“Please, can you help me?”
I receive emails from various types of people. Folks who have toddlers with food allergies. Mature adults whose doctors have put them on restricted diets. People who have suddenly developed food allergies after years of eating anything they wanted. Diet conscious folks who want to eat healthier. What all these folks have in common, though, is that they’ve always been adults.
This week I received an email for the first time from a child who had stumbled upon my site. She is ten and apparently really likes saltine brickle, which she had tried at a friend’s house. Her mother, however, had told her it had too much fat and sugar and wasn’t good for her. Like many folks of her generation, she went online to see if there was a solution to her problem.
In her email to me, she wanted to know if I could “fix” the recipe so it wouldn’t have as much fat and sugar but still taste good.
I confess, I found her and her email just too cute! Of course, I had to do what I could to help her out. It turned out that she has both a nut and dairy allergy, so I needed to accommodate those in the revamping of the recipe.
When you google saltine brickle recipes, you’ll find that the recipes call for anywhere from 1 to 2 cups of butter, usually about 1 cup of sugar, and anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. The first order of business became all that butter. I opted to cut the amount down to 1/2 cup, and for the dairy allergy I used vegan soy free butter. The second item to tackle was the sugar. I could have simply cut the amount, but since I don’t like to use sugar as a general rule, I chose to use agave and cut the amount down to only 1/4 cup of it. For the chocolate, I swapped dairy and nut free dark chocolate mini chips for the regular sized semi-sweet chocolate chips, and I reduced the amount to 1 cup. To make the dessert slightly “better” I used a whole grain cracker instead of the white flour saltines. I tried Market Basket whole grain saltines, Manischewitz whole grain matzo, and Van’s whole grain gluten free crackers. For the final change, I decided to add some protein to the dessert and sprinkled pumpkin seeds on top.
The final creations were all tasty and worth the effort, and the young girl wrote to tell me that her mom let her make my version because she, one, thought it was great that her daughter showed initiative, and two, because she agreed that the reduction in sugar and butter and the addition of whole grains and protein made them “better” for eating.
40 whole grain saltine sized crackers, your choice of wheat or gluten free (you want to make a 16 inch x 10 inch rectangle; if using the matzo crackers, you’ll obviously use less because they are larger crackers)
1/2 cup vegan soy free butter
1/4 cup agave
1 cup allergy friendly dark chocolate mini chips
1/2 to 1 cup pumpkin seeds (I used the no salt added version but I tried both roasted and raw and liked both; if you have no allergies to nuts or peanuts, try using those if you don’t like pumpkin seeds; the amount to use depends on whether you just want a few seeds on each cracker or want the crackers to be covered with them.)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rectangle 17 x 11 inch pan with aluminum foil. Generously grease the foil with your favorite method.
- Place the crackers on the foil lined pan to make a 16 x 10 inch rectangle.
- Melt the vegan butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently (should take only about a minute). Add the agave.
- Carefully pour the butter mixture over the crackers so each cracker is covered.
- Bake the crackers in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove the pan and turn off the oven.
- Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the crackers and put the pan back in the turned off oven for 1 minute.
- Using a spatula, carefully spread the melted chocolate so all the crackers are covered.
- Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top of the chocolate.
- Put the pan into the freezer for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has solidified.
- Break apart the brickle and enjoy!