SHF 6: Chocolate Caramel Slice
These are another very popular addition to Australian bakeries and cafeterias, and very rich and gooey they are too; a crispy, coconutty base, a gooey filling of caramel and a layer of chocolate to cover. I know Caramel Slice is popular in the UK as well, but they tend to use a shortbread biscuit base. In Australia the base we use is usually made with brown sugar and coconut, which makes it a bit more interesting, in my opinion.
I made these in response to an email I sent to A. asking for any favourite caramel recipes. I had immediately thought of an Engadiner Nusstorte (caramel and walnut tart) for this theme...the problem being that I made it for a Sugar High Friday a few months ago (for the nut theme)!! Darn! But, A wrote back and noted that he always loves a good caramel slice (and I can attest to that, having watched him eat an enormous gooey slab of one for breakfast a few weeks back...aiee!), It didn't take long to find a recipe, as I remember my cousin giving me one about 15 years ago; it had been pasted into my childhood recipe book, and despite a few splotches and age spots here and there, her perfect teenage printing was intact. I have no idea where she got it, but it was probably from am Australian Women's Weekly magazine.
I altered the recipe slightly to accomodate adult tastes, and a less-fatty style of cooking. The chocolate layer called for compound cooking chocolate and copha (a vegetable shortening made from coconut, used a lot in Australia). Bleeeachh - no compound chocolate or copha for me thank you - I'm going for deep, bitter, dark chocolate to offset the temple-aching sweetness of the caramel. Additionally, I had run out of Golden Syrup making my chocolate gingerbread a few weeks ago, and only had treacle, so I substituted that, with no problems; it probably just made the caramel even more intensely flavoured. Also, I was lucky to find a tin of skim condensed milk (it uses skim milk rather than full fat), which made the caramel filling far less unhealthy and fatty than it would usually be; combined with cutting down a on the butter called for in the base below, I think I created a lighter version of this rich recipe, which still tasted full fat!
I felt that the filling didn't make quite enough, and would possibly double it next time. What happened was that after baking the filling, a lot of it was absorbed into the base, and after adding the chocolate, it created something that was more 2 layered, rather than 3 layered.
I also made a few mini tart versions of this slice (pictured below) just for an experiment, and these were also extremely successful. I lined a fairy/patty cake tin with the filling, and proceeded the same way as for the slice. It made something that looked a little more elegant and suitable for bringing along to a dinner party (which is exactly what I did with them). I recommend it.
However, these were still receive with great enthusiasm and enjoyment; in fact I don't think I've had such a positive reaction to something I've made....ever. Goes to show really, the simple things can often be the best!
Read on for the recipe:
Chocolate Caramel Slice
Cooking time: 25-30 min and 15-20 min
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
125g melted butter (this can be reduced a lot. Just make sure it's wet enough to line a base easily)
2 tablespoons golden syrup (or treacle)
1 can condensed milk (400g)
125 grams dark chocolate
-Grease a slice tray 17x25 cm, light oven to 180C.
-Prepare base: Sift flour, add sugar and coconut. Melt butter and add to dry ingredients.
-Push into pan and even out, bake in oven until golden brown and set.
-Prepare filling: Melt butter and syrup, add condensed milk.
-Pour over base and cook 15-20 minutes. Cool slice.
-Prepare topping: Melt chocolate and pour over top of slice.
-Refrigerate until set, and cut into fingers.