So I’m not big on Halloween. Which is pretty unusual because I’m a freaking nutter for Christmas. Easter isn’t as high on the list as Christmas but it’s also pretty cool. But yeah Halloween was never as massive in Australia as it is in the US so I’ve never done anything particularly Halloweeny before. Ever. Until now!
Ok I’m sliiiightly delayed. I know, I dropped the ball. But really, I did make this for Halloween….really! My workmates and family (who devoured it all) can attest. But I guess in actual fact, you can make this for any time. It’s that, damn, good!
When I think of Halloween, the obvious choice is things like ghosts, goblins and ghouls but when I think of the food, pumpkin is the first thing that comes to mind. I’m a massive fan of pumpkin in savoury dishes but have never really tried them in sweet so figured I would give it a go. I found an awesome recipe for a spiced pumpkin cake and got to making. The idea was to actually shape the cake like a pumpkin, carve it, ice it and put a candle in it like a proper little jack-o-lantern. Epic fail on this one. And hey, let’s be honest, when you fail at making a cake and have nothing but crumbs, you make cake pops! Well I do anyway. This time, I wanted to do something different, mainly because I had make cake pops recently and taken them in for our Bake Off. What to do, what to do? I had a crazy idea of still making the cake pops mix (i.e. crumbled cake and cream cheese frosting combined) but pressing it in to a brownie tin, and slicing it. But how could I make it better? Marshmalloooooooow! Chocolaaaaaaaaaate! And so, my Chocolate Coated Pumpkin and Marshmallow Bars were born.
You can really do this with any flavour cake or icing, and also any type of marshmallow. Seeing as this was my first time making marshmallow (and our kitchen will never be the same…..sshhh it’s still a touchy subject with Stud, *whispers* we don’t talk about it), I went with a basic marshmallow.
Adapted from Evil Chef Mom
1½ cups of pumpkin puree (I roasted ½ a butternut pumpkin which equated to 1½ cups)
6 oz. (3/4 cup) butter; extra for greasing
9 oz. (2 cups) plain flour
1-1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp table salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter and line two 9-inch round cake tins with non-stick baking paper.
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, bicarb soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a mixing bowl, whisk 1½ cups of the pumpkin puree with the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Slowly add the brown butter until completely incorporated (It’s going to look greasy for a second and like it will never incorporate. It will). Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins.
Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes (fan forced). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, and let cool completely.
Once completely cooled, crumble cakes in to large bowls. You can use a fork and scrape it in to crumbs, crumble it with your fingers, or put it in a food processor and pulse until you have rough crumbs (you don’t want it too fine though). Set aside.
Cream Cheese Icing
600g icing sugar
250g cream cheese, softened
100g softened butter
Beat icing sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until completely incorporated. Check for flavour (you may want to add more sugar if you like it sweeter).
Combine icing with crumbled cake and mix until well combined. You may need to do this in batches.
Butter and line 2 brownie tins with non-stick baking paper and press cake mixture in.
Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or until hard. Turn out bars and return to fridge.
Recipe from Taste
½ cup (75g) icing sugar, sifted
500g caster sugar
1 tbs liquid glucose (see note)
2 tbs gelatine powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (75g) cornflour
Grease and line same brownie pans used for cake bars. Dust inside of pan with 2 tablespoons icing sugar. Combine the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 200ml water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until a sugar thermometer reaches 120°C.
Place 200ml cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the powdered gelatine and then stand for 10 minutes. Place the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and stir until completely clear. Slowly add the gelatine mixture into the sugar syrup. Be careful as at this point it will start to bubble and may overflow your saucepan (*whispers* but again, we don’t talk about this)
Beat eggwhites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Continue to beat while you gradually add the sugar syrup, then beat for a further 10 minutes until mixture thickens and becomes glossy. Fold in the vanilla and pour the mixture into the pan. Stand for 1 hour until firm.
Using a cake cutter, split mixture in half lengthways (as if cutting layers in a cake) and place each marshmallow batch on top of a cake slab.
Return to fridge for an hour or so to allow it to set together.
Chocolate Coated Pumpkin and Marshmallow Bars
500g chocolate (I used a mixture of dark and milk but you can use whatever takes your fancy!)
Prepared cake/marshmallow slab
20ml olive oil (You can use a flavourless oil if you like, but I love using a full bodied olive oil as it gives the chocolate a great flavour)
Line 3 baking trays with non-stick paper and place a wire rack on each.
Using a hot knife, cut slabs in to squares or rectangles (I did one of each) and place on wire rack.
Melt 500g chocolate in the microwave and then stir in olive oil. You may need to add less or more olive oil, I basically use it as a thinner (a trick I learnt from the fabulous Bel).
Pour chocolate over each square/rectangle until covered completely on the top and place in the fridge until set.