My friend Gerry had a great-uncle, Norman Thomas Brown, who was a confectionery maker in Sydney. Mr. Brown was born into a family with a long food lineage that included bakers, pastry cooks and cordial manufacturers. He catalogued all his recipes in a book for posterity. Some of the recipes are old favourites like Almond Rock, Buttermilks, Turkish D-Lite, Eucalyptus & Honey, Fruit Pastilles and Humbugs. There are also recipes for Macaroons – a man well before his time, obviously.
Having made confectionery throughout the Depression and Great War he learnt to adapt recipes whenever there were shortages of particular ingredients or money. One such recipe is Scrap Batch, which uses 25kg of confectionery off-cuts. Others are confections I’ve never heard of. One recipe, patriotically referred to as Australian Crunch, caught my eye. A quick Google search drew nil results on any reference to this toffee laden with popcorn, peanuts and shredded coconut. There was that vague feeling of excitement at having stumbled across a recipe lost to time and one that might actually be worth resurrecting. I wondered about making up a batch.
As Mr. Brown’s main reason for collating all his recipes was ‘for the benefit of the ‘Trade’ – that’s ‘Trade’ with a capital ‘T’– the ingredients for each recipe are in huge commercial quantities. I feared that attempting a recipe would result in with litres of toffee, so I halved once, twice, three and then four times to get a volume that would suit a home-cook.
What has resulted is a treat perfect for Christmas. As a whole block it looks like a snow-covered landscape of Arctic tundra, or as it title infers, an Australian beach. Once taken to with a hammer it breaks into chucks of petrified popcorn with a summery hint of coconut only apparent once you begin to nibble away.
I’ve packaged this batch into cello bags to give to the kid’s teachers for the end of year thank-you’s. By all accounts, Australian Crunch is definitely a recipe worth resurrecting.
Makes 10 x 100g serves
700g white sugar
300g glucose (available in the bakery aisle at supermarket)
5g bi-carb soda
pinch of salt
50g unsalted peanuts
50g shredded coconut
80g popped corn
Grease a large baking tray with a little vegetable oil and set aside.
In a medium-sized saucepan place the sugar, glucose and water and stir to combine. Over a medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly. Once boiling leave the mixture to reach 300C (use a candy thermometer) and stir only occasionally to avoid the mixture catching on the base of the saucepan.
As soon as the thermometer hits 300C take the saucepan off the heat and, working quickly, add the peanuts, coconut and popcorn and stir well to combine. Sprinkle over the bi-carb soda and stir to combine once more. As the mixture cools it becomes harder to stir and combine so you want to work quickly. Pour the mixture over the greased baking tray and flatten slightly to form an even-ish slab. Leave to cool completely (about 30 minutes). When cool break into pieces.Share this on: