Another birthday, another reason to design a new dessert recipe! Alex organised his party this year around a distinctly 1940s theme, so I thought I’d adapt something that was launched around the same time – the Wagon Wheel biscuit… one of his favourite snacks! The original marshmallow and jam sandwiched between two thin shortbread biscuits becomes a layered delight beginning with a brown butter biscuit base spread with a thin veneer of raspberry jam, smothered with a layer of fluffy marshmallow, and topped off with swirl of dark chocolate.
Although I found a recipe for this slice on-line, it called for store-bought marshmallows, which troubled me somewhat. I wanted to make my own (how hard could it be?), and therefore dug out an old cookbook I’ve had for roughly 20 years now. Published as a fundraiser for a campsite where I used to work, all the recipes are tried and true. One of my favourite fish dishes comes from it, as does my Dad’s signature boiled fruit cake. They included a marshmallow biscuit slice, and I’ve adapted both the base and the marshmallow for this luscious Wagon Wheel Slice.
Because I wanted the option of browning the butter for the base, I’ve gone with melting it instead of creaming the butter with the sugar this time. It yields a nutty, buttery, shortbread-like biscuit, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The raspberry jam was store-bought, of course, but the marshmallow – so easy to make your own – is a whipped confection made with gelatine and lots and lots of sugar. As for that final layer, I chose to use regular dark chocolate; but go with whatever suits your fancy – 70% dark or milk chocolate – it’s up to you!
Wagon Wheel Slice
Layers upon layers of sweet goodness; first the shortbread, then the jam, marshmallow and chocolate. Party food doesn’t get much better than this!
Makes 24 pieces
For the base:
60g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup + 2 tablespoons plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
For the jam:
1/3 cup raspberry jam (I used Rose’s brand)
For the marshmallow:
2 dessertspoons gelatine powder
1 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
For the chocolate layer:
185g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used dark choc chips)
50g unsalted butter, extra
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 3cm-deep, 16cm x 26cm slice pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 2cm from edge on all sides.
Melt butter (NB. This is your chance to brown the butter, but this is totally optional). In a heavy-based saucepan, melt butter slowly, then when completely liquid, raise heat and allow to froth, stirring constantly. As froth subsides, butter will begin to stick to pan, creating a brownish substance on the surface of the pan. This is good. The butter should now have a nutty aroma. Once the butter has browned, take off heat immediately, before it burns. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add sugar and egg and mix well. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt and stir until dough comes together. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Spread warm base with jam.
Meanwhile, soak gelatine powder in 1 cup of water (give it at least 10 minutes to soak properly). Add 1 cup caster sugar and dissolve gently in a saucepan over a low heat, then raise heat and boil for 8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then add 1 cup of sifted icing sugar. In a large, deep bowl, beat with an electric mixer until white and thick (should take about 3 minutes). Add vanilla essence, and beat until well combined. Spoon almost all* of the mixture over jam layer and place in refrigerator to set.
Place the chocolate and butter in a small, clean, dry heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water over low heat (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Use a dry metal spoon to stir gently for 2 minutes or until chocolate melts and is smooth. Pour evenly over marshmallow layer and smooth the surface with a knife.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Stand at room temperature for 5 minutes (I waited about 30 just to make sure the chocolate wouldn’t crack) before cutting into pieces with a hot knife and serving.
* I find that this makes a little more than needed, but this isn’t a problem! Just lightly grease a small plastic container and pour excess in. Place in refrigerator for a few minutes to set, and you’ve got a quick, sugary treat for snacking on while the Wagon Wheel Slice is still under construction.