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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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  • Oh my god, that is evil!! Will I gain weight reading this?

    By Blogger JuniperSky, at 3/03/2006 01:36:00 pm  

  • Caramel, hazelnut and chocolate! It couldn't get any better!

    I am sooo making this one. The photo is so very droolworthy and all power to the full-bodied rustic chocolate approach!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/03/2006 10:31:00 pm  

  • Oh wauw! These sound divine Niki! I've been looking for something using condensed milk where you didn't have to make it into dulce de leche first - gotta try this one!

    By Blogger Cerebrum, at 3/03/2006 11:07:00 pm  

  • these look sooooo good ! why I'm on a diet !?!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3/03/2006 11:28:00 pm  

  • You're really getting back in your stride again!

    By Blogger Owen, at 3/04/2006 02:39:00 am  

  • This is a great book for bars.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/04/2006 05:06:00 am  

  • This does look terfic Niki.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/04/2006 09:36:00 am  

  • Oh my gosh those look good! I love chocolate and hazelnuts!

    Isn't a slice the same as a bar cookie? We've certainly got oodles of bar cookies here.

    By Blogger Cathy, at 3/04/2006 10:24:00 am  

  • fantastic looking. great idea for party finger food.

    By Blogger cin, at 3/04/2006 04:07:00 pm  

  • Oh that looks like such a good mouthful. Yuuum. The freezing aspect is very handy too.

    By Blogger plum, at 3/04/2006 05:21:00 pm  

  • these look so very tasty. i'd love to make them with a biscuit base in chocolate too. i will check the original article to get some tips on slices... how do you keep yours so perfectly square...?

    By Blogger deborah, at 3/04/2006 11:38:00 pm  

  • Oh Lord, I think I just had a religious experience ... am salivating so badly I need a bib.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 3/05/2006 01:28:00 am  

  • My god.

    I am soooo making this. Matt will love it, and take it to work, which will cement my position as baking goddess with the co-workers.

    Niki...it looks fabulous!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 3/07/2006 05:54:00 am  

  • Well, well, these certainly were popular! Thanks for your comments everyone. Yes, they do look pretty good, and man, they taste great!

    Cathy - I think a slice is similar to a bar cookie, but the point the article makes is that bar cookies tend to be brownies which deserve a category of their own. However, after seeing Maida's book, I disagree with that. I think slices are pretty equivalent, but usually not quite as rich (well...usually!)

    Saffron - They're quite neat because I cut them while they were still a bit frozen. It's the easiest way to keep everything neat (especially things with gooey toppings)

    By Blogger Niki, at 3/07/2006 07:47:00 pm  

  • hmmmm. chocolate.....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/08/2006 01:38:00 am  

  • These look delicious, Niki! Another recipe to try..

    By Blogger Pille, at 3/08/2006 09:38:00 pm  

  • oh, oh, oh, now i know exactly WHAT I will be doing over the next few weeks. come the weekend, i will be waiting for the family to run some errands (which i imaginatively selected just for them) which will keep them out of the house for the better part of the day, quickly prepare this delicious cake and gobble it ALL down while still warm. Greed can be good on occasions.
    Then I'll spend the rest of the month chastising myself desparately in an attempt to lose the weight i put on for 10 minutes of pleasure ;-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/22/2006 10:12:00 am  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/09/2008 01:03:00 am  

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