Years ago, when I was a little kid, my mom would make By Cracky Bars. They had a golden layer with chocolate chips on top, then a graham cracker layer, and then a brownie-nut layer on the bottom. I never thought about where the recipe came from, only knew that the bars were a special treat.
Fast forward lo these many years, and as I browsed through a copy of a Pillsbury’s Bake-Off book, circa 1953, to my surprise I came across By Cracky Bars. In those days, the Pillsbury Bake-Off was a big deal–being the grand prize winner was akin to winning the Nobel Peace prize, only more important. The By Cracky bars had been created by Yvonne Whyte, who won $2,000. The grand prize that year went to a Mrs. Harlib for her Snappy Turtle Cookies, but it looks like the By Cracky bars were the real winners.
I have made one change, substituting butter for the Homogenized Spry called for in the recipe. Homogenized shortening may make these bars look puffier, but it’s considered an indigestible “Frankenfat,” that I would like to avoid. It also is totally flavorless, another thing to avoid. So here is the recipe:
By Cracky Bars
1-3/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1-ounce square melted baking (bitter) chocolate
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces, regular or “mini” size
Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt. Blend together the softened butter and sugar. Add the eggs, and beat well. Combine the milk and vanilla. Add alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture.
Place a generous one-third of batter in second bowl, and add the melted chocolate and walnuts. Spread in a 13 x 9″ pan that has been greased and lined with parchment paper. Arrange 9 double graham crackers over batter. Add the semi-sweet pieces to remaining batter. Drop by spoonfuls over graham crackers and spread to cover. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cut into bars when cool.
Baking notes: Be sure to sift the flour before measuring. I do this with a nested set of measuring cups (Pyrex measuring cups are really for liquids). I place the one cup measure on a piece of waxed paper and sift the flour into the measure, then level it off with a knife. I pour this measured flour into a bowl. Then I do this with a half cup measure and then a quarter cup measure. Afterwards, I roll up the waxed paper and pour the extra flour back into the bag of flour. However you like to do this, sifting the flour is a must. The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon salt, but 1/2 teaspoon is plenty for modern tastebuds. If you don’t have baking chocolate, you can substitute one tablespoon of softened butter mixed with three tablespoons of baking cocoa. Lastly, don’t bake longer than 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, though snow continues to cover the garden, today it began melting, and larkspur seedlings were revealed. I think it will be a bumper year for larkspur this summer! So if you are a gardener, you may find the above picture inspirational!
Then, suffering from an overwhelming desire for flowers, I bought a little pot of daffodils–after the flowers have faded and the soil warms up, I can plant them outside, and they will come back next spring.
Hope your week is a good one. Namaste. Fran