Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pinky Bar Slice

In New Zealand Cadbury's make a bar called a Pinky and it is delicious. It is also amazingly simple, I have no idea why it is only in NZ. It is mostly pink marshmallow, with a layer of caramel on the top and covered in chocolate. It is great alternative to a Mars bar or something so heavy, it is light and fluffy and if you are concerned about your diet it has slightly less calories than those bars that are all nougat and peanuts. I miss it. The ad for it on TV when I was a child featured the song 'Leader of the Pack' and was an animated black and white drawing with just small bits of colour, and was something to do with a group of girls symphathising (through song) with a girl who's boyfriend is a bit wild and has roared off on a motorbike, which I think crashes (there is the sound of tires screeching in the song) and somehow this relates to Pinky bars. I think it is just because it is sort of girly. Great song though.

So a couple of weeks ago I was talking with friends and somehow marshmallow came up, I can't even remember the conversation now but it was something to do with the marshmallow plant and how marshmallow was made. Now it turns out that there is such a thing as a marshmallow plant and the first candy was made with it by extracting the sap or boiling the root and sweetening it, way back in Egyptian times, and then much later the French began whipping it, and finally they swapped the plant for gelatine and cornflour and automated the process. Giving us modern marshmallows. But the possibility of making such a thing yourself at home was in doubt despite my assurances to the contrary. Of course you can make marshmallow at home! It is good. My friend's aunty used to make marshmallow shortcake so I promised that I would make some to prove that it can be done and is delicious. Of course as always happened I couldn't stop there, I had to go further and want more than just marshmallow shortcake.

The inspiration to improve the marshmallow shortcake came last week, while eating banoffie muffins and thinking about what I should do with the leftover caramel in order to preven myself just from eating it straight from the jar and then feeling terribly ill. I thought to myself that I should make caramel slice, but I had already planned to make marshmallow shortcake at some point and I really wanted to try this recipe again because it has been years since I used it. Then I thought, would it be too much to add a layer of caramel between the marshmallow and the shortcake? I racked my brains trying to think of an example of such a combination just to prove that I wasn't overdoing it. Finally I realised that of course a Pinky bar has both marshmallow and caramel! Thus a new recipe was born.

Caramel Marshmallow Shortcake
(A.K.A. Pinky Bar Slice)

125 grams butter
3/4 cup (160 grams or so) sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 3/4 cup (275 grams) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon custard powder

Caramel (optional, leave it out to make simple marshmallow shortcake)

3 teaspoons gelatine
3 tablespoons (50 mL) boiling water
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
2/3 cup (160 mL) water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or rasberry/strawberry for different flavoured marshmallow, or even a couple of teaspoons of jam. I used rasberry jam and vanilla essence)
Red food colouring
1 teaspoon cornflour

Dessicated coconut

Now, I realise that this seems like a huge list of ingredients but really it is not so complicated! I mean, it is more work than plain old cookies and even a cake, on account of the marshmallow. But it still only took me about an hour, and I don't even have a cake mixer, had to hold the beater for ages.

To begin! The shortcake base comes first and is easy. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees celsius and grease a square or rectangle tin ( I had to use two because I have no swiss roll tin, the classic slice tin that we use at home, only small tins, I really must find myself one!). Soften the butter a little and then cream in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and beat well. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well - you may have to use your hands to do this as it forms a rather stiff dough. Then press the dough into the prepared tin and pop into the oven for 10 minutes. As I said above, it's been a very long time since I made this recipe, and following it I baked the base for 15 minutes but it is far too crisp! It is really a biscuity shortbread base so to make it more chewy (and more slicable) I would really recommend only baking for 10 minutes.

While the shortcake is cooking you can begin the marshmallow. My own recipe was copied down from my friend a long time ago and is not very detailed, I could not quite remember how the mixture is supposed to look so I googled it and got some hints. Thus I have changed the method slightly, for instance wikihow told me to place the gelatine in cold water and let it sit for a little while. I'm not sure why, but sure why not try it? Only I still used boiling water, just let it sit awhile. So here goes, if you have a cake mixer I suggest using it as you need to beat this for like 15 minutes or so.

Take your first measure of water and place in a large bowl, then sprinkle the gelatine on top. Give it a mix, but it won't dissolve in such a small volume of water. Just let it sit. While the gelatine soaks place the sugar and second measure of water in a pot and bring to the boil (a heavy-bottomed pot is best, helps spread out the heat and stops the sugar sticking to the bottom and burning). Once it has boiled take it from the heat and pour it into the gelatine mixture. Add your flavouring and colour and begin beating! I did this in steps because I got bored of beating, so I gave it a good mix and then let it sit and cool, and then beat it again for awhile, like 5 minutes at a time, and then let it sit and cool further. (During this time do not forget to take the shortcake out of the oven!) I kept doing this and after it was sort of thick and pale just barely warm added the cornflour, sifted over the top. I have read that you should mix it with the sugar at the boiling step but I have not done so in the past and did not want to create a big gluey mess. This way worked like a charm, immediately the mixture thickened and got creamier. I kept on beating it and letting it cool until it was quite thick - it should be like stiff egg whites. Finally I was ready to put my layers together.

First spread your caramel over the base - you needn't cool the base first. If it is warm the caramel will melt and spread easier. If it is cold, that's OK too. Then you gently pour or spoon the marshmallow over. It should be thick and viscous and hold it's shape a little, so that if there is too much mixture it will not spill and drip but hold together on the top of the slice. But to thicken properly it needs to cool for a good few hours. If you like you can sprinkle coconut over the top, that is what I have always done for marshmallow shortcake. However, in turning this into Pinky Bar Slice I think it needs a bit of chocolate! Not too much though or it will give us all diabetes. However before the chocolate step it must be chilled and set so that we don't end up make a big spilt marshmallow mess.

To add the final touch to my creation I melted about 75 grams of dark chocolate (by which I mean the plain ordinary baking stuff, about 50 % cocoa solids) over a pot of boiling water. I intended to drizzle it over but my melted chocolate turned out not to be drizzleable! So I spread it, and it turns out that marshmallow does not like being spread on! It feels very strange and gelatinous and sort of began to seep over the edges (because I had removed it from the tin). So I had to tidy up the edges of course, and the marshmallow tastes really good! However, three layers is generally enough and on second thoughts I think the chocolate was a total extravagance and that it should have been left without. Maybe just a sprinkling of coconut to help reduce the stickiness, or maybe left plain.

Now it is late and I must go to sleep. I have sampled far too much of the caramel, marshmallow and chocolate and am left with a tummy-ache. It is time for bed and hopefully in the morning I will actually get up when my alarm rings and go for a run. That way I will feel very hungry and up to eating such a ridiculously decadent treat as what I have baked this week!

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