Another birthday, another reason to design a new dessert recipe! Alex organised his party this year around a distinctly 1940s theme, so I thought I’d adapt something that was launched around the same time – the Wagon Wheel biscuit… one of his favourite snacks! The original marshmallow and jam sandwiched between two thin shortbread biscuits becomes a layered delight beginning with a brown butter biscuit base spread with a thin veneer of raspberry jam, smothered with a layer of fluffy marshmallow, and topped off with swirl of dark chocolate.

Although I found a recipe for this slice on-line, it called for store-bought marshmallows, which troubled me somewhat. I wanted to make my own (how hard could it be?), and therefore dug out an old cookbook I’ve had for roughly 20 years now. Published as a fundraiser for a campsite where I used to work, all the recipes are tried and true. One of my favourite fish dishes comes from it, as does my Dad’s signature boiled fruit cake. They included a marshmallow biscuit slice, and I’ve adapted both the base and the marshmallow for this luscious Wagon Wheel Slice.

Because I wanted the option of browning the butter for the base, I’ve gone with melting it instead of creaming the butter with the sugar this time. It yields a nutty, buttery, shortbread-like biscuit, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The raspberry jam was store-bought, of course, but the marshmallow – so easy to make your own – is a whipped confection made with gelatine and lots and lots of sugar. As for that final layer, I chose to use regular dark chocolate; but go with whatever suits your fancy – 70% dark or milk chocolate – it’s up to you!

For a vegan version, try my Cruelty-free Marshmallow (Wagon Wheel) Slice!

Wagon Wheel Slice
Layers upon layers of sweet goodness; first the shortbread, then the jam, marshmallow and chocolate. Party food doesn’t get much better than this!

Adapted from the El Shaddai cookbook and

Makes 24 pieces

For the base:
60 g (¼ cup + 1 tablespoon) butter or margarine, melted
75 g (1/3 cup) caster (super-fine) sugar
1 egg, beaten*
165 g (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) plain flour**
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt

1/3 cup raspberry jam

For the marshmallow:
2 level tablespoons gelatine powder
250 ml (1 cup) water
225 g (1 cup) caster (super-fine) sugar
125 g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

185 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used dark choc chips)
50 g butter

Preheat oven to 180°C/350F. Grease a 3cm-deep, 16cm x 26cm slice pan or a 23cm (9-inch) square cake tin. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 2cm from edge on long sides.

Melt butter (NB. This is your chance to brown the butter, but this is totally optional). In a heavy-based saucepan, melt butter slowly, then when completely liquid, raise heat and allow to froth, stirring constantly. As froth subsides, butter will begin to stick to pan, creating a brownish substance on the surface of the pan. This is good. The butter should now have a nutty aroma. Once the butter has browned, take off heat immediately, before it burns. Set aside to cool slightly.

Add sugar and egg and mix well. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt and stir until dough comes together. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Spread warm base with jam.

Meanwhile, add 1 cup of cold water to a medium saucepan and sprinkle surface of water with gelatine powder. Allow to sit untouched for at least 10 minutes to allow gelatine to soak (dissolve). Once gelatine is properly soaked, whisk in with a fork. Add 1 cup caster sugar to gelatine mixture and dissolve gently over low heat, then raise heat and boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature and then add 1 cup of sifted icing sugar.

In a large, deep bowl, beat with an electric mixer until thick and white (should take about 3 to 5 minutes). Add vanilla extract, and beat until well combined. Spoon ½ to ¾ marshmallow mixture over jam layer and place in refrigerator to set. Lightly grease a plastic container with oil and spoon any extra marshmallow into it. Store in refrigerator until you need a snack!

Place the chocolate and butter in a small, clean, dry heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water over low heat (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Use a dry metal spoon to stir gently for 2 minutes or until chocolate melts and is smooth. Pour evenly over marshmallow layer and smooth the surface with a knife.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving.

*To make this slice egg-free, increase the butter in the base to 75g.
**To make this slice gluten-free, use 150g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) gluten-free flour plus 50g (1/2 cup) almond meal (almond flour).

49 thoughts on “Wagon Wheel Slice”

  1. Sounds Yummy! I do think it’s funny that I’d never consider using store bought jam it’s homemade all the way at number 29, but the thought of attempting home made marshmallow wouldn’t occur to me in a million years! Gonna try it! Thanks.

    1. Hi Ruth, thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, it is rather funny how different cooks approach recipes from rather different perspectives!… Raspberries are in fairly short supply around here… which is why I wouldn’t consider making jam. 😉

  2. I made this today and it is all gone! Great recipe. The only thing I found is that when making the marshmallow, I had to ask the gelatin/sugar mix for about 10mins to get a nice stiffness….and it made double the amount I actually needed. I also used vanilla extract, not essence…suggest half teaspoon only. I liked the idea of browning the butter, the base tasted quite nice. Thanks!

    1. Hi Helena, I’m really glad you tried the recipe and that it was enjoyed! Yes, the marshmallow does make more than needed… see note at the bottom of the instructions. As for how long it took to whisk, the time I gave was for an electric mixer, but as long as it all tasted great in the end!! Thanks for your feedback! 😉

  3. I made this and it is deadly!!!!! Took it to work and it disappeared ! I am making this again, twice in a week, for a birthday!!

    1. Hi Lara, I’ve not had to experiment with egg-free cooking yet, but I believe if you mix crushed chia seeds in water, that works as a good egg replacement. If you google ‘chia seeds as egg replacer’, the internet should be able to help you there! There are also products in the health food aisle of your local supermarket. Thanks for the question! 😉

  4. I’ve made this 3 times now & each time it has turned out beautifully. So easy & everyone loves it!! Closest thing to a home made wagon wheel. Great recipe 🙂

  5. I made this in to a gluten free version as some of my family members need gf. I substituted the same amount of plain flour with gf corn flour and added half a cup of almond meal. Everyone loved it! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  6. I’ve been making a similar cake for years. My children call it ‘Dad’s Pink Cake’ and there was always a fight to find where I’d hidden it just for him! I think it should be ‘Eve’s Cake’ as someone is always tempting the other to have a piece!!
    Marshmellow can be just as good with plain sugar….you just need to make sure it is dissolved properly before bringing to boil. I colour the marshmellow pink, obviously!

  7. Hi I will be making these for my grandkids as they love wagon wheels, I would love the recipe for the boiled fruit cake as it was my biggest regret not getting it of my mother who now has Alzheimer’s.

  8. I can’t wait to try your Wagon Wheel recipe and I also would love to see your dad’s Boiled Fruitcake recipe I haven’t made a fruitcake in years because I lost my knack to making a moist one. Many thanks for sharing all the deliciousness : ) Carolyn

  9. Hi! I am wanting to make this for my fiancé for Christmas as wagon wheels are his favourite. If I was to use store bought marshmallows, how much would i use? Do I just melt them? I’m so excited to try it, thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  10. Hi Monique, gelatin/gelatine is a powder that you can use to make jelly/jello and marshmallows. Find it in the baking aisle of your local supermarket. Hope that helps!

  11. Hi – I want to make this for a weekend away with friends.
    How long will it keep for (ie how many days in advance can I make it)?

  12. Hello,
    I have been a lover of wagon wheels since a child, and would love to make this version.
    I only work in grams rather than cups, as there is such variation in cup measures.
    I need to make it GF so is there any chance of getting a weight for 1 cup of GF flour and a 1/2 cup of almond meal?
    Also what do you do with all the extra marshmallow?
    Many thanks,
    Angela (from Brisbane).

    1. Hi Angela, I can provide gram measures for you… just give me a day or two. 🙂 The extra marshmallow I tend to pour into a lightly greased plastic container and eat separately, or add to hot chocolate.

    2. Recipe has now been updated with weight measurements. For the marshmallow, probably 1/2 the recipe would be sufficient, but I find it easier to beat with more in the bowl! Good luck.x

  13. I am absolutely amazed at how how quickly you responded! Thank you. I am very appreciative.
    I am a little confused as to the recipe having 165 grams Plain flour but when GF there is 150 grams GF flour + 50 grams almond meal. I have read that when converting to GF it is good to reduce GF flour by 1/4 due to its drying nature. I have also read that GF flour doesn’t incorporate better well…is this the reason for the increased ingredients?
    I also plan to make the slice DF as well, and use coconut oil….would the quantity of GF flour and almond meal be the same? Would I still add 60 grams of coconut oil?
    I am sorry for so many questions but we are having guests for the weekend who choose to eat GF & DF so want to do this lovely slice justice!
    Thanks again,

    1. Hello again! I have found with GF flours that you need to use more as it is quite ‘thirsty’, which would explain why there seems to be so much more GF flour! Yes, you can use Nuttelex or coconut oil instead of butter. Use the same amount of GF flours, but go easy on the coconut oil, as it tends to make everything very greasy. Good luck!

Leave a Reply