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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, March 03, 2006

Caramel hazelnut chocolate slice

Now, this one's a doozy. Caramel, chocolate, hazelnuts....all the stuff that is good. I made this for the supper we provided after the Danes' concert a few weeks ago. Actually, I made it in advance and froze it, knowing I'd be pretty busy around that time.
Last year the Epicure section of The Age had a feature on slices, starting off with an excellent article about what they are, tips on making them and some good recipes to try. Apparently slices are the quintessential old-fashioned and proud Australian baked sweet, and don't make appearances outside Australian cookbooks. Now that I didn't know! A few weeks later, after hundreds of readers wrote in with their own favourite slice recipes, a follow-up article appeared. This gooey, chocolatey slice is from that second article - and it has the most gorgeous photograph, which is what tempted me to try it.

I didn't have macadamia nuts, which I admit would have made it even more Australian themed, so I used lots of hazelnuts and some pecans. I reckon any nuts would work; you just want a nutty topping. Also, I used skim condensed milk instead of the full fat stuff, which didn't cause any problems. As I said, I made these in advance and froze them. On the day I mixed up the chocolate drizzle topping and waved a spoon crazily and erratically about. My chocolate topping I mixed with a little butter to bulk it out, and make it a bit runnier so I could attempt some classy drizzling effects. My drizzles aren't as sparingly elegant as the photo in the article; I had the more full-bodied, rustic-daaahling approach but, hmmm, I don't think they were so bad. :-)

Surprisingly, this slice isn't too sweet or over-the-top, but yes, it is rich. It helped that I cut it into quite small little bite sized squares. I used a bitter dark chocolate in both the base and the drizzling, which helped with keeping the sweetness to sophisticated adult levels. I was pretty chuffed when half-way through the supper some random elderly Danish woman decided to pick up my platter and work the room, personally encouraging guests to try them. I laughed when she came up to me (I'd sampled more than enough bits when I was cutting them. Cos you know, there were lots of *cough* bodgy bits that I just couldn't serve to the public....*ahem*) and told her I made them. I think I had a fan! But I agree, they did look pretty impressive, and tasted damn good.
Read on for the recipe:

Robyn's caramel, macadamia and hazelnut slice
from The Age Epicure, August 9 2005.

Apparently this is a very forgiving recipe. The first time the tester made it he forgot the egg and overcooked the topping, and yet it was still delicious.


150g (1 cup) plain flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
60g (1/2 cup) hazelnut meal *
90g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
90g dark chocolate
80g unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten


100g hazelnuts
395g tin condensed milk (skim is ok)
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g butter
100g macadamia nuts
100g dark chocolate, melted

(optional: ~20g butter)


· To make the base: Sift flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Stir in hazelnut meal and sugar.

· Melt chocolate and butter together and cool. Add to dry ingredients when cooled. Add egg and mix well.

· Press mixture into lined and greased tin (a standard 18x28- centimetre tray or similar) and bake for 15 minutes at 180C.

· While the slice is baking, toast hazelnuts in the oven for eight minutes. Remove and de-skin by placing in a brown paper bag and rubbing furiously.

- Remove base from oven. Have a cup of tea and bit of a sit with the paper while it cools to room temperature in the tin.

· To make the topping: Mix condensed milk, golden syrup and butter in saucepan and heat, stirring until it almost boils.

· Pour mixture over the base and top with nuts.Bake for 15 minutes and leave to cool.

· Drizzle lines of the melted chocolate (mixed with butter if used) over the top until covered with a lacy coating of chocolate.Cut with a bread knife.

*I think any type of ground nuts would be ok. Ground almonds would be fine. I think it would also be ok with more flour making up the amount of ground nuts, if you didn't want to use them at all. Also, I think wholemeal flour would work well in this base.

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