December is a month when your diary is as stuffed as your turkey will be; there’s always something on and with that comes the inevitable ‘bring a plate’. When you’re tight on time there really isn’t a quicker, easier or more fool-proof option than Candy Cane Rocky Road.
I still laugh when my cousin tells the story of her first encounter with bringing a plate. Having grown up in a fairly homogeneous Croatian community where the host hosts and the guests eat, she had never really had to bring anything to, well, anything.
After landing her first job it wasn’t long before an invitation was made by a new colleague with the tagline: “… just bring a plate”.
My cousin, a model of politeness in social settings, nodded and smiled. Inside she couldn’t help but fret for this poor person, so keen to host a party in spite of not owning enough plates to serve them all! So what did she do?
She turned up to the event that weekend with a whole packet of paper plates… and some plastic cutlery and napkins! Lordy, it’s as funny today as the first time I heard that story.
For those of you that are a bit more au fait with share catering, here’s a real doozy of a Christmas recipe. While there are many variations on the the theme, Candy Cane Rocky Road is a particularly festive combo which you must try this year.
Of itself, rocky road barely requires a recipe and it would, indeed, take a special kind of uncoordinated soul to mess it up. But, there are a few tricks I have learned over the years that will improve your end product immensely.
The five rules of rocky road
- Only ever use fat, squidgy, good quality marshmallows. It would be a crime to fill your decadent dessert with piddly, dry little mallows.
- Always have something crispy. My preference is rice bubbles and/or some kind of biscuit like a Scotch Finger, or in this case, gingerbread.
- Save some of the melted chocolate aside to pour over the top at the end. This is how you get nice glossy chunks of rocky road rather than dry, gravelly, unappealing bitumen-like lumps.
- Cooking chocolate should only be used as a last ditch means of survival in the event of a natural disaster. Much like wine, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t cook with it!
- Don’t be stingy with the chocolate. This isn’t just obvious because chocolate is delicious, it’s important for the structural integrity of the road. Too little bonding agent (chocolate) and you’ll end up with disorganised clumps.
Candy Cane Rocky Road
- 8 candy canes
- 3 blocks Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate (about 600-700gm)
- 3 gingerbread biscuits (homemade or store bought gingerbread of any shape is fine)
- About 100g of glacé cherries
- 1 packet good quality marshmallows, white only
- 1/2 cup desicated coconut
- 1/2 cup rice bubbles
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds (Optional. Omit these if you are going to a nut-free event, though given it’s Christmas time, seems unlikely. *badum ching*)
- Line an approximately 20 x 20 cm baking tin with baking paper.
- Place the candy canes in a plastic bag and cover with a tea towel. Proceed to bash with a rolling pin or similar. You’re aiming for broken into shards but stop well before it’s an unrecognisable pink powder.
- In a large bowl, combine broken up ginger bread, glacé cherries, white marshmallows, coconut, rice bubbles and almonds (if using). Then stir in about 3/4 of the crushed candy canes, reserving some for sprinkling on top.
- In a plastic bowl or jug that is perfectly clean and dry, place 2 1/2 of the blocks of chocolate, broken up. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds, then leave for 2 minutes. Continue doing this until most of the chocolate is melted.
- When the chocolate is basically melted with a few chunks left, add in the remaining chocolate and leave to sit for five minutes. It is important to melt the chocolate slowly to avoid it seizing. If it still has lumps, give it a stir with a clean dry spoon and put it back in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until melted.
- Pour most of the melted chocolate into the dry ingredients and stir. Tip these into the prepared baking tray and press flat.
- Gradually pour the remaining melted chocolate all over the baking tray, filling in any gaps and rough spots for a smooth finish.
- Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy canes and refrigerate until set.
- To cut, allow to sit out for a few minutes before cutting with a large knife.
The dangers of melting chocolate
If your melted chocolate turns into something resembling coconut rough, it has probably seized. While you can’t fix it per se, something that has worked for me in the past is to add a little bit of oil while it’s warm, stir vigorously and use as if nothing happened. It’s not ideal and the texture won’t be perfect but if you sprinkle enough desicated coconut and crushed candy canes over the top, no one will know the difference!
(They totally will and you’re so much better off ducking to the shops for more chocolate!)