Rocky road is no-bake cake that’s served in many Irish cafés and restaurants. It’s a favorite in the United Kingdom also.
Rocky road a sheet pan or tray bake cake, consisting of milk chocolate with marshmallows, broken digestive cookies, and other treats like nuts or chocolate sweets or candies.
I love to make rocky roads with a caramel twist, which can be achieved by adding Rolo candy to the mix and on top of the cake. Another alternative is to use Maltesers, which are just like Whoppers in America.
In today’s recipe I’m going to show you how to make rocky road using added chocolate Rolos with caramel centers to take this favorite Irish treat to a sweet and gooey level of extra deliciousness.
Table of Contents
- A Coffee or Tea Time Favorite
- Origins of Rocky Road Cake
- Difference in Rocky Road Ingredients
- American vs Irish Rocky Road
- The Rocky Road To Dublin
- Ingredients for Caramel Rocky Roads
- Directions for Rolo Rocky Roads
- Printable Recipe
A Coffee or Tea Time Favorite
Cafés all over Ireland sell rocky road slices to accompany the cups of coffee and tea they serve. Those pink and white marshmallows peeping out on the side of a chocolate slice often beckon me. I do admit a rocky road is ever so satisfying with a nice cup of tea.
Grocery stores sell rocky roads in packages with other cakes and bakery items. They’re a sweet tooth satisfying treat all over the Emerald Isle.
Origins of Rocky Road Cake
And so where did rocky road cake originate?
You might think it originated in Ireland because of the traditional song, The Rocky Road to Dublin.
However, the answer lies down under in Australia.
I found the reason for its creation so interesting. It was supposedly invented in Australia way back in the 19th century. The first mention of it is in 1853.
Confectionary was shipped from England to Australia and this journey took many months by sea. Often the confectionery would spoil during the long journey. To use up stocks that would otherwise go to waste, a clever Australian invented rocky road. The iffy chocolate and other sweet treats were mixed with local produce such as nuts and cheaper chocolate to mask the flavors.
The name rocky road was given to the treat since it was sold to gold miners who traveled rocky roads to reach the gold fields of Australia. Or perhaps it was invented in America? California claims to be the the home of the original rocky road ice cream.
Difference in Rocky Road Ingredients
In Australia the main ingredients for rocky road are glacé cherries, milk chocolate, shredded coconut, peanuts and marshmallows.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland the ingredients tend to be digestive biscuits, chocolate, marshmallows, and sometimes rice cereal and dried fruit.
I reserve dried fruit for tiffin cake which is very similar to rocky road, but is made without marshmallows. Tiffin is a chocolate biscuit cake with raisins. Dried fruit tends to be replaced with candies more and more when making rocky road. Rolos are the candy of choice for this recipe.
In the United States rocky road cake was traditionally made with chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts or almonds, since it may have been primarily made in California.
American vs Irish Rocky Road
I know when the term rocky road is used in America, ice cream comes to mind straight away, rather than the cake.
Rocky road ice cream is usually chocolate flavored, and contains marshmallows, and/or nuts and cookie bits depending on the brand.
It’s a similar theme to rocky road cake, but I’ve always found the ice cream version is far more popular in America than the cake.
However, it sounds to me as if the cake inspired the ice cream flavor.
Please, let us know in the comments section if you make rocky road cake in America. Or if you have an old recipe from years gone by that links this cake style to traditional American fare.
The Rocky Road To Dublin
For Irish people the term rocky road, brings to mind a beloved Irish folk song known as ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin.”
It tells of a young man who leaves the town of Tuam in County Galway, and makes his way to Dublin along the rocky road.
He sings and rattles along the rocky road to Dublin wearing a brand new pair of brogues.
But Dublin is not too kind to him, and he leaves for Liverpool where he gets into a shillelagh scuffle with the locals, and finally is rescued by fellow Galway men who clear his way back to the rocky road to Dublin.
Here’s the chorus of this old song:
One, two, three four, five
Hunt the Hare and turn her down the rocky road
All the way to Dublin, Whack follol de rah!
The lyrics were written by Galway poet, D K Gavan, for the English music hall singer Harry Clifton in the mid 19th century. The song was made famous in the 20th century by the Irish folk group, The Dubliners.
I think this may be the only corner of the internet where you get served up recipes with stories of old Irish folk songs. Thanks for bearing with my ramblings.
And on to our recipe..
Enough of my rocky road banter, and let’s get on to sharing the recipe.
Have I whet your appetite for a slice of rocky road?
You’ll find a printable recipe at the bottom of this post.
Ingredients for Caramel Rocky Roads
Here you’ll find a quick list of what you’ll need for this recipe. Check out the printable recipe at the bottom of this post for US and Metric equivalent versions of the recipe. There you can choose the measurement system that works best for you.
- milk chocolate
- dark chocolate
- golden syrup or King golden syrup in the US
- unsalted butter
- mini marshmallows
- digestive biscuits or graham crackers in the US
Directions for Rolo Rocky Roads
Here you’ll find step-by-step photographic instructions to help you recreate this recipe successfully. There are plenty of tips included along the way.
Prepare The Baking Pan
Grease and line a 9” square baking tin with parchment paper. You can use plastic wrap if you prefer since this cake doesn’t get put into the oven. It’s a no bake cake that goes down a treat in my house.
Melt the Chocolate
Break the milk and dark chocolate into squares and microwave in 30 second bursts until completely melted.
You can use chocolate chips if you wish. A good chocolate yields a tastier cake, so feel free to using premium chocolate bars.
I tend to use more milk chocolate than dark chocolate, but the combination is up to you depending upon how sweet you like your cake to be. More milk chocolate yields a sweeter cake.
Set the chocolate aside to cool.
Melt the butter and golden syrup
Cut the butter into chunks and add to a saucepan with the golden syrup. Melt together over a low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
English style golden syrup is sold in many US grocery stores, but if you can’t find the English version you can use King’s syrup.
Corn syrup will work too, but it doesn’t yield the rich caramel tones and taste of golden syrup.
Combine the dry ingredients
Whizz up the digestive biscuits or graham crackers in a food processor until broken down into crumbs.
You can break the cookies into pieces if you prefer. Their purpose is to add bulk to the cake. In this version I whizz the cookies or crackers into crumbs since I like the marshmallows and rolos to be the highlight when you bite into a slice. This distinguishes rocky roads from chocolate biscuit cake.
Transfer the crushed biscuits into a large mixing bowl. Add the mini marshmallows and three quarters of the Rolos.
Mix together with a large spoon.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry
Pour in the melted butter/syrup mixture, followed by the melted chocolate. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tin and make sure it’s spread out evenly.
Refrigerate, not bake this cake
Push the remaining Rolos onto the top.
Refrigerate until completely set which takes about 4 to 5 hours.
Slice into squares to serve
Remove the cake from the tin and peel off the parchment paper or plastic wrap. Slice it into 16 squares.
Store your rocky roads in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep well for up to a week.
In our house it’s lucky to last more than a day.
Here’s the printable recipe if you’d like to keep this one in your kitchen files.
Rolo Rocky Road
- 11 ounces milk chocolate
- 7 ounces dark chocolate
- 5 tablespoons golden syrup
- 4 ounces butter unsalted
- 2⅓ cups mini marshmallows
- 8 ounces graham crackers or digestive biscuits
- 14 ounces rolo
- Grease and line a 9” square baking tin.
- Break the milk and dark chocolate into squares and microwave in 30 second bursts until completely melted. Set aside to cool.
- Cut the butter into chunks and add to a saucepan with the golden syrup. Melt together over a low heat. Set aside to cool.
- Whizz up the digestive biscuits/graham crackers in a food processor until broken down into crumbs.
- Transfer the crushed biscuits into a large mixing bowl. Add the mini marshmallows and three quarters of the rolos. Mix together with a spoon.
- Pour in the melted butter/syrup mixture, followed by the melted chocolate. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tin and make sure it’s spread out evenly. Push the remaining rolos onto the top. Refrigerate until completely set – about 4-5 hours.
- Slice into 16 squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep well for up to a week.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
If you’re a fan of no-bake desserts why not check out some of my other favorite sweet treats that are easy to make…
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad –Irish American Mom
Pronunciation – slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad – rhymes with parade
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