Saturday, March 20, 2010

Not Chinese, and not chewy

So why call them Chinese chews (p61)? I suspect the name was chosen more for pleasant alliterative effect than as an actual description of the slice. But when I saw the name and the list of ingredients, I couldn't wait to make it.

I didn't expect there to be anything Chinese about it, but I pictured a chewy, almost muesli-barish slice comprised of some of my favourite ingredients: crystalised ginger, dates, walnuts and rolled oats, all glued together with a small amount of dough.

I did have one slight hiccup when making the mixture, in that I only had 3/4 cup of brown sugar, so I had to top it up with white. Apart from that, I had no problems with the recipe - it was very quick and easy.

The slice is supposed to be made in a 23cm square tin. Since I don't have one of these, I once again pulled out my adjustable tin (with a certain amount of trepidation and a couple of layers of baking paper) and worked out a size that would have a similar area to a  23x23cm tin.

Actually the adjustable tin was very useful when it came to a common slice-making problem: trying to spread the mixture out so it reaches the edges of the tin. I always have trouble stretching out the mix so it evenly fills the tin. This time, I was able to do the opposite and fit the tin to the mixture. Sweet!

The stated cooking time is 30-35 minutes. I took mine out before the 30-minute mark, as it was looking quite brown on top and I decided it was done.

You cut the slice while it's hot, supposedly into 30 squares.  I cut mine into quite small fingers and only got 24. I think 30 is pushing it, but then my tin was a different size and shape to the one recommended.

When you consider my expectations of this slice, the result was a bit disappointing. It's basically a fairly bland cakey slice with dates, ginger and walnut in it. To be fair, my substitution of plain sugar for some of the brown would not have helped the blandness, and my use of quick-cook oats instead of whole ones would make for a less chewy texture.

It's quite dry too: I'm convinced it's overcooked, even though I baked it for less time than it said in the recipe. It's not the first time this has happened - perhaps I just have a hot oven. I'll have to keep an eye on that.

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