My mother has been making crunchies for years. She doesn’t even measure any more. I think she makes crunchies twice a week. It’s just her and my dad, but they use those crunchies like rocket fuel! Or rather, gardening fuel.
Because they use these crunchies as a sort of in-between-meals source of energy, my mom has been tweaking the recipe to strike a balance between nutrition and taste. The result – good! They are sweet enough to satisfy one’s craving and make the crunchies tasty, but not so sweet that you are gonna max out your sugar intake allowance for the week.
The original recipe was a standard oats, coconut, flour, sugar butter combo. Over time Mom added in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and her latest addition, cayenne pepper! Cayenne pepper has been making its way into all sorts of things these days. But the last thing I expected was for my mother to trend set and pimp the crunchies. : )
But true to what seems like a trend between parents and children, I was wrong. And so what does cayenne pepper do to a batch of crunchies?
It is quite an interesting combo. Cayenne pepper immediately brings to mind curry and hot savory dishes. However when added to a recipe like crunchies, it acts a lot like ginger. Just without the ginger flavor. That is probably the best way I can think of to describe it. And the ginger effect without a ginger flavor is actually really great. I love ginger, but I would feel like a bore if I made ginger flavored biscuits all the time. However with the cayenne pepper, as one does not get any dominating flavor from it, just a pleasant warmth, one can use it again and again.
Before I start with the recipe, I just want to let you guys know that I tried to make a batch of these, gluten free style. I wasn’t actually meaning to make a gluten free version, but that was the only flour left in the house. Determined not to be discouraged, and quite certain that gluten free flour would work fine, I plunged into my baking.
I did everything else as usual. However alas when I opened the oven, I could immediately see that the crunchies looked like they might be crumblies. Which indeed they were. No amount of cooling could harden those babies.
Biting down my disappointment, I scraped my crumblies into tupperwares and hit them at the back of the fridge in shame. The Troll however managed to discover them, and pronounced that what they lacked in consistency they made up for in taste. Aahh imagine if they had been firm?
Anyway, my point is – if you are gluten intolerant and want to adapt this recipe it most probably will not work. I hate being so negative about anything, but its even worse baking something with which you are disappointed.
My suspicion is that because of the reduced sugar, and the lack of gluten (binding agent) in gluten free flour, there just was not enough to hold things together. Perhaps, if there were more sugar in the recipe, or one added some xanthan gum things would work out. But for now, my verdict is – no gluten flour with this crunchie recipe!
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 cup flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 250g butter
- 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- Sunflower & pumpkin seeds to taste (approx 1/3/ cup)
- Large baking pan
- Large pot for melting butter and mixing all ingredients
- Melt the butter in the pot at a low heat.
- Mix in sugar, soda and vanilla essence.
- Stir on a low heat for 5-10 minutes to melt sugar.
- While you are waiting for the sugar to melt you can preheat the oven to medium heat.
- Turn off the stove and mix in the dry ingredients.
- Scrape the mix into your baking pan, pressing it down with back of a metal spoon.
- Bake until golden brown.
- Once the crunchies are done, allow them to cool slightly in the pan.
- Cut into squares and allow to fully cool at which point you can remove them from the pan and pack into a tin or tupperware.
If you are not a fan of spiciness, then you might want to halve the cayenne pepper quantity at first. If you find that this is too little you can always sprinkle some on the top of the crunchies after they are baked.