I'm not normally a fan of caramel slice. Occasionally i get tempted at a cafe, and buy a bit to have with my coffee, and always end up regretting it. Super sweet and bland is how i would describe most caramel slices. But my friend Pru made some and gave me a slice when i was visiting a while back and it was SO GOOD! Coconut in the base, walnuts in the topping, and really dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids) were what made the difference. It is still very sweet, there's no getting around that, but the coconut and walnuts give it a nuttiness that sets it apart from your regular caramel slice, and the use of really dark chocolate helps cut the sweet factor a little. Still, you only need a small bit with your cup of tea or coffee, which is another good thing about it - a little goes a long way. The slice also freezes really well, so usually when i make a batch i keep half of it in the fridge for general consumption and put half in the freezer, as 'back up' for the rare occasion when the baking tins are empty and i just don't feel like baking (extremely rare, but it does happen from time to time!). Pru says the recipe came from 'The NZ Family Circle Cookbook', but the addition of the walnuts is her own touch. The specification that the chocolate must be 72% cocoa solids is mine.
I've also changed the ratio of ingredients in the caramel slightly - mostly because the original recipe made a really small batch of slice, so i increased the ingredients by 50%, except for the condensed milk, as a can and a half of condensed milk just seemed excessive. Not to mention the annoyance factor of having to find something to do with the remaining half tin of condensed milk.
PRU'S NUTTY CARAMEL SLICE
Adapted from 'The New Zealand Family Circle Cookbook'
1.5 cups plain flour
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
180 g butter, melted
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
400 g tin condensed milk
180 g dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids)
90 g butter
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Mix flour, coconut and sugar in a bowl. Pour the melted butter over and mix in. Gently press into a tin (approx 22 x 25 cm) lined with baking paper. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and stir in the golden syrup and condensed milk. Cook over a low heat, stirring until just combined. Pour over the still warm cooked base and return to the oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden or slightly darker (Pru notes that 'a bit darker has a better caramel flavour'). Leave to get cold.
Melt chocolate and butter over a bowl of hot water. Stir in half the toasted chopped walnuts. Spread over the caramel, sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and refrigerate.
Remember a little goes a long way when cutting your slices!