In my favourite baking cookbook, Belinda Jeffery’s Mix & Bake, there’s a recipe for Walnut and Caramel Bars that is awesome for many reasons, except that nobody at our place likes walnuts at all (my husband feels especially ripped off when they taunt him by randomly turning up in chocolate brownie), so I’ve avoided this recipe until now. I had a spare packet of Nestle milk chocolate chips hanging around in the pantry, and it occurred to me that this recipe could be just as good with the combination of chocolate and caramel flavours. And wow – it turned out beautifully! The base of this slice is lovely and short – pastry-like, buttery and crumbly without falling apart, and in the oven, the topping forms another three layers to create a total of four with the base: first a thin layer of caramel, followed by messy choc-chips underneath a layer of meringuey goodness that settles on the top. And I love the versatility of this one – it’s been used at our place for dessert with friends over for dinner, lunch box treats and afternoon tea following a big day. The quantities that follow make a very large slice in a 30x20cm tin, and produces approximately 40 pieces (for a regular lamington sized tin, just halve the recipe). Worst case scenario this massive slice costs just under $9 to make, but less if you stock up on chocolate chips when they’re on special or use a Homebrand variety.
- 320g plain flour
- 140g caster sugar
- 250g butter
- 4 eggs
- 140g castor sugar
- 140g brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 x 250g bag Nestle chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a large 30x20cm slice/roasting tin with baking powder.
- Throw all the ingredients for the base into a food processor and process until pastry has formed and is well-combined. Press mixture into lined tin, setting aside the food processor to use again later (don’t bother washing it up) and use fingers or the back of a spoon to ensure pastry is evenly spread in the tin. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- While base cooking, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- Throw the two sugars, eggs, vanilla extract into the food processor and combine well. Add the dry ingredients from the small bowl and process again. Remove blade from the bowl of the food processor and stir in chocolate chips.
- Allow the base to cool for 10 minutes (doesn’t have to be completely cool) and spread the topping mixture evenly over the base. Bake again for 20 minutes, though start checking earlier. Once the topping seems set and brown, remove from the oven. It should still be a little wobbly as it will set further as it cools. Cut when cool. Enjoy!