Wagon Wheels by Stephen Jackson
ANOTHER dismal Bank Holiday. I despair; I really do. I still can’t believe how cold it is, and we’re in May already.
The weather gods are certainly having a bit of fun with us.
So the salads are taking a back seat for now, because all I feel like doing is making hot dishes, or spending lots of time upstairs in the patisserie at the café, playing about making biscuits and keeping warm thanks to our nice big cake oven.
The Oreo cookies I made recently went down very well, so I decided to have a go at something biscuit-y, but a little more British, and a true childhood favourite for many of us, the Wagon Wheel.
There are few biscuits more capable of stirring up serious nostalgic feelings than this schoolyard snack of the 1970s – a huge disc of crunchy biscuit, sandwiched together with sticky marshmallow and a blob of jam, the whole thing dunked in creamy milk chocolate. Individually wrapped in shiny gold foil with cowboy-style typeface, it was a real treat to find in the lunchbox.
Many of us will remember the Wagon Wheel being much bigger than they are today, but apparently the manufacturers deny this, and research shows that they are actually only a few millimetres smaller, due to a change in the manufacturing process. Perhaps it’s because our hands were much smaller back then!
Anyway, I’d got a bee in my bonnet about these, and set about formulating a recipe to share with you. I decided to use a nice rich biscuit recipe I’d used before – the muscovado sugar and vanilla give it a real depth of flavour, and the requisite crunch. Accomplished biscuiteers will know that the essential element of the wagon wheel biscuit really is the marshmallow, and may be getting anxious already. No need. Despite seeming a bit daunting, it’s actually quite easy to make marshmallow, and the home-made version, properly scented with vanilla, is a million miles better than the extruded-sugary shop-bought versions.
You will, however, need to fork out for a sugar thermometer, but it’s a pretty handy piece of kitchen kit, and essential for making caramels, toffee and a lot of meringue-based cakes and whatnots.
All we need to add is a little lick of raspberry jam, and some good-quality milk chocolate and we’re away. The recipe sounds and looks a bit complex, but it’s not that hard if you set out all the ingredients and equipment before you get going.
Never has the maxim ‘read the recipe through before starting’ rung so true. It will be a little messy, but boy is it worth the faff – these home-made versions are so delicious, you’ll be making batch after batch.
Just remember to slap those grasping little hands away and enjoy the first one yourself. Chef’s prerogative. Aprons on!