Tag Archives: caramel

Chocolicious Chocolate!

Throw out your copy of: How to Win Friends & Influence People. If you want to be popular, the answer is chocolate. Not just any ordinary, garden-variety chocolate but the good stuff. The stuff that is so good, that it’s literally evil.

After all, as my husband explained:

“Life is too short to waste it eating mediocre chocolate.”

While definitions of such superlative chocolicious indulgences can be quite subjective, I’m yet to find someone who doesn’t fall head-over-heels in love with Australia’s Tim Tam Biscuit. All rules of social restraint and decorum go out the window where Tim Tams are concerned. Even the most disciplined health nuts have confessed to inhaling an entire packet of Tim Tams and it’s pretty much a given that  once you open the packet, they’ll all be gone in the blink of an eye. Tim Tams are so good that there was even an advertising campaign showing why a Tim Tam is better than a man.

Simply Irresistible Tim Tams

Simply Irresistible Tim Tams

The Tim Tam is so popular that a sacred ritual has evolved: “The Tim Tam Explosion” or “The Tim Tam Slam” although when I was at university, it was known as “The Tim Tam Suck”. These all describe the same scrumptious and daring ritual where you bite off opposite corners of a Tim Tam and dunk one corner in a hot cup of tea or coffee and suck it like a straw. The drink fills the biscuit and it metamorphoses into a sloppy, delicious mass, which you can hopefully get into your mouth before it disintegrates and falls in your drink. Of course, the chocolate coating melts all over your fingers so this is definitely not the done thing around “polite society”. It’s probably, not recommended on a first date, either!!

However, when it comes to chocolate, there are those special occasions when Lindt is in order and Lindt Balls have a special place in our hearts. Geoff and I took them bushwalking for our first Valentine’s Day together. Being a scorchingly hot, Sydney Summer’s Day, the Lindt Balls were liquid and have been known ever since as “Lindt Smears”. Therefore, indulging in Lindt Smears is rather hazardous during a Summer and you’re lucky if you can get the wrapper off before it disintegrates and implodes. I must admit that I do enjoy a gooey Lindt Ball but there’s a fine line. You can get a lot of heartbreaking wastage as the chocolate merges with the wrapper.

Who can argue with Snoopy?

Who can argue with Snoopy?

Another favourite chocolate indulgence, is a Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. I first discovered these when I was backpacking through Europe back in 1992 and ordered a Heiss Schockolade mit Sahne in Koln (Cologne). Wow!! Since then, I have found what I believe to be the world’s very best Hot Chocolate located at the Perisher resort where we go skiing. Their Toblerone Hot Chocolate comes with snowman with three marshmallows on a stick which you dunk into the hot, creamy hot chocolate. There’s also a stick of Toblerone and a cigar biscuit. Just amazing.

Sumptuous Chocolate Soup

Sumptuous Chocolate Soup

Recently, I found a scrumptious chocolate cake which was almost drowning in chocolate soup. That reminded me of the wonders of chocolate sauce. You can read about it here:


Being a keen baker, I have also made quite a few chocolate treats and I encourage you to have a go. In our household, we had a tension between the kids who prefer milk chocolate and the adults who prefer dark and so now I tend to make half of each to keep everybody happy.

Here are some indulgent chocolate recipes for you to try:

Yummy Chocolate Cupcakes.

Yummy Chocolate Cupcakes.

Easy-Peasy Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache:


White Chocolate Rocky Road:


Flourless Nutella Cake:


Two-Faced Chocolate Caramel Slice (milk and dark chocolate):


Chocolate Hazelnut Indulgence Cake:


After writing about all that yummy, scrumptious chocolate, my mouth is watering and I’m seriously considering breaking into our stash of Easter eggs. Something tells me, resistance is futile and as any true chocoholic will confess, when you eat your eggs quickly you can always poach the slow poke’s bulging stash.

However, if you are more more virtuous than I and can get through the entire Easter season without even a nibble of chocolate, perhaps you like to read about it instead and should get hold of: Chocolat by Joanne Harris…or even the movie http://www.joanne-harris.co.uk/books/chocolat/.

A great Easter read and also a fabulous movie, which will leave you craving for artisan chocolate and a trip to France.

A great Easter read and also a fabulous movie, which will leave you craving for artisan chocolate and a trip to France.

Easter always seems to bring rain on Australia’s East Coast, at least, and so it’s a great time to curl up with a book, a movie and eat chocolate:

“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare…neither knew chocolate.”
― Sandra Boynton

If you are participating in the A-Z Challenge, what was your C and feel free to provide a link and share your topic.

Love & chocolate moustaches,


Laugh or Cry: Overcoming Birthday Caketastrophes!

Tomorrow, is our son’s 11th Birthday and of course, it’s going to be bigger than Ben Hur.

Surprise! Surprise! I decided to bake a Chocolate Cake and I’m jazzing it up with a caramel and whipped cream filling and smothering the lot with lashings of Milk Chocolate Ganache and a sprinkling of M & Ms. I know that sounds really indulgent,even decadent, but you only have a birthday once a year!

Chocolate cake…You can’t go wrong with chocolate cake.

The meaning of life can be found in Mummy's bowl.

The meaning of life can be found in Mummy’s bowl.

However, you obviously haven’t heard about my luck with making birthday cakes. It’s so bad that I’ve dubbed it: “The Great Birthday Cake Curse”!! For some strange reason, every single birthday cake I’ve ever made has been cursed, doomed, even double-doomed, as all sorts of dreadful complications set in.

Yet, with the precision of a surgeon, I painstakingly restore the cake and save the day.

Hey, who am I kidding?

There’s nothing precise about me in the kitchen. Rather, I’m very “slap dash”, whacking on the icing to camouflage near-fatal, structural craters, which are so deep that you could hide a semi-trailer inside…even an entire road train!!

Yet, despite these devastating catastrophes, I overcame the hurdles and had that cake out on the plate, candles alight with everybody singing “Happy Birthday”.

My husband’s uncle, who was a builder, always used to say that the difference between an amateur and a professional is being able to cover up their mistakes. Looking at how I’ve patched up my cakes, I can’t help wondering how many houses down in NE Tasmania are being held together by lumps of icing? It’s one of the world’s greatest gap fillers!!

Despite my birthday caketastrophes, I’m renowned for my scrumptious pavlovas and choc-chip cookies. Indeed,  when I took my choc chip cookies to scouts recently, I was quite the pied piper attracting throngs of little admirers. Indeed, after seeing the cookies in action, I decided to throw out my copy of How To Win Friends & Influence People and simply hand out cookies instead.

This only compounds my confusion. What’s the deal with the birthday cakes? Why do I have so much trouble? Who knows? It remains one of life’s great mysteries!

No doubt being more practical than yours truly, I can hear you wondering why I don’t just buy a cake instead? Why do I keep torturing myself birthday cake after agonising birthday cake? Talk about a masochist!

Well, if you have ever made a birthday cake for someone you love, you’ll know precisely why I have to make these @#$% birthday cakes myself. That’s right. I add that magic ingredient…my love. You can’t buy, manufacture or even fake that and it’s not something you can buy off the supermarket shelf!

So here I am the night before Mister’s big 11th birthday expecting a tribe of friends at his party. The cakes have been baked without incident.  Everything is proceeding exceptionally well.

That was until it came to whipping the cream . A relatively simple task but that’s what turned the tide. Actually, make that whipping the low-fat lactose-free cream. Mister and other family members are lactose intolerant. I was concerned that being low-fat might be a problem but I’m ever the optimist.

I’d been beating the absolute crap out of the cream and it was still sploshing around like milk in the bowl when it should have been resembling butter, if not cheese. It had also splattered  absolutely all over the bench, anything parked on it and all down my shirt. That was when I dug out my magnifying glass and had a closer look at the label. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be.  Oh my goodness! There it was. “Not suitable for whipping”. The cake was doomed. The party was doomed.Disaster!!!

It was 11.00PM. The shops were shut and I had two cakes which desperately needed to be sandwiched together. In my desperation, I thought the caramel might just be enough. Being my usual Einstein self, I thought that if I scooped the thicker layer of cream off the “milk” and mixed it with the caramel, to put it good old colloquial Australian lingo: “she’ll be right, mate”.


Instead of bulking up the caramel, the cream almost turned it liquid.  My only hope was that it would fill up the bubbles in the cake before it ran off the edge and onto the plate. Taking a chance, I hoisted up the second layer of cake and prayed it would stay put, despite slipping and sliding around on roller skates. My only hope now was that the chocolate ganache would hold the cake together against all odds.

Not to be deterred by my humble prayers, catastrophe followed catastrophe and if I hadn’t developed resilience from all my previous birthday cake disasters, there would have been tears, loud wailing and unceasing sobs  as I cried and cried and cried….the world’s biggest loser of a Mum!

It might not be my party, but I’ll cry if I want to!! You would cry too if this had happened to you!

I'm not the only one who gets stressed out by birthday parties!

I’m not the only one who gets stressed out by birthday parties!

It’s My Party: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCPqaG8sVDE


Then and I guess you can see it coming, the @#$% cream stuffed up the ganache, which was sploshing like a chocolate milkshake. Desperate, I added cup after cup of icing sugar, trying to thicken it up. I’d poured in half the bag and it was still looking sloppy but at least, it was holding some shape. I poured the “ganache” over the cake and I looking like a human pretzel, I crossed everything I had to boost my luck.

But no! The ganache flowed over the top of the cake and kept going creating a moat around the poor, drowning cake. The river was so deep, you could literally kayak through it. Definitely not the look I was looking for so I started bailing the ganache out with a ladle and not unsurprisingly, it sploshed all over the bench and that’s when I found the dog not unsurprisingly underfoot.

This is where the birthday cake curse worked in my favour. Not being my first salvage operation, I had a few  tricks up my sleeve. In this instance, the answer had to be M & Ms. They cover up a multitude of sin. Although thanks to that wretched low fat lactose free “cream”, even they mucked up and were sliding down the cake. @#$%!!!

However, just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s salvation.

All's well that ends well.

All’s well that ends well.

I could have hugged one of my son’s friends. As he takes his first mouthful, he speaks up like a true Masterchef:

“I know what this is. It’s chocolate mouse!”

I’ve never been so thrilled. The chocolate ganache monster had a name and it was good.

Guess, it goes to show that you can’t go wrong with a chocolate cake after all!

By the way, here’s a past post about Birthday Cakes: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5947&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

Do you have any funny birthday stories to share? I’d love to hear them!!

xx Rowena

Two-Faced Chocolate Caramel Slice

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Sift flour into the mixing bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir with a large wooden spoon or equivalent.
  5. 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.
  6. Stir until ingredients are well combined.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Pour over prepared base and spread evenly with a butter knife.
  3. Bake in a moderate oven for about 8-12 minutes or until firm.
  4. Refrigerate for about 1-2 hours to set the caramel before adding the chocolate topping.
  5. 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.

Two-Faced Caramel Chocolate Slice with Milk and Dark Chocolate.

Two-Faced Caramel Chocolate Slice with Milk and Dark Chocolate.

Directions for Half ‘n Half Chocolate Topping.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Refrigerate until chocolate has set.

To serve

  1. Lift the slice out of the tin onto a large chopping board.
  2. 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.


Xx Rowena

Absolutely scrumptious!

Absolutely scrumptious!

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!