I thought this might be a good treat recipe to try out for the kiddos – it’s got a cookie crust, chocolate, a few nuts, marshmallows – seemed perfect! Upon trying to pass my own kiddo’s inspection, though, it got an automatic downgrade for the use of nuts. So I told her we’d leave some off part of the pan and we’d just call hers Road Bars. It’s the nuts that make the rocky part in Rocky Road, right? Is that a debate in anyone’s circle? I told kiddo that marshmallows can’t be rocky when they’re all soft and squishy, so, mom wins. And you can see what kind of logic we must work with in my house. For a dessert! Heh!
The recipe only really calls for one kind of chocolate, but if you’re like me, you’ve got not quite enough of that one chocolate, but also a quarter bag of another and even a little bit more of yet another chocolate. So you decide to be frugal, use them all up and tada – dessert. Money saving – we like. There’s no need to buy yet another bag when you can just combine what you already have.
Like a lot of bar cookie recipes, this one uses a relatively easy-t-do shortbread cookie crust. Here it looks like a cat’s been playing in the sandbox, but see below for a tip on smoothing it out.
Use a heavy-bottomed glass cup or mug to pres the shortbread a little more and get rid of some of your finger indentations. Most shortbread crusts we’ve made smooth out pretty well in the oven, but if yours is a little, well, rocky as ours was, it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and smooth it out a little more if you’d like to.
To your chocolate, you’ll add some heavenly heavy cream. You’re basically making a ganache, albeit a slightly thicker one. Still, once your pan of bar cookies sets, the chocolate layer won’t be quite hard, so to speak, slightly softer than chocolate you’d eat in a bark candy recipe, yet not quite as soft as ganache that’s pour-able on a cake and set up. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m asking that a lot on here lately. It won’t get rock hard even if you refrigerate it for an hour. There.
So there that heavenly stuff is, nice and thick and lickable. Just FYI, we used a combo of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, which made it taste extra good i my opinion. The taste of the chocolate alone got compliments the next day at work.
Because the chocolate never really hardens much, you’ll need to press the marshmallows and nuts into the chocolate a little. Just FYI, they will be a little hard to cut, but if you use a sharp knife, all will be well, my cookie-craving friends.
Ladies and gents – the nuts! I’ve seen different types used and discussed in relation to Rocky Road. We used pecans since I had those on hand, but you could also use peanuts or almonds, roughly chopped. If you like your desserts a little on the salty/sweet side, go ahead and use the salted variety of nuts, just maybe not too much salt. Some stores carry nuts that are only lightly salted.
Marshmallows aren’t my thing, but this classic combination of sweet and salty treats might be an exception. They’re a little messy to cut and serve, but, again, that’s pretty much classic Rocky Road for you. The chocolate layer was probably everyone’s favorite this time, and even I have to admit the marshmallows were worth getting through to get to it. Kidlet loved her “non-nutties” version – her words – and even requested I make the recipe again, and, I assure you, this is exceedingly rare even for desserts. Fun, a little quirky, and surprisingly good, these bar cookies were a hit.
Rocky Road Bars
from King Arthur Flour
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: about 40 minutes Chill Time: 15-30 minutes Level: Easy Makes: a lot
For the crust:
- 1 cup (16 tablespoons) salted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt*
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
*If you use unsalted butter, increase the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
For the topping:
- 3 cups chopped semisweet or dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup toasted diced pecans
- 3 cups (half a 10.5-ounce package) mini marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or line with parchment and grease the parchment.
To make the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in the flour. The dough will seem very dry, and won’t seem to want to become cohesive at first. Just keep beating, and it’ll eventually come together.
Press the dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingers or a mini rolling pin (pastry roller). The dough will feel stiff, but just keep pressing on it until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork; this will keep it from bubbling up as it bakes.
Bake the crust for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden brown around the edges and beginning to brown on the top. Remove it from the oven, and loosen the edges with a heat-resistant plastic knife or a table knife. Make the topping while the shortbread begins to cool.
To make the topping: Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan. Heat in the microwave, or over low heat on a burner, until the cream is steaming and barely beginning to form bubbles.
Remove from the heat, and stir. The chocolate will gradually form a lump in the center of the bowl, then will start to expand as it absorbs the cream. Eventually the chocolate and cream will become one; keep stirring until it’s very smooth. If all the chocolate doesn’t seem melted, reheat very briefly, and keep stirring.
Spread the warm chocolate atop the cookie crust. Sprinkle with the marshmallows, then the pecans.
Cover the pan, and place the bars in the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes, to set the chocolate a bit.
Using a sharp knife or baker’s bench knife, cut 2″ bars. Transfer to a serving plate, if desired; or serve right from the pan.
Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage; but be aware these bars are tastier fresh than frozen and thawed.
I personally felt these bar cookies tasted better the next day. The shortbread crust, especially, was better. Not as dry. We did need to let the chocolate set up in the fridge a lot longer, thirty or more minutes, and it was still rather soft when cutting the bars, but manageable enough in the end. How many you get out of this recipe will depend on how big you cut your bars.