Do you have a food that just whizzes you back in time whenever you eat it? It's the ultimate comfort food - one which wraps you in a big tummy hug and says "It's OK... you're 14 again."
For me, that food is the insanely unhealthy Mars Bar Cake. Most days after school, we would go into my friend Fern's house. Hers was the first house we stopped at on the way home, and she also had ALL the Sky channels. So we'd sit for a while, flicking between MTV Hits and Q, and ever so often, Mars Bar Cake would appear.
There's no real secret to the Mars Bar Cake. Really, it's just a big Rice Krispie bun made with mars bar and slathered in melted chocolate. At some point, the recipe was taken over by Lindsey. She'd make it for all the important occasions, often bringing it over to me in a pretty tin for birthdays, where I would promptly hide it under my bed to avoid sharing it with everyone.
It's marked birthdays, engagements, baby showers and baby births. And it's also what Lindsey chose to make for her wedding favours.
She'd also chosen to make her own wedding cake, by the way. The week of her wedding. A three tier monstrosity of intense chocolate, lemon drizzle and some Hummingbird thing on top. I was there to help, as well as her husband, who used actual Pi to work out quantities. Pi! This is the one and only time I have seen algebra applied in real life.
Making wedding cake is a time consuming process, in case you're wondering. It can also be stressful and hilarious in equal measures. You use parts of your brain you never had, specifically the part of the brain that deals with how to glue a wonky, triangular shaped botched sponge into a reasonable shape using insane amounts of buttercream. This is the same layer, by the way, that ended up on the ground, facedown, with imprints of gravel and hands, in what can only be described as the funniest thing I've ever seen.
Originally, there had been talk of making the entire wedding cake a Mars Bar one. I was well and truly behind this plan, and may steal the idea if I ever get married myself. But in the end, it stayed as a favour. This was the nicest little thing to get on the wedding table. I'm kind of annoyed that I only got one, despite numerous attempts to steal from others.
If you want to make this for 140 people, then you'll need roughly the quantities you'll see below. Bear in mind, when I say 140 people I mean as a bite size thing. For a regular serving, which is about a brownie sized hunk, you'll need around...
5 Mars Bars
300g Dairy Milk
100g white chocolate
1 box of Rice Krispies or equivalent
Gather your ingredients, mostly just to look at them and marvel at what you see before you.
Cut up the Mars Bars. Be sure to taste a slice from each bar, for quality assurance.
In a saucepan, melt them on a medium to low heat with a huge chunk of butter. My mistake when making these myself was only using a tiny bit of butter, melting with a bain marie. This leaves you with a sturdier bar, and you need a hell of a lot more Mars Bars. More butter means a bit more of a crumbly texture, and it also melts a lot better.
Another bit of quality assurance, maybe.
A word on butter - I tend to use salted butter for everything, as I never have unsalted to hand. Personally, I think it makes everything better in life. I'd even be tempted to whack a pinch of sea salt in this the next time, for a salted caramel kick. But if you want to be a pansy, use unsalted. Obviously, don't use margarine. It's not the early 90s.
That's the kind of texture you want.
You'll really want to do some quality assurance here, but you might burn your mouth, so try to hold off for a few minutes.
Mix in your Rice Krispies. This is really a guessing game. You want almost all of them to be covered in the caramelly goo, but it can take quite a lot. Mix as you go with a wooden spoon and remember, you can always add more, but you can't take any away.
This is ideal coverage.
Smoosh into buttered lasagne dishes, and do a bit more quality assurance. Press them firmly down with the back of the wooden spoon.
Breathe it in. This is the melting of the top layer. You'll need to do this in a bain marie over barely simmering water. Don't let the water touch the bowl and don't, as someone did in my youth, TIP THE CHUNKS OF CHOCOLATE INTO THE SAUCEPAN OF WATER. Do that, and you're dead to me.
I'm going to be very specific here - you need to use Cadbury's Dairy Milk. This is the only chocolate that works for this recipe. It may burn the wallet, but don't use a cheapy equivalent and don't, for the love of God, use cooking chocolate. Do that, and you're dead to me.
In a seperate bowl, melt the white chocolate. You actually don't have to go Cadbury's here, as they never really got the hang of white chocolate. You could go generic, but Green and Black's make the best white, if you want to get fancy. You don't need too much here.
At this stage, it's vitally important to leave a bit of the base mix separate from the main dish, in order to dip chunks into the melted chocolate and eat straight away.
Pour the milk chocolate over the bases. You want a good thick layer here, so don't be tight.
Smooth out this layer. You don't want a perfectly smooth coat - the best bits are where you get a bit of texture and variety. But be quick, because you want to get the white chocolate on while both layers are still liquid.
Put the white chocolate on in blobs, and then get a fork and swirl baby, swirl. Be careful not to overmix - what you're looking for is a pretty marbled effect.
We found that we had a rather large chunk left over, which would have overcrowded the pans. So we put that in a bowl, and dumped the leftover chocolate on top. We then ate this, grins on our faces and chocolate in our hair.
You'll need to put this into the fridge to chill for a good few hours - it takes a surprisingly long time to set. Then you can cut into portions as greedy as you like.
Clean the bowls, and then thank us all for bringing this glory into your world.
Happy birthday, Lins!