Rocky road bars: They're in the (gift) bag

Heavenly Hash – YUM!

Rocky Road – MORE YUM!

Wait a minute – what’s the difference?

Hmmm, let me Google this…

And the answer is – not so easy to find.

First of all, instead of the usual 1,765,436 Google results, I only got 42,900.

Now I ask you, how can I possibly find out what I need to know with just 42,900 results?

Well, I’ll have to make do. After reviewing the top 4 or 5 results (hey, I’m busy! The other 42,895 will have to wait until later), here’s what I discovered:

No one can agree on the exact difference between Heavenly Hash ice cream, and Rocky Road ice cream, which is where these terms usually appear: in the freezer case.

Basically, both are chocolate ice cream with marshmallow and almonds. The difference seems to be 1) Heavenly Hash also includes some type of chocolate add-in, and 2) Rocky Road is chunkier: whole nuts, whole globs of marshmallow, where Heavenly Hash is more diced nuts and a marshmallow swirl and chocolate flecks.

Hey, I wouldn’t turn up my spoon at either one.

So, class, what do I name these vanilla shortbread bars topped with chocolate ganache, toasted pecans, and mini marshmallows?

Rocky Road. Though for perfect authenticity, I realize I should have used toasted whole almonds. And made the shortbread chocolate, not vanilla.

There’s always next time…

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or line with parchment and grease the parchment.

Beat together the following:

1 cup (16 tablespoons) salted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt*
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (10 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

*If you use unsalted butter, increase the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.

The dough will seem very dry, and won’t seem to want to become cohesive at first. Just keep beating, and it’ll eventually come together.

Press the dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingers or a mini rolling pin (pastry roller). The dough will feel stiff, but just keep pressing on it until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan.

Prick the dough all over with a fork; this will keep it from bubbling up as it bakes.

Bake the crust for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden brown around the edges and a slightly lighter golden brown on the top. Remove it from the oven, and loosen the edges with a heat-resistant plastic knife or a table knife. Make the topping while the shortbread begins to cool.

Place 3 cups (18 ounces) chopped semisweet or dark chocolate or chocolate chips and 3/4 cup heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan. Heat in the microwave, or over low heat on a burner, until the cream is steaming and barely beginning to form bubbles.

Remove from the heat, and stir. The chocolate will gradually form a lump in the center of the bowl, then will start to expand as it absorbs the cream. Eventually the chocolate and cream will become one; keep stirring until it’s very smooth. If all the chocolate doesn’t seem melted, reheat very briefly, and keep stirring.

Pour the hot chocolate atop the crust.

Spread to the edges, or pretty close – it’ll continue to ooze a bit to cover that last 1/4″ or so of crust.

Sprinkle with 3 cups (half a 10.5-ounce package) mini marshmallows, and 1 cup toasted diced pecans.

How do you toast pecans, you ask?

Spread them in a single layer in a shallow pan, and bake in a preheated 300°F oven (along with the crust, if there’s room) for 10 to 12 minutes or so, or until they smell toasty, and have started to darken a bit in color.

Cover the pan, and place the bars in the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes, to set the chocolate a bit. Using a sharp knife or baker’s bench knife, cut 2″ bars.

Transfer to a serving plate, if desired; or serve right from the pan.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Rocky Road Bars.

Print just the recipe.

Want to wrap these bars up and give them as a gift? Check out our gift bags and tags (pictured at the top of this post).

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. sandspar

    Actually, this is a question. Can I use King Arthur’s gluten-free flour and end up with a gluten-free bar? These look like the perfect bar cookie for Christmas giving.
    We haven’t tried this as a GF recipe, but GF shortbreads are usually pretty easy to do. If you give it a try, we’d love to hear how it goes. ~ MaryJane

  2. mem2387m

    Did you happen to try running the pan under the broiler to melt the marshmallows a bit? I’m looking forward to testing this recipe!
    I don’t remember PJ broiling, but I’ll ask her to pop in and clarify. ~ MaryJane

  3. kristenmariegardiner

    Oh, sweet heaven! I will be making these in the next few weeks. My only question is do you think I can make the oat shortbread found in the KAF Whole Grain Cookbook and still have tasty results? I have never tried that recipe before but I’d like to give it a shot and this recipe looks amazing. Thanks for sharing, PJ!
    Sounds like it should work just fine. I think the oats and chocolate would be a great combo. ~ MaryJane

  4. Kathy in CT

    Perhaps you should have called these “Heavenly Road” or “Road to Heaven” bars. Then you’d have both names and either way, it looks like a “divine” treat!

  5. flybynite

    Mmmmmm, shortbread; my favorite. The rest looks good also. May need to make some of these pretty soon! Thank you for the posts, suggestions, and guidance. Greatly appreciated!

  6. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, RJ, BRAZIL

    I can’t wait to give a try at this recipe with local Brazilian Nuts and Macadamia Nuts, all over a thick layer of authentic Açaí Jam….sounds AMAZING!!!!!!

  7. amajan

    I made these this morning, subbing half the vanilla for my secret Fiori di Sicilia which made the shortbread smell amazing. Then I use my mini torch to toast the marshmallow tops. Such a great recipe! I think I’m going to win the post Thanksgiving leftover potluck tomorrow!

    Ah, the mini torch – genius! I’m totally doing that next time… Thanks, Amajan! PJH

  8. rkaston

    I tried this using KAF Gluten Free flour and added 1/2 + 1/8 t xanthium gum. The shortbread was very crumbly (almost sandy), and while the taste was ok, it was not a solid base for the bars. Any suggestions?

    Sorry to hear of the difficulty. Xanthan requires water for activation. Try reducing the fat a bit then adding enough water to achieve a firm but pliable dough. Good luck with your experiment. Frank @ KAF.

  9. Jennifer

    Would it be possible to substitute anything for the heavy cream? Evaporated milk? I have every single other thing to make these!


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