Homemade Vegetarian Wagon Wheels

Recently, it was our lovely Granny’s 80th birthday. Apart from helping our family throw her a birthday lunch and tea, we wanted to give her something extra special. But what do you give someone that has everything?

40 years ago, our Granny and Papaji had a shop which sold treats and necessities – a larger version of your regular newsagent. Despite having access to all sorts of sweets and goodies, Granny always chose the same thing: a Wagon Wheel. For those of you not acquainted with Wagon Wheels, they were (and are, to some degree) round, slightly soft biscuits sandwiched together with marshmallow and covered in a thin layer of chocolate. They’re a lot like American Moonpies or Chocopies in the Far East!

Anyway, even after they retired, Papaji used to bring home packets of these Wagon Wheels to our Granny because he knew she loved them. However, later in life they both cut out meat from their diets which also meant no Wagon Wheels  – as marshmallow (as you may know) contains gelatin. So what better present than to produce a 100% vegetarian version of her favourite treat?

Now, as a disclaimer, this isn’t an exact replica of the commercially available Wagon Wheels now as we’re not a fan of the soggy biscuit-dry marshmallow-crap chocolate combination (Wagon Wheels have seriously gone downhill) so we replaced the biscuit with a digestive biscuit, softened the marshmallow (used sparingly) and dipped the sandwich into gorgeous Belgian dark chocolate. These are Wagon Wheels for grown-ups!

Note: this recipe is vegetarian, not vegan as the marshmallow contains egg white and the biscuits/chocolate contain dairy. But if you are vegan, please feel free to experiment with egg and dairy replacers.

STEP 1: Make the biscuits.

We adapted this fabulous Gary Rhodes recipe for the digestive biscuit stage:

(Makes 12)

50g wholewheat flour
50g jumbo oats, that have been processed using a coffee grinder or food processor
25g soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp milk

  1. Mix all ingredients together and knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. This is tricky as the mixture is very short (as in, crumbly!). Don’t fret, just keep kneading.
  2. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan assisted).
  4. Take out the dough from the fridge and roll out gently on a floured surface using a rolling pin. Using a biscuit cutter (we just used a small plastic tumbler), press into the dough and lift the biscuit off the surface and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
  5. Continue with the rest of the dough until you get approximately 12 biscuits.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly golden (if you want a soft biscuit) or more golden and firm to the touch (if you want a crunchy biscuit).
  7. Set aside – or keep in an airtight tin for a couple of days.

Note: Feel free to use any biscuit recipe you like or buy ready-made from the supermarket.

STEP 2: Make the vegetarian marshmallow

We won’t be reproducing this fabulous recipe from Tasty Trifles, except to say that it produces more of a marshmallow fluff than a marshmallow – perfect for this recipe! It also has such a gorgeous vanilla flavour that one of us (Anchal) was eating this marshmallow right out of the container we stored it in. Yum. We halved the recipe but depending on how much you use for the Wagon Wheels, there may be some left. In that case, you can very easily freeze the mixture to use whenever you want. It’s a bit of a chemistry experiment but it comes together very quickly and you can buy pretty much all of the ingredients at the supermarket (except maybe the syrup).

STEP 3: Sandwich the biscuits together and cover in chocolate

It’s a good idea to refrigerate the marshmallow until you begin this process as the marshmallow tends to expand at room temperature.

300g (or so) dark Belgian chocolate

  1. Quickly spread 1 tbsp (or more if you like) of the marshmallow over 6 of the digestive biscuits.
  2. Top these 6 with the remaining 6 biscuits.
  3. Refrigerate as fast as you can!
  4. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Using two spoons, dip one of the biscuits into the chocolate and cover completely. (You must keep the other biscuits refrigerated while you do this.)
  5. Place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate immediately.
  6. Do this with the rest of the sandwiches.
  7. Et voila, you’ve just produced beautiful Wagon Wheels that are so much better than the store-bought version!
  8. Present the Wagon Wheels to someone you love who loves them! Remember to keep them in the fridge.

So what do you think? Feel free to share your questions and comments below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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