Sometimes, American bakes can’t just taste of what they taste of. For some reason you can’t just have choc-n-nut. I don’t know what possesses them. They must think that choc-n-nut will be a tad dull. Let’s use dark muscovado sugar for a treacle undertone. And some vanilla extract. And some coconut. And some cinnamon. And uncle Tom Cobley and all. Before you know it you’ve got a hotch-potch of flavours all battling for attention. So this choc-n-nut snack cake, a traybake which could have been a simple triumph of chocolate and nuts, ends up being a cacophony of chocolate and nuts and everything but the kitchen sink.
It’s not right, but it’s OK…
This recipe is not all bad. It’s quick enough once the preparation is done. The most laborious part is chopping the nuts and chocolate. If you buy them ready prepared you can dive straight in, because after that it’s mostly just a case of adding the ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer and giving it a mix. Pour the cake mixture into the tin. Then scatter an assortment of goodies over the top. I think because of the treacle-y undercurrent it would be a lovely thing to have on a chilly night sat in front of the fire. Most of my tasters gave it the thumbs up. They just said it was a little bit too busy. That there was too much going on.
…I’m gonna make it anyway.
As it is, this is good. And I would definitely make this recipe again. I just think I would strip it right back. I already took out the cinnamon. Now I love cinnamon. I once made a cake where I mistakenly put in 4 tablespoons instead of teaspoons. And it was great. Because there really is no such thing as too much cinnamon. But even I felt that in this instance it was an ingredient too far. I would swap the muscovado sugar for granulated. I would lose the coconut too. I would just like to see what the simple delight of choc-n-nut would be like. Because although the original recipe was American, it doesn’t always need to be all singing, all dancing, 110 percent rootin-tootin highfalutin all the time. I think that sometimes, a little British reserve can be a good thing.
A tin to bake it in.
In America the standard size for traybakes is 9 inches by 13 inches. That’s 23cm by 33cm in English money. If you can invest in a tin of this size you will never go short of things to bake in it. There are many, many recipes to be found online for things like church supper desserts, sheet cakes and big batch brownies. Ahh. You know. You’ve seen them too. You should easily be able to cut these bakes into between 12 and 24 pieces depending on how many people you are feeding, and how hungry/greedy those people are. I think our friends across the pond call it the pan that can. And if I might use some alternative words of a rhyming nature, it’s the tray for today. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
NUTTY SAND BARS.
- 300g Plain Flour.
- 300g Dark Muscovado Sugar.
- 1 tsp Cinnamon (optional).
- 110g Margarine.
- 1 tsp Baking Powder.
- ½ tsp Salt.
- 1 Egg.
- 240ml Whole Milk.
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract.
- 100g Milk Chocolate Chunks.
- 100g White Chocolate Chunks.
- 100g Brazil Nuts (chopped).
- 30g Desiccated Coconut.
- Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 23 x 33cm traybake tin so the greaseproof paper overhangs on the two long sides.
- Using the paddle attachment, beat together the flour, sugar, cinnamon (if using) and margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Remove 1 cup (240ml) of the mixture. Set aside for the topping later.
- Add the baking powder and salt to the original mixture and beat to combine.
- In a pouring jug, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla extract.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the milk mixture and beat until just combined.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth. No more than two minutes.
- Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface, if necessary.
- Scatter the chocolate chunks, chopped Brazil nuts and desiccated coconut evenly over the surface.
- Scatter the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and the cake is pulling away from the edge of the tin slightly.
- Cool completely in the tin before carefully lifting out using the greaseproof paper.
- Cut into squares or bars to serve.