Continuing our tour of Australian treats!
While in Melbourne we visited the Queen Victoria Market several times. Like Vancouver’s Public Market, Florence’s Mercato de San Lorenzo or even Los Angeles’ own Original Farmer’s Market , Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is an eclectic circus of produce, fish, meat, and bespoke food stuffs.
While it was delightful pursuing the long rows of fresh produce and authentic Australia goods (kangaroo paw anyone?), our true fascination (read infatuation) was with the collection of tiny fine goods stalls in the original building.
We spent a good deal of enjoyed time oggling the fresh cheese, pasta and cured meat stalls.
And of course there were the patisseries and bakers. It was while TD was standing in line for his daily flat white that I spied a new-to-me treat at one such shop. The handwritten card labeled the brownie type good as “hedgehog slice.” Intrigued, I bought a wedge of the zebra (not really hedgehog) like confection.
First things first, the term “slice” appears in tandem with many Australian treats: hedgehog slice, caramel slice, cherry ripe slice, lemon slice, jelly slice…you get the idea. Generally, slice in Australia seems to fall into the same category as square or bar here in the U.S.
Sometimes slice is baked, while other times, like with the hedgehog, things are just sort of thrown together and then refrigerated (kind of like magic or nanaimo bars).
And, as with nearly every Australian baked good and candy we encountered, coconut plays a central roll. Our first impression (in the name of research) of hedgehog slice was that they were a sort fudge with vanilla cookie bits lightening up the deal (bet you never thought you’d see “cookie bits” and “lightening things up” in the same sentence).
Luckily, a review of recipes revealed that these are even easier to make than fudge. They require no baking and can be infinitely varied (I suggest subbing-in Tim Tams for the Marie cookies).
And, like the Anzac biscuits, these were a surprise hit.
About the name. I couldn’t really find a single answer as to why they’re called hedgehog slice. In fact, hedgehogs aren’t even native to Australia. Of course, neither are the British.
source: I tried out a couple of methods for making hedgehog slice. The method using sweetened condensed milk was delicious but didn’t set-up properly. The recipe below worked well the first, second and third times I tried them. As what happens with recipes, several I came across referred back to an original posting in a magazine called Women’s Weekly. The recipe below is a repost from a blog called Honey Kitchen
I’ve converted the appropriate measurements to US customary
- 1 ½ x 200g packets Marie biscuits, coarsely chopped
- 1 C chopped walnuts
- ½ C desiccated coconut (shredded works just fine)
- 250g (about 1 1/4 C) butter, chopped
- 1 ¼ C granulated sugar
- 1/3 C cocoa powder
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 150g (3/4 C) dark chocolate, melted
- ½ tsp vegetable oil
- Grease a 9X9 pan and line base and two long sides with parchment paper, extending paper 2cm above edges of pan.
- Combine biscuits, nuts and coconut in large bowl.
- Place butter, sugar and sifted cocoa in a medium pan; stir over heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; whisk in egg.
- Pour chocolate mixture over biscuit mixture; mix well. Press into prepared pan. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
- Turn slice onto a chopping board; cut into pieces. Spoon combined warm, melted chocolate and oil in a small snap-lock plastic bag. Squeeze chocolate to one corner; twist bag, then snip tip of bag. Drizzle chocolate over top of slice; refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.