Hello Koala fans!
Today marks a very special occasion – I’ve now officially bagged http://www.koalainthekitchen.com as my new web address. From your perspective, things won’t change too much – if you put in the old WordPress address, it’ll still take you to all your favourite Koala-y goodness. All it means is that if you want to spread the word about the blog, the address is a little easier to remember.
It’s been really relaxing back home with the family and Santa was nice enough to bring a few shiny bits and pieces this year. Highlights included a limited edition album, a PS4 I’m sharing with my brother in law and the usual Terry’s Chocolate Orange in the stocking.
The new website address made me think about subtle changes and how they can make a big difference. It also put me in mind of Pokémon. For those unfamiliar with the game, Pokémon are small creatures that fight a lot and every so often undergo a very, very quick evolution into a slightly different form. The basic creature is still vaguely the same (e.g, it usually still keeps its wings, legs or ability shoot bolts of lightning out of its behind) but it has a slightly new twist to it (two sets of wings, standing on its hind legs or shooting lightning out of its ears). I decided to revisit an old recipe that I did waaaaay back at the beginning of the blog and give it a tweak.
I still wanted to make something for the folks at work and I suspected that by the time we all got back from Christmas, anything featuring mincemeat or fruitcake was liable to make people nauseous. This called for something light and not overly sweet and Lucy’s Mars Bar Cakes (hi Lucy!) seemed to fit the bill. There were two potential “evolutions” I had in mind for this – one was mixing in a tiny amount of crushed peanuts and some crushed peanut butter M&Ms, with a few extra peanut bits scattered over the chocolate. The other idea was “50/50 Krispies”. Usually with Mars Bar cakes, you use standard rice crispies but I found myself wondering what would happen if I used a combination of rice crispies and coco pops.
The coco pops would help offset a little of the sweetness but added an extra element of chocolate to it. While not necessarily a bad thing, I wanted to mix up the flavour a little more. Then I had another idea. A long time ago, when I was as young, sweet and adorable as a koala, there was a chocolate bar called Milky Way. Essentially, it was a Mars Bar without the caramel in it and made much smaller for young kids. A few years ago, they modified the recipe quite considerably so that instead of a chocolate nougat in the centre, they went with a creamy vanilla nougat. The texture was still the same but the flavour was quite different. I found myself thinking that if I swapped out one of the Mars Bars for a couple of Milky Ways, I could impart some of that creamy vanilla flavour into the 50/50s. It would still bind together as well (I hoped, although the loss of the extra caramel did worry me) and the vanilla flavour would be a nice counterpart to the coco pops.
The methodology was still exactly the same – melt the butter, the Mars Bars (or equivalents) and the golden syrup together and mix in the cereal. As with the previous version, the process tends to be a lot quicker if all the bits are diced up.
Fortunately, the golden syrup did not need to be divided up into squares. When my mum used to make these for my siblings and I years ago, she didn’t used any golden syrup in the process, relying instead on the stickiness of the Mars Bars to do the work of binding everything together. In this case however, I made sure to add the full 2 tbsps worth to offset the caramel lost by using Milky Ways instead of Mars Bars.
Being Christmas in the UK, it meant that it was absolutely freezing outside. So after spreading the basic mixture into the tray…
…I added the chocolate and left it on the windowsill to set.
The white chocolate buttons were more for decoration than flavouring. My initial plan was to divide them up and while the chocolate was still hot, drop them in so that they would melt and be swirled across the top with a fork. Dividing them up took longer than expected and by the time came to scatter them, the chocolate had cooled too much.
I was a little nervous as to how well they would turn out, given that my previous baking Frankensteins have been less than stellar, but I pleased to say these turned out reasonably well. When snacking in front of Frozen for the 20th time (and a big hello to niece Lily if she can tear her attention away from Disney princesses for two seconds), they taste like standard Mars Bar cakes. If you give them a little time to sit on the tongue, you really can taste the extra vanilla and cocoa. As I said at the beginning, subtle changes can make a difference. =)