Earlier this week, I announced my plan to prepare the Licorice Allsorts Slice. I’d never previously seen this dessert, but 1) the accompanying photo was so pretty! and 2) I lovelovelove licorice, so I threw better judgment to the wind and whipped up a sample batch. The result served as a reminder of why precision is necessary in recipes, and also that one should trust one’s gut if one secretly believes that a dessert (no matter how glamorized the photo is) is really a gussied up, Australian version of Rice Krispie treats.
Saturday morning, Hook and I went to the grocery store to pick up the necessary ingredients. The recipe calls for “plain sweet biscuits” to be used as the slice’s base. Plain, sweet biscuits? No problem! I planned to use some sort of butter cookies, but the store had none. (Dual-colored Oreos were in stock, however.) Plan B was shortbread. Here I hesitated, knowing that the shortbreads might be too crumbly and soft to form a substantial base, but I bought them, anyway.
Of the three stores Hook and I visited (one supermarket and two corner stores), none had Licorice Allsorts. This was no surprise. When I get Allsorts, I purchase them either from the Wonderful Foods Co. (best candy store in the Outer Sunset!) or, more rarely, from Bristol Farms. In this neck of the woods — unlike in Australia, I’d presume — Allsorts are not a staple of the snack aisle. So I compromised, buying a licorice mix that included red and black licorice nibs in addition to a brand-x version of Good and Plentys. (Note: I’ve bought this mix many times before and can attest to its tastiness and quality. Note note: the Allsorts Slice recipe actually mentioned that other candies could be subbed in for the Allsorts, so in using the alternate licorice variety, I wasn’t totally butchering the recipe.)
The recipe recommended that the cookies be broken down in a food processor, so I ground the called-for amount in my tiny Cuisinart. As I’d predicted, the shortbreads turned to a sandy mush. To compensate for this potentially fatal breach of the Slice’s structural integrity, I hand-crushed a few additional cookies and added them to the mix, hoping that the larger chunks would solidify the dessert’s base.
The rest of the prep went smoothly. I melted together the butter and sweetened, condensed milk (mothers and People Who Like to Fit Into Their Pants, read no further) and combined this mixture with the “biscuit rubble” and candy. I pressed the sugary concrete into a pan and, while the Slice formed, I melted chocolate in an improvised double boiler. I poured the melted chocolate over the slice, leveling it with a spatula. Finally, I slid the Slice into the freezer to harden.
How, then, was the result? Not bad. Predictably tooth-rotting, but sweet and buttery, with the consistency of fudge. The combination of shortbread and chocolate is one of my favorites; the integration of licorice didn’t add much to the dish. That is, the licorice bits got lost in the shortbread/condensed milk “batter,” and the flavors of the chocolate and the shortbread dominated. I won’t likely be making the Licorice Allsorts Slice in the near future, but in the event of a Throwback Potluck or another Grey Gardens party, I’ll consider it among my other gelatin-and-sugar-heavy options.