“By cracky!” is one of those great, old-timey phrases that you don’t hear too much any more. Although if you have some older relatives it might come out once in a while in place of “by golly” or “by gosh” (or some similar euphemism). And, you might start hearing it around the kitchen if you add these to your repertoire because they’re By Cracky Bars! The recipe comes from the 1953 Pillsbury Bake Off booklet, and was the 2nd prize winner of the junior baker contest that year.
The bars are quite unusual in flavor and texture, but are easy to make and deliver a lovely presentation with all their stripey layers. They come in somewhere between a pound cake and a cookie in texture. Like a pound cake, they are fairly dense, but not heavy at all and quite tender when you bite into them. Like a cookie, they’re a little bit drier than a traditional cake would be, but have just enough of a crunchy texture that the whole combination works perfectly. They go very well with milk.
The batter/dough for the top and bottom layers of the bar is the same. To one portion of the batter, you stir in a small amount of melted chocolate and a generous amount of chopped walnuts. To the rest of the batter, you simply add chocolate chips. The middle layer is actually graham crackers that have been laid between the chocolate and vanilla batters. The graham adds a subtle crispiness, but is very subtle and seems to add more to the presentation than anything else.
These bars keep well and are easy to travel with. They’ll appeal to those who like cookies and those who like cake, and will definitely find fans with the chocolate-loving crowd thanks to all the chips in the top layer of batter. The bars are not nearly as tall as they appear in the photo above; the bars are probably no more than an inch high. I cut my batch into smaller squares, rather than longer bars, so that I could serve more people with it.
By Cracky Bars
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-oz semisweet, dark or unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips
9 graham cracker squares
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch square baking pan
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk and the vanilla extract. Mix in remaining flour mixture and stir only until no streaks of flour remain.
Transfer 1/3 of the batter to the medium bowl and stir in melted chocolate and chopped walnuts. Pour into prepared pan and smooth into a single layer. Arrange graham cracker squares in a single layer over chocolate/walnut layer.
Stir chocolate chips into remaining batter and pour over graham cracker layer. Carefully smooth the batter out so that it covers the grahams completely.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bars spring back when lightly pressed in the center. The top should be golden brown.
Cool in pan, on a wire rack. until ready to cut and serve.
Makes 25 bars
Note: A 9×9 pan will work for this recipe, but the bars might cook a few minutes faster in the larger pan.