Friday, October 4, 2013

Is eating five pieces of caramel slice a bad thing?

I had no intention of blogging about caramel slice when I made it for a family get-together yesterday. I've made it plenty of times before, after all - I've broken away from my self-imposed edict of trying new things for the past few weeks - and there are plenty of outstanding caramel slice recipes out there, not least of which is Larissa's extraordinary caramel slice.
For all that yesterday's caramel slice went over a treat - I ate two pieces and I'm pretty sure my sister-in-law ate four (hi Amanda!) - I wasn't really happy with it. I was in a bit of a hurry and forgot to sprinkle some salt over it, which of course makes all the difference to sweet dishes, and I felt I'd undercooked the base slightly, leaving it lacking in crunch.
Then lying in bed after the get-together, I had a brainwave: since I'm melting butter for the base anyway, why not take it a step further and make brown butter for that extra depth of flavour? And, while we're increasing the nutty flavour, why not toast the coconut before mixing it into the base?
Fired with enthusiasm, I revised how to brown butter and dived into caramel slice for the second day in a row. It's a hard life, but someone's got to do it, right? And the added depth of flavour that came from the toasted coconut and brown butter made it worth the extra few steps in the method. I ate three pieces just to be sure!

Caramel slice

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter

Caramel filling
395g can condensed milk
20g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
Pinch salt

150g dark chocolate
Optional: Peanuts

Preheat oven to 180C. Place coconut in a slice pan and toast for a few minutes - when the kitchen smells like a Bounty bar, pull it out of the oven, give it a stir and then return it to the oven until lightly brown. Place toasted coconut in a bowl and then wipe out the slice pan and grease and line it with baking paper.
Sift flour into the bowl with the coconut and stir together with the sugar. Brown the butter and pour the bronzed liquid into the dry ingredients, then mix well. Press into the base of the slice pan and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool while you make the filling.
Combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring the whole time - for about 8-9 minutes or until lightly caramelised. The mix will thicken and have a distinct caramel taste when it's ready.
Pour the caramel over the base, smooth it with a spatula and sprinkle the salt over, then bake for 10 minutes. Let it cool again before melting the chocolate, pouring it evenly over the slice and smoothing with a spatula. If you're using the peanuts, sprinkle them evenly over the chocolate (or under the chocolate, if you prefer).
Put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to set before attacking, or using a hot, dry knife to cut it into slices if you're going to be civilised.