Monday, 31 August 2015

Kitchen Experiment: Wagon Wheels (Wheat Free with Dairy Free Option)

And so, the first week of September begins: children and young people return to school and college, Limerick begins to get busier again as everyone returns from their holidays in Kilkee, and at last the shroud of boredom lifts from my work in the community centre. However, it will be some time before routine filters into my brain and wakes it out of the summertime haze of boredom and lethargy.

Having said that, this weekend I decided to do something a little experimental. On Friday I did make some toffee, but I forgot to photograph it and thus there was no recipe write up; I hope to rectify that this coming Friday. But yesterday, I tried my hand at making a household favourite: wagon wheels!

For my readers across the Atlantic, a 'Wagon Wheel' is exactly the same thing as a 'Moon Pie': two plain biscuits, sandwiched with fluffy marshmallow, enrobed in that mysteriously titled 'chocolate flavoured coating' stuff. Mine were a little different, using chocolate biscuits for sandwiching, and real dark chocolate for coating.

About two years ago, I tried my hand at sandwiching biscuits with marshmallow for the first time: I made some dinosaur shaped Kimberley biscuits (again, for those who don't live in Ireland, a Kimberley is two small gingerbread rounds, sandwiched with marshmallow, the sides of which have been dipped in coarse white sugar), and they were great. In hindsight, thinner biscuit would have been preferable, to have the appropriate biscuit to marshmallow ratio for optimum enjoyment.

This time, I again made the same mistake: I made my chocolate biscuits too thick, meaning the wagon wheels are far too big, which isn't an issue for people like me who have a significantly large sweet tooth (which makes finding gum shields that fit well an issue), but to normal folk would make them more of a dessert than a snack.

Another issue, which I will keep in mind for my next marshmallow adventure, is that I didn't use enough gelatine in the marshmallows and they were too soft, more like a melted marshmallow texture. In my mind, the biscuit should be soft, and the marshmallow firm.

If I make these again, I will do a full write up and recipe, but seeing as this was just an experiment, I will give you a log of how I made them.

To make these, I used a fairly standard biscuit recipe: I mixed 6 ounces (170 grammes) white spelt flour, 1 ounce (30 grammes) each of cornflour and cocoa powder, and a teaspoon (5 millilitres) of baking powder with 4 ounces (115 grammes) melted butter (or margarine for a dairy free option), 2 ounces (55 grammes) caster sugar, and enough milk to bind into a sticky dough. I then wrapped it in clingfilm, flattened it into a disc, and chilled for about 30 to 45 minutes. I rolled it out to just under half inch (about 1 centimetre) thickness and cut out rounds. If I were to do it again, the biscuit would be thicker, and contain more sugar and an egg for softness. I baked them for 15 minutes at 180*C, and let them cool before pairing them up with each other for sandwiching.

For the filling, I bloomed 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) of gelatine (by 'bloomed' I mean I soaked it in cold water to make it spongy) in a cup; I also put 1 egg white at room temperature into a large mixing bowl. I cooked 8 ounces (225 grammes) of caster sugar, 2 fluid ounces (60 millilitres) of water, and a few drops of lime juice (for acidity) to the firm ball stage, removed from the heat and stirred in the bloomed gelatine to melt. I whipped the egg white to soft peaks, then gradually added the syrup; in retrospect I could have done it a little more gradually, as the finished marshmallow didn't whip up as much as I'd have liked.

Once I'd made the marshmallow, I put it into a greased disposable piping bag, fitted with a greased large round piping nozzle. For each biscuit, I piped a big dollop of marshmallow into the middle of one biscuit, then sandwiched the other on top, squeezing gently to push the filling out to just short of the edges.

I let them sit for two hours before enrobing in chocolate, just to make sure the filling was mostly set. I melted 5 ounces (140 grammes) of dark chocolate with a rounded teaspoonful (about 5 or 10 millilitres) of coconut oil (to improve the flow for dipping) in a cereal bowl. I dipped each biscuit, flipping to cover both sides, shook off the excess coating then placed them on some lightly greased foil; I would have used baking paper, but I'd run out. I let them set overnight because I was doing this in the evening, but an additional 2 hours would suffice if you were doing them during the day.

I made the mistake of scraping the leftover chocolate onto the tops of the biscuits, and this cause the chocolate to cloud; this was a rookie mistake. So, my wonderful companion - who had already solved two previous culinary problems during the day - suggested that I dust them with icing sugar to hide the clouding. I did, and I also dusted some with cocoa powder for visual interest.

All in all, for a first attempt they turned out very well! Again, as aforementioned, I would make the filling firmer and the biscuits softer, and also make them thinner. I will try another batch and let you all know the results...

1 comment:

  1. good lord these look good! we used to get these in our lunch boxes as kids, the shop bought ones!


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