Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not a complete nut bar

I'd finally run through all my soggy sultana cake, so I needed something else to put in my lunchbox for morning tea. A quick perusal of the slices and squares chapter found me a recipe I would be able to make without a rush supermarket trip for extra ingredients: Chocolate nut bars (p62).

It's a fairly standard slice recipe: cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs, add dry ingredients. Then you mix in cornflakes, coconut and chopped nuts - which takes a bit of effort, since the mixture is already pretty firm before all this is added. The resulting mixture looks very similar to afghan mix, except for the coconut.

I pressed the mix into a tin and baked it for half an hour. When it came out, I had to let it cool in the tin before doing the icing. There wasn't too much of a delay, though, because it didn't take long to cool down on a stainless-steel bench in my chilly kitchen. 

While I was waiting for the slice to cool, I spent a little time replicating a device I'd used when I worked at Brumby's. An old lid from a Indian takeaway container was about the right thickness, so I took to it with some scissors, and a short time later I had a reasonable approximation of the icing tool I wanted.

I decided to use the sachet of chocolate icing I had in the cupboard - left over from my first purchase of Edmonds Cake mix - instead of making icing from scratch. There's no sense letting it go to waste, after all - and I've already tried two of the three chocolate icing recipes in my Edmonds book. I won't be lacking in opportunities to try out the third one!

I was slightly dubious when I saw that the contents of the icing sachet were an odd grey colour, but mixed with water and margarine, the icing quickly turned a dark and decadent-looking brown. The colour became lighter as I beat the icing according to the instructions, and it wasn't long before it was ready to use.

I spread the icing evenly over the slice, and then had a go at making wavy lines in my icing with my newly-made icing tool. I'm a bit out of practice, so the lines were not very even, but it looked kinda cool anyway.

The thick, creamy icing held my wavy lines quite nicely, but I was worried that, since it was made with marge and not butter, the icing might not set properly and I would have gooey icing to deal with when packing my lunchbox. There was only one way to find out - I stuck the slice in the fridge and left it to see if the icing would set.

One hour later, the icing had shown no signs at all of setting. I gave up and resigned myself to sticky fingers. I went to cut the slice, and was surprised to find that, in contrast to the gooey icing, the slice itself was rock-hard. I'd expected something more cakey. This made it more difficult to cut, but eventually I had the whole slice cut into manageable 'bars'.

Gooey icing aside, this slice is quite tasty. Though I've described it as 'rock-hard' to cut, it's actually only pleasantly crunchy when you're eating it. I'm not sure why they called it 'chocolate nut bars', since the nuts are quite a minor ingredient compared to the coconut and cornflakes. But whatever you call it, it's a nice treat for morning tea. I just wish I'd made my own icing..

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