The Musette: white chocolate, cinnamon and apple rocky road

Winner of Great British Bake Off in 2015, Nadiya Hussain is now a familiar figure on cookery and food related programmes on British screens. When I saw her prepare this recipe I knew immediately that the sons of some friends would love this, particularly with my teeny, tiny tweaks. I was not mistaken. But then hands up who doesn’t love rocky road? Exactly, no one.

Aside from my friends’ sons, I also made these for my beloved’s niece and her friends to eat after they’d completed the recent Nice-Cannes Marathon. They were well received.

Ingredients (makes 15 bars)

  • 200g (7oz) white chocolate chips or chopped block of white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp Grade A maple syrup/golden syrup/date syrup
  • 130g (4½oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 200g (7oz) cinnamon (Speculoos) biscuits
  • 100g (3½oz) white (preferably) mini marshmallows (if you can only find large ones, use scissors to chop them into small pieces)
  • 100g (3½oz) dried apple rings, chopped into small pieces
  • 50g (1¾oz) fat juicy raisins
  • 1 tbsp rum (optional)
  • 1 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar for dusting

Method

1. Lightly grease the inside of a 23cm (9″) square baking tin with butter. Line the base and sides of the tin with greaseproof (parchment) paper or cling film (plastic wrap).

2. Gently melt the chocolate, syrup and butter in either a bain marie (heatproof bowl over saucepan with small amount of just simmering water) or microwave on low heat in 30 sec bursts.

3. Stir contents and as soon as the mixture is smooth and liquid, take off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

4. Add the salt and cinnamon to the mixture. Warm the raisins in the rum in microwave on high for 30 secs.

5. Roughly crush the biscuits by putting them into a freezer bag and bashing them with a rolling pin – hugely satisfying! Empty the contents of the bag into the chocolate mixture and give it a good stir.

6. Add the marshmallows, apples and raisins and stir until everything is well coated.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and use the back of a spoon to flatten and level it, not forgetting to press it well into the corners.

8. Put the tin into the fridge and leave it for at least 1 hour, or until set, before taking it out of the tin, dusting with icing sugar and cutting it up into 15 bars.

9. The bars can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks but they won’t last that long – trust me!

 Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. If the chcocolate is too hot when the marshmallows are added, you will get into a sticky mess, so make sure you allow the chocolate to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Heating the rum on high in the microwave eliminates the alcohol but can be replaced with a tablespoon of hot water if you prefer. This makes the dried fruit juicier.

3. If you don’t use cinnamon biscuits (Speculoos), add another 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon to compensate.

 

The Musette: chocolate chip, oat biscuits

My Thursday evening English class were my first official guinea pigs. Now I agree that a bunch of teenage cyclists probably aren’t the most discerning of taste-testers. But mine were reasonably forthright and, while capable of inhaling their own bodyweights in baked goods, if they didn’t like something, I would be left with more than just crumbs. Unsurprisingly, anything with chocolate in it scored highly and they simply loved home-made biscuits and cookies.

These also found favour with a few professional cyclists who pretty much polished off the entire batch! I’m not sure exactly how many more kilometres on the bike were ridden to work off the surplus calories but safe to say it was plenty.

The recipe is based on one for shortbread type biscuits to which I’ve added chocolate chips – everything’s better with chocolate  – and oats for sustained energy.

You don't need many ingredients to make delicious baked good! (image: Sheree)

You don’t need many ingredients to make delicious baked goodies!

Ingredients (makes 24 biscuits)

  • 225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120g (1 cup)  caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp of fine sea salt
  • 275g (2⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 30g (⅓ cup) oats (oatmeal)
  • 100g (6 tbsp) 70% min. chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°Cfan/ gas mark 6 (400°F/350°F).

2. Line two shallow baking sheets with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

3. Beat the softened butter until it lightens. Use really great butter as it does make a difference to the finished product.

4. Beat but don’t whip in the sugar and vanilla extract then gently fold in the sifted flour, salt, oats and chocolate chips. Don’t overwork the mixture, which should be of a similar consistency to that of pastry. Indeed you can roll the mixture into logs, wrap in greaseproof (parchment) paper and freeze for baking at a later date.

5. I use a small ice cream scoop – equally you could use a soup spoon – to portion the dough and ensure the cookies are a similar size. Place the balls on the baking sheets about 1cm (less than ½”) apart, as they’ll spread slightly while baking, and flatten the tops. I found the dough made 24 biscuits, each weighing around 30g (1 oz) uncooked.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they start to turn golden at the edges and they’re firm to the touch. Depending upon the size of your oven, you might need to rotate the sheets midway through the cooking process.

7. Remove from the oven and transfer to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, put them in an airtight container where they’ll keep for 3-4 days, providing you keep them out of reach of any cyclists, or enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.

Gone in a flash! (image: Sheree)

Gone in a flash!

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the biscuits in the oven, put the timer on for five minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. I have also made the biscuits with milk chocolate chips but found them too sweet for my taste.

4. I’ve successfully substituted the chocolate chips for a similar weight of fat juicy raisins.

5. The biscuits work equally well with a mixture of 50g (1¾oz) tart chopped dried cranberries and 50g (1¾oz) white chocolate chips.