Ginsberg misses out. My mum’s chocolate slice recipe

If you’ve been to one of my poetry workshops you’ll know that everyone becomes much more creative after a serve of decadent northern European home baking, preferably involving chocolate. By popular demand, here’s the recipe for my mum’s chocolate slice.

Allen Ginsberg, who died before I got around to inviting him, wrote a satirical poem entitled ‘Cmon pigs of Western civilisation, eat more grease’. Hmm. Well, if it worries you, substitute a politically-correct binding ingredient for the melted butter.

Ginsberg might have called this a brownie, but my mum is English. When I was a kid we had slices and biscuits, not brownies and cookies. Cookies existed only on Sesame Street.

Jackson’s mum’s chocolate slice

What it looks like


  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup self-raising flour (I use half wholemeal, half white)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar (use less or more as you prefer. I use brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (find a nice dark organic one)
  • 1 egg


  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Hot water to mix until runny


  • About a tablespoon of dessicated coconut


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Line a slice tray with non-stick baking paper. Let the paper extend a little beyond the tray.
  • Melt the butter.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, coconut, sugar and cocoa.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg.
  • Add the egg and melted butter to the large bowl and mix well.
  • Tip into the tray and press down firmly. (Make a fist and press using the flat surface formed by the middles of your fingers — or if your hands never worked a day and can’t take the heat, use the back of a spoon.)
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

It has to be cut while hot and still soft, and iced immediately so that the icing melts in. Otherwise it’s dry, biscuity and not half as yummy.

  • While the slice bakes, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, and boil the kettle.
  • Use a sharp knife to divide the baked slice into squares or rectangles.
  • Gradually mix hot water into the icing mix, a teaspoonful at a time, until it’s runny.
  • Quickly distribute the icing over the slice and spread it with the back of a spoon. There’s an art to doing this quickly and evenly so it melts in nicely and doesn’t pool in the gaps between the cut squares. (Oh, and you have to spread it right to the edges of the tray. I insist! My mum used to be lazy about that. I considered it grossly unfair when I got a half-dry edge piece and my little brother got a choc-soaked middle piece.)
  • Sprinkle it with coconut.
  • Leave to set. Put it in the fridge or freezer to speed this up.
  • Once it’s set you can grasp the edges of the baking paper and lift the slice in one piece from the tray onto a cutting board. Use a large sharp knife to separate the squares.
  • Hide it well if you want it to last.

This freezes really well and tastes great straight from the freezer.

It occurs to me now that it might be even better with rice bubbles added to the mix. Or chopped hazelnuts, perhaps.

Best served with excellent coffee, although children might prefer a glass of milk.

Confuse your would-be enemies! My apple crumble recipe

In The Legend of Dick and Dom, Mannitol’s evil Nan used her addictive apple crumble to enslave the adventurers (and a giant troll, if I remember rightly).

My crumble may not cause a dependency, but if you feed it to your would-be enemies it’s sure to confuse and disorient them.

Jackson’s apple crumble


  • 800 gram tin bakers apple or 4 or 5 big apples
  • a sprinkle of sugar if the apples are tart


  • 80 grams butter
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour (I use half white half wholemeal, but whatever)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut


  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  • Melt the butter.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the other topping ingredients, then mix in the melted butter.
  • If you’re using fresh apples, peel, core and slice them.
  • Spread the apples into a medium-sized baking dish or pie dish, eg 20cm square or 23cm round.
  • If the apples are tart you might want to sprinkle them with sugar.
  • Spread the topping over the apples and press it down a bit. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on top and smelling YUMMY.

It’s nicest served warm with some kind of dairy blob, like custard, yoghurt or whipped cream. Or icecream if you must.

Rough measurements are OK.


  • Use other fruits. Apple and rhubarb is good but add some sugar!
  • Put a few cloves in with the apples.