’ Crack: how it *should* look when you’re doing it right! (…as learnt the hard way.) L to R, top then bottom: 1) Melt the butter first, then add the brown sugar – put on a time for 3 mins! 2) the caramel will change texture and go bubbly and light 3) salad’s laying in the tray – this is half a box of Saladas 4) Pour the caramel over the salads quickly 5) This was after 7 mins in the oven. 15mins is WAY too long for me and my oven 6) dropped some Cadbury melts on top – I opted for more milk chocolate than dark 7) Spread that chocolate around after a few mins *knife too hot to lick* 8) Finished version ready to hit the freezer for 20 mins! ALSO out of shot, toasted those nuts in the pan on the stove! Took 30 seconds after the pan was hot. Did this before commencing any other recipe elements!

Crack glory

Chatters' Crack finished product

Smug successful photo: the finished product, all your crack dreams come true! (Note to self: order stretchy pants.)

That concludes this (highly likely, once-off) edition of Sublime Finds in the Kitchen! Have you been made crack? Are you addicted to crack? How do you rate your cooking skills? I welcome all confessions in the comments!

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