I’ve entered this post in the Forever Nigella blogging event hosted by Laura over at laura loves cakes. This event was originally organized by Sarah from maison cupcake. This is number 21 in the series, and the theme of the month is… Christmas!!! This is perfect, because if you’re familiar with Ms. Lawson, she loves Christmas. And so do I.
My favorite Nigella cookbooks are Nigella Kitchen, Feast, and Nigella Christmas. I can’t narrow those down any further. They’re all so unique and wonderful, full of hearty and rustic recipes. Nothing too fancy and fussy. She had a tv show on at one time in the U.S., and she was a hoot to watch. She’s extremely funny and irreverent. She embraces just about all food and drink, loves her family, and loves parties. We should be friends.
A few years ago I took a road trip with a couple girlfriends. I’d just received Nigella Kitchen in the mail from Amazon, so of course I took it with me. Who doesn’t take cookbooks on vacation for reading material? In the car, I read excerpts from the book, whilst attempting to channel her voice. I wasn’t good at it, but even in a bad accent she’s really funny, although I sometimes need a dictionary to figure out what she’s saying.
This is a Nigella recipe that she adapted for her Christmas cookbook, making it more Christmassy! I’ve made it a couple of times before, and it’s become a holiday favorite for my family.
I’m not sure why I made it the first time, actually. I don’t love candied fruit, marshmallows are strange, I don’t like rocky road ice cream, and we’re really not a sweets family. But am I glad I took a chance on her recipe.
In the past I’ve followed the recipe almost exactly, except for the fact that I’ve always substituted other cookies for the Amaretti, because I could never find them. I used shortbread once, and gingersnaps the other time; both turned out fabulous.
But this year I ordered Amaretti in August, so I was prepared to make Christmas Rocky Road! I made a few changes to enhance the Christmas theme of these fudgey bars. I love Brazilnuts, but I substituted pistachios for their obvious green color, and I added some dried cranberries for their scarlet color. So here’s this year’s version of Nigella’s Christmas Rocky Road:
Christmas Rocky Road
1 bag Amaretti cookies, 7 ounces
1 cup whole pistachios
1 cup whole candied cherries, plus a few extra
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
15 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 cup Lyle’s golden syrup
In a food processor, pulse the amaretti cookies until they are a coarse crumble. Place them in a large bowl.
Add the pistachios, candied cherries, dried cranberries, and mini marshmallows, and set aside.
To the top pan of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, and golden syrup. Heat about 2” of water in the pot below until it is gently simmering; the water should not boil, and should not touch the pan on top. We are melting the chocolate, not cooking it. Then, place the pan with the chocolate mixture on top. Using a spatula, occasionally stir the mixture as it melts. This should take about 10 minutes.
Have a 9 x 13” pan ready.
When the chocolate and butter have melted, pour this into the cookie mixture in the large bowl. Using the spatula, fold everything together until completely incorporated. Then pour this mixture into the pan, using the spatula. Push it all around so it fills the corners, and is relative smooth on top. Using any extra cherries, if you wish, push them into the bars in random locations.
Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
When you are ready to serve the bars, slice them into big squares and remove them from the pan. If you wish to cut them smaller, it’s easier to do on a cutting board. If desired, sprinkle the Christmas Rocky Road with sifted powdered sugar.