There are a lot of foods I like. Duh, right? No seriously, work with me here. The list is extensive. In fact, I’d say I like more food than I don’t like… I don’t naturally have a sweet tooth. It’s pretty easy to go overboard on my sweetness quotient. I prefer foods a little further on the savoury or bitter spectrum. There is one GIANT, HUGE, ENORMO exception, though.
Uhmuhgush, people. I’m a brownie maniac. I eat them all. I eat fudgy brownies, cakey brownies, blondies (I know, maybe that’s stretching the category a bit), BROWNIES. All of them. I like brownies made with pounds of butter and sugar, fake-you-out brownies made with black beans or beets (Yes, those are things. They’re pretty darned good.) I could eat my weight in brownies, and I’ll take all the edge pieces, thankyouverymuch. Crispy edges forever!
Having this little piece of knowledge in your kit should keep you from being surprised when I say that I fell in love with some crispy brownie snacks provided at a conference I attended a couple of weeks ago. They’re made commercially and sold pretty widely. By pretty widely, I mean Wegman’s and other well-stocked grocery stores have them. BUT PEOPLE. Wegman’s and other well-stocked grocery stores are at least a half an hour’s drive in either direction for me AND there’s one other problem.
When I say I’m cheap, what I mean is that I look at a package of something and size up just how much it would take me in raw materials to create it myself. If that item exceeds the price per pound I can make it at -you know, doing normal, mentally healthy things like factoring in cost of energy needed to cook/create, my hourly rate, and whether I have the requisite equipment- I can’t pay for it. (See barbecue sauce, ranch dressing mix, Cool Ranch Doritos, and pretty much my entire site.)
So I made my own. And I made it every bit as CRUNCHY as the stuff you can buy, wicked INEXPENSIVE, completely PRESERVATIVE AND ADDITIVE FREE, and AS TASTY AS or TASTIER THAN the original. Crispy, crunchy, not-even-a-little-chewy, rich, chocolate brownie wafer cookies studded with English toffee bits and chocolate chips; it’s Toffee Brownie Crackle, friends, and it is magnificently habit-forming!
Proof of the crunch factor!
- Parchment paper is non-negotiable. I did not test this with silpats. It might work, but I haven’t given it a whirl yet. Don’t try putting it directly on the pan sans parchment or SOMETHING, though, because good luck prying that stuff off of a pan.
- There’s no denying that the batter is sticky and a little tricky to spread thin. If you hold the parchment to the far side of the pan with one thumb and use an offset spatula to spread the brownie batter toward you, then pin the parchment a little further down on the far side of the pan and repeat, you should be able to get it good and thin. An offset spatula really is the best tool for the job here, but a silicone spatula will stand in well if necessary.
- Notice I keep saying to spread the batter thin. That’s pretty key here. Spread it as close to the edges of the parchment paper as you can possibly spread it.
- When you ‘score’ the Brownie Crackle, do not ‘cut’ it. Just lightly drag your knife down through it to ‘draw’ a line on which you’ll break it later. I’d advise scoring a grid of 1 1/2-inch sized squares or diamonds.
- Don’t let the Brownie Crackle bake until it is hard as a rock. That will mean it is burned. Instead, pull the pan from the oven and touch a piece. Does it feel mostly firm with a little give? You’re probably good. It will crisp up as it cools! After it cools, if you find that it’s still a little chewy or soft (this could happen do to variations in the calibrations of ovens), you can break it apart and bake it at 250°F until it finishes crisping up.
- 1 large egg white
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup peanut, canola, or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (2⅛ ounces by weight) all-purpose flour
- 3 heaping tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup Heath brickle or other toffee bits
- ½ cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Line a half-sheet pan (18-inches by 13-inches by ½-inch) with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, vigorously whisk the egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sugar until completely incorporated. Add the oil, water, and vanilla extract and whisk until completely combined. Dump in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk until you have a totally smooth and shiny brownie batter. Scrape onto the lined pan and use an offset spatula (or silicone spatula) to spread the batter as thinly and evenly as possible. It should come very close to the edges of the parchment leaving perhaps a ½-inch border all around if you have it as thin as you should. Sprinkle the toffee bits and chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the batter. You do not need to press them in for them to stick.
- Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pan, score into desired sizes, then return the pan to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool completely before breaking along the scored lines. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If they start getting soft, you can re-crisp them in a 250°F oven.