Indulgent and decadent, entire kingdoms have been sacrificed for that very last piece of Chocolate Caramel Slice. It’s that good!
To the uninitiated, Chocolate Caramel Slice is a three-tiered wonder with a coconut biscuit base, a rich caramel filling based on condensed milk and golden syrup and melted chocolate on top. When compared to the more traditional sponge cake or scone, Chocolate Caramel Slice is a relative newcomer. I remember Mum arriving home from bridge with the recipe back in the early 80’s like she’d won the proverbial lottery. That recipe must have spread like wild fire and it seems to be a mandatory inclusion for any fundraising cookbook.
These days, although you can buy Chocolate Caramel Slice just about anywhere, in my experience, the bought varieties are usually a serious disappointment. While it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate, they usually leave the coconut out of the base. For me, that coconut is a must which adds to the overall richness and beauty of this decadent slice. Moreover, the caramel filling is often undercooked, pale and insipid… not rich and golden in colour. To my thinking, the caramel layer should also be about double the thickness of the base and more than just a miserly “scrape”. When this slice is made properly and I dare say that requires a good dose of love from the cook, it has a generous slathering of rich, oozy, melt in your mouth and all over your fingers caramel, a luscious chocolate topping and a rich, chewy base infused with coconut. That, as I’ve said, is pure indulgence and something only the strictest of dieters can somehow resist. After all, isn’t there a diet exemption clause for just a little taste of pure indulgence? We can’t be good all of the time!!
You might recall that the focus of our cooking efforts at home is teaching the kids how to cook. I try to make the recipes first myself to work out whether they are suitable to cook with the kids and how to go about it.
To be honest, I don’t really recommend baking Chocolate Caramel Slice with kids and it’s certainly not something they can bake themselves with minimal adult supervision. It involves boiling fats, hot caramel and hot melted chocolate and copha. Children could easily sustain nasty burns. That said, children could do the stirring in the bowl and sifting. However, while there are much more appropriate recipes to bake with kids, our kids love to eat this slice and it’s good to make for them. My kids are very picky about their food, even the sweet treats they’ll eat and this has been a real hit!!
Being so rich, I’ve found that I only need a small piece to satisfy my rather chronically demanding sweet tooth so it’s much better for me than my usual night time treat…hazelnut chocolate. Somehow the block just seems to disappear…
Yet, as much as I love Chocolate Caramel Slice, I would have to classify it as a special, indulgent treat or what children know as a “sometimes food”. It’s full of fat and sugar and given the amount of chocolate and condensed milk involved, it’s more expensive than many alternatives which you’d bake for the kid’s lunchboxes. It is a definite treat but given how little we entertain, a treat can be for the family just as much as for guests. It doesn’t always require a special occasion although you could perhaps make up your own…International Caramel Slice Day, for example. It sounds good to me!
I have called our version of this favourite: “Two-Faced Chocolate Caramel Slice” because our version is half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate. It was quite tricky to execute but it worked and that meant we didn’t need to compromise. Everybody gets what they want but it might make fighting for the last piece, a little bit tricky. Something tells me that the kids’ milk chocolate stash is going to be the first to run out.
Be careful to allow plenty of time to bake the slice. It needs to be chilled in the fridge for at least an hour in between steps 2 and 3 and again for around an hour at the end to set the chocolate. This isn’t something you can rustle up quickly right as your guests are turning up.
The Recipe: Two-Faced Chocolate Caramel Slice
- 2 cups plain flour, sifted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 250g butter, melted
- 2 x 400g can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 tablespoons golden syrup
- 120g butter, melted
- 60g copha, chopped
- 125g cooking chocolate, chopped
- 60g copha
- 125g milk chocolate, chopped.
Turn oven on to 180°C and line a deep 32cm x 23cm lamington tin with baking paper, ensuring that the baking paper comes up the sides of the tin. I always spray a bit of spray oil underneath the baking sheet to hold it in place.
Step 1- Making the Base.
- You can simply make the base in a large mixing bowl using a large stirring spoon. You don’t need to use a food processor at all.
- Sift flour into the mixing bowl.
- Add brown sugar. When measuring the brown sugar, it should be firmly packed. This means you press it down with the spoon. This can make quite a difference to the amount of sugar used.
- Stir with a large wooden spoon or equivalent.
- To melt the butter, place butter inside a small bowl with steep sides (prevents splattering) and put in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter has melted. This may be a job for the supervising adult. Add to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.
- Stir until ingredients are well combined.
- Press base into prepared tin and bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden in colour. Be careful not to overcook the base. It will be baked again with the caramel sauce on top and you don’t want it getting too hard or burned.
- Put the base aside to cool down for 15 minutes. This is about the length of time it takes to make the caramel filling.
Step 2- Caramel Filling
- Combine all ingredients in a medium-large saucepan on moderate heat. Stir for about 8 minutes or until golden in colour and butter has melted.
- Pour over prepared base and spread evenly with a butter knife.
- Bake in a moderate oven for about 8-12 minutes or until firm.
- Refrigerate for about 1-2 hours to set the caramel before adding the chocolate topping.
- The caramel can be made successfully in the microwave but I haven’t tried it.
Step 3-Chocolate Topping.
Perhaps, your family is easy to please and shares the same preference for either milk or dark chocolate.
In that case, place 250g chopped chocolate and 120g chopped copha into a largish heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted. Pour over the caramel. Refrigerate to set. Skip forward to serving instructions.
If your family is like our family where my husband and I both like dark chocolate and the kids refuse to eat dark chocolate and only eat milk, read on. Our kids are so fussy that our son won’t even eat Cocoa Pops!
This means that I often have to choose between using milk or dark chocolate when I bake and that means someone is always a bit disappointed. This usually means going with the milk chocolate because I need something for the kids’ lunchboxes and they need the calories more than Geoff and myself. I hate throwing any food out but throwing away my lovingly prepared home baking, is too much to bear. Quite often, I end up eating it myself but I certainly don’t need an entire, double-strength Chocolate Caramel Slice all to myself. That will undo at least a year’s worth of walking the dog!
Anyway, because this is a double mixture, I decided to make a half n half topping- half dark and half milk chocolate.
Good idea, but getting the chocolate to stay put proved rather tricky.
Directions for Half ‘n Half Chocolate Topping.
- Place the caramel slice onto the bench and find a butter knife and stick that halfway along to act as a barrier or retainer for the chocolate.
- Melt the milk chocolate and Copha first in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool down so it is not so runny. Pour over caramel. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to contain the spread.
- Now melt the dark chocolate and Copha in the same heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. There is no need to wash the bowl in between as the dark chocolate in stronger in flavour.
- Rest the dark chocolate for about 10 minutes again so it is not so runny and is easier to contain. Carefully pour the melted dark chocolate onto the other side of the butter knife and spread to the edges of the tin.
- Refrigerate until chocolate has set.
- Lift the slice out of the tin onto a large chopping board.
- If the slice is too hard, then leave it on the bench for about 30 minutes so it’s easier to cut. Run a large, heavy knife under boiling water. Wipe it dry and press down into the slice and cut into squares, trying not to crack the chocolate.
Confession Time…How it really went!
If you have read any of my previous baking posts, you will know that I am a bit of a “je ne sais quoi” in the kitchen. That’s not to say that I’m a bad cook. I’m actually quite a good cook but things happen. I could excuse myself by saying that I still have chemo brain but there’s always been an element of chaos in me. These organisational “challenges” begin with my “organised enough” pantry and end with me sending Geoff on an urgent sprint mid-cook to hunt down and slay the missing essential ingredient, the modern equivalent of the traditional animal hunt.
While researching for this cooking project, I came across this wonderful French professional cheffing term, or should I say method: “mise en place”. Literally translated, it means “put in place” and refers to having all your ingredients measured and ready to use as the recipe directs. This means transforming my “cook as I go” cooking chaos into something like a TV cooking demonstration. You know what they’re like. They always magically have something “prepared earlier” and all the ingredients are precisely and clinically measured and ready to go. Unfortunately, we don’t have one of those kitchen fairies. Instead, we have the pantry monster who devours ingredients which were clearly left where they belonged in their specific place on the shelf. Of course, we have a place for everything and everything in its place but then the greedy, devouring pantry monster comes along and gobbles it all up when my back’s turned…or it takes great delight in hiding things and shuffling everything around behind my back.
That’s what happened to the coconut while I was baking the Chocolate Caramel Slice. I was sure there was coconut in the pantry somewhere. It’s an ingredient we use quite a lot and I can usually direct my hand through the rubble and locate it immediately. Not so yesterday and rather than pulling everything out performing a serious search and rescue operation, I sent Geoff to the shop on his way home from work. I was spared!
The slice has been a big success. However, not everyone shares my philosophy about the biscuit base (coconut and all) being an essential part of the overall taste experience. Our ten year old son, in typical kid fashion, ate the caramel and chocolate off the top and then called out: “Can I give this to the dog?
No respect! Absolutely no respect!