Rocky Road crunch bar


I’m always trying to persuade my children that a proper apple crumble or steamed pudding is the thing to have for Sunday lunch. But it falls on deaf ears – when I ask them what they’d like me to cook, they unanimously scream Rocky Road. It’s their current crush. It’ll pass.

It’s a generic well-published recipe, with very few real variations. But, the top-tip I got from the Nigella Lawson recipe is to use rich tea biscuits. Most food writers suggest digestives, which are perfectly fine, but they’re not quite as crunchy and can become a bit too crumbly. I also like cherries in mine, my children do not – so instead of mixing them in, I dot them across one end (my end) before applying the final smothering of chocolate.

100g rich tea biscuits

100g little marshmallows

100g glace cherries

120g unsalted butter

3 tablespoons golden syrup

300g top-quality dark chocolate (aim for 70% cocoa solids)

Drip a little oil into the bottom of a shallow baking tray (mine is 12×8 inches and just 1 inch deep). Then cover with a large piece of cling film. The oil is there to get the cling to stick to the bottom, just a little, so it doesn’t slip about.

In a mixing bowl quickly break up the biscuits; the ideal texture is mostly shards, nothing bigger than a quarter of a biscuit, and not too many crumbs. Add the marshmallows and cherries, and mix it up a bit.

In a small non-stick pan gently melt together the butter, golden syrup and chocolate. Keep stirring it regularly with a plastic spatula. Once that has all melted, pour three quarters of the chocolate over the biscuit rubble and mix thoroughly. At first you’ll think there’s insufficient chocolate, but persevere and keep mixing – it’ll be fine.

Tip the chocolate coated rubble into the baking tray and smooth it down as best you can with the back of the spatula. Now pour the remaining chocolate over the top. Tidy up the top again. Place it, uncovered, in a fridge for a few hours, or overnight.

To serve, simply lift the whole thing out and cut into mean little slices (it is incredibly rich). Dust with a sprinkling of icing sugar or cocoa powder, if you like. Eat it as a cake with a coffee-shop sized cappuccino, or dress it up for pudding with ice cream, or crème fraiche, or perhaps some squirty cream.


Rocky Road with the children

I don’t really do baking. Strange how, when the rest of the food-writing world is embracing their inner Mary Berry, I turn my back on it all. I can bake, obviously, it’s just that I don’t really enjoy it.

My elder daughter has been doing some after school cookery lessons this term. Of course, they can’t do actual cooking, so it’s focused on measuring and mixing and then bringing the cold doughy lump, or biscuits on a baking tray home to be baked that evening. Fair enough, I try to reason. Although the matter makes me furious – I’m not going to get into the politics and problems of teaching cooking at school. Cooking is now something we must teach children our at home, just like table manners.

The rocky road that she made at school was good, but I thought the biscuits had been over crushed, and she left the cherries out (“but daddy, I don’t like cherries”), so I had a go at making some myself. It is surprisingly nice, but a bit in-your-face sweet with all those marshmallows and cherries in there. Following that success, I made some tiffin, much the same idea, melted chocolate with butter and golden syrup, and biscuits for crunch, but this time partnered with finely chopped dried figs and toasted hazelnuts. To make tiffin just follow the melting and biscuit bits given below and then simply add as many figs and hazelnuts as you care for. You won’t go wrong.

If you where to have a Miss Marple style afternoon tea, you might feel a tad silly serving up rocky road, with all its obvious American sweetness. But, a little piece of tiffin with tea following a small cucumber sandwich, would be spot on.

125g unsalted butter
250g good dark chocolate – the 70% cocoa-solids stuff
3 tbsp golden syrup
250g digestive biscuits
100g small marshmallows
200g glace cherries

Warm the butter, syrup and broken chocolate in a non stick pan gently over a low heat. I’ve found that once you’re using golden syrup and butter you can almost throw caution to the wind and abandon the double boiler. My daughter told me they used a microwave at school – I didn’t understand what she was talking about.

Whilst that is melting put a few spots of oil into a 10×8 inch baking tray. Spread that around and then cover with cling film. The oil will simply keep the cling film in place.

Break the biscuits up in a bowl. It is important not to crush the biscuits, you don’t want crumbs. Pour about three quarters of the melted chocolate into the biscuits and stir gently to combine. Add the marshmallows and the cherries, stir again. Tip all this into the cling lined baking tray and smooth down with a spatula. Finally pour the remaining chocolate over the top and again, try to smooth it down.

It will need a couple of hours in the fridge, before being turned out, cling film removed, and cut into little pieces with a big sharp knife. I think two or three bites per piece.