This is it. A December day.
The signal that the year is drawing to a close, at last.
It's a magical season. Of fairy lights. Of plenty. The joy of holidays, festive cheer and age-old traditions. Yet, this is just a fleeting end. Before the beginning of a new cycle—new hopes, exciting possibilities, reinvigorated dreams. Yes!
It’s been a gorgeous few days here in Doha. Rain, sprinkle, sunshine, with flashes of more rain. The temperature has dropped and there is definitely a chill in the air.
What could be more comforting on a grey drizzly morning than snuggling deeply into the blanket, eyes locked in visions of opulent dream? Imagine cozying up on the couch with a light pashima draped around the shoulder, cuddling a mug of mocha latte lost in thoughts of shoulda-coulda-woulda — I'm much on this kind of thing by the way. Or, giving in to a sudden urge to bake, swaying on to the rhythm of itunes blasting in your ears the while?
There is nothing like the scent of freshly baked treats to get you into the holiday spirit. Yeah, baking. There’s something totally December about baking. Don’t you think?
The rain did it for me. I was in a fantastic mood to bake cookies and melt chocolate. Yep, I got the baking bug, but I was craving something…mm, different. Comforting too.
This classic caramel slice was my answer—there's nothing like these slabs of crumbly shortbread, soft chewy caramel and decadent chocolate, ha. Quite an indulgent treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. I’ve been eyeing the recipe ever since I first bought the Cookies and Macaroon book and flipped through the glossy pages of tempting photographs.
Now, slice is actually a bar cookie. Which simply means it is a cookie usually baked in layers and cut into bars. It originated in Australia and New Zealand, and are more common in these parts of the globe together with Canada.
The chocolate caramel slice has a firm shortbread base, a dulce de leche like caramel filling and a delicate choco topping. Oh boy, it’s a real treat!
These were incredibly fun to photography. I couldn’t take pictures of the ingredients as I baked this a couple of hours before bedtime, leaving it in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The next morning, when I sliced right in, I just couldn’t focus on the ingredients anymore. I got too excited and a bit carried away trying to capture its deliciousness. It happens every time I make a fab sweet treat—I get utterly and completely lost in the desire to click in interesting and inspiring ways. And then since I was too impatient to share this amazing treat with you, I chose to post this recipe instead of something else I had previously planned.
The ingredients here are all pretty basic and you’ll probably have them in you pantry. Now, before I get to the recipe, let me share a few tidbits. While cooking caramel, continuous whisking is necessary to avoid scorching. If you stop stirring, you’ll see these chewy brown bits popping up—not to worry if this happens, just continue whisking. For a moment while the caramel layer was baking in the oven, I thought it was a disaster. I saw it bubbling furiously which made me quite anxious. I'll tell you what, I did not pulling out when this happened. Instead I waited patiently until the end of the specified cooking time and followed instructions to the dot. Result? Simply amazing!
This recipe can be adapted in all sort of ways. I used Belgium dark chocolate—Cote d’or truffe noir—because that’s what I had handy. You could use milk chocolate or dark chocolate, a cookie base instead of a coconut base, fleck the topping with flaky sea salt, or just follow instructions listed here if this is your first time.
Oooh chocolate and caramel, can you smell it? I could have half a tray in one sitting—these are insanely delicious!
So, here I am kick starting this holiday season with an irresistible homemade treat from my kitchen to yours. Bake it, and share it with friends and family. Enjoy!
Chocolate Caramel Slice
(Recipe source: The Australian Women’s Weekly Macroons & Biscuits)
Yields about 24 slice
Prep+cooking time: 45 minutes
½ cup (75g) self-raising flour
½ cup (75g) plain (all purpose) flour
1 cup (80g) desiccated coconut
1 cup (220g) firmly packed light brown sugar
125g (4 ounce) butter, melted
395g (14 ounce) canned sweetened condensed milk
30g (1 ounce) butter, extra
2 tablespoon golden syrup or treacle
185g (6 ounce) dark eating (semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped coarsely
Preheat oven to 1800C/3500F. Grease 20cm x 30cm (8inch x12inch) rectangular pan; line base and long sides with baking paper, extending paper over sides.
To make the crust, combine sifted flours, coconut, sugar and butter in medium bowl. Spread mixture evenly over base of the pan, and press firmly using the back of a measuring cup. Bake about 15 minutes or until browned lightly.
Meanwhile, make caramel filling by combing condensed milk, extra butter and syrup in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat by stirring constantly—don’t walk away from the pan—for about 15 minutes or until caramel mixture is golden brown; pour over base. Bake 10 minutes, cool. Don’t over bake as they become dry and hard as they cool.
Make topping by combining chocolate and oil in small saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth. You could also melt the chocolate in a microwave. Pour warm topping over cold caramel, spread evenly. Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight for the chocolate to harden.
Thaw for a bit and cut carefully with a sharp knife—you don’t want the chocolate to be too hard that it might crack. Score and cut into bars, or any cute shape you fancy. Wipe the knife between cuts. Serve with a tall glass of milk, if you like.
The slice will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or at room temperature for upto to four days.
This is one of the best treat to bake on a cold rainy day. Bake it, enjoy it, and gift a little bundle of affection to the ones you love too. The pleasure of the lovely smile on their face is gift enough for you. Ahh.
Submitting to Susan's Black & White Wednesday, Tickling Palates Let's Cook Baked Goodies, Sinful Delights hosted at Zesty Palette, Bake Fest #2 hosted by Sangee, Sweet Baked at Krithis and Dennys, Cooking Concepts Holiday Baking, Julie's Christmas Delicacy