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!
Belinda Jeffery’s Mix & Bake is one of my all-time favourite cookbooks and it is the delightful original source from which I’ve adapted this Coconut and Caramel Slice. Pretty much every recipe in this book is a taste winner and it makes a wonderful gift for those who love to bake. This easy slice is excellent for hospitality because it makes a large quantity in one baking effort (so you can cater for more than one event in one baking session) and the coconutty caramel flavour atop the crumbly vanilla base it so very hard to go past. The quantities below make a very large slice and costs $8 to make (up to 40 pieces), though if you don’t need such a large amount, simply halve all the quantities and you will have a slice that neatly fits into a standard 28x18cm sized lamington tin for around $4. Easily freezable and with a refrigerated shelf-life of over a week, this is a great option to keep ahead of a busy week of hospitality opportunities or for even just a moments quiet rest with a cuppa and a good book.
- 2 1/4 cups/335g plain flour
- 1/2 cup/80g icing sugar
- 250g cold butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 45g butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup/220g firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 1/2 cups/105g shredded coconut
- 50g flaked almonds for topping
- icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees, (170 if fan forced) and line a large 32x24cm slice tin with baking paper.
- Combine all the ingredients for the base in a food processor and press evenly into the bottom of the tin. Set food processor aside and don’t wash it up yet. Bake the base for 20-25 mins until slightly golden. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 150 degrees, (140 if fan forced).
- While the slice is cooling slightly, put sugars and flour in the already used food processor and process together. Pull out the blade and gently stir in the shredded coconut. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, coconut cream, vanilla extract and melted butter using a whisk. Gently fold dry ingredients from the food processor into this wet mixture. Gently tip the whole topping mixture over the base and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for around 45 minutes, though start checking earlier. Slice is cooked when the topping feels set and the whole thing is evenly golden.
- Cool to room temperature and cut into squares or fingers as desired. This slice cuts especially well when cut with a large, sharp straight-edged knife and after spending some time in the fridge. Enjoy!
Years ago, in another life before having kids, my husband and I lived in Queensland and made friends with a couple called Sacha and Leigh-anne after we joined the Bible study group they hosted. Sacha and Leigh-anne were down to earth, funny, outdoorsy types who loved to go camping and listen to Garth Brooks in the car (Steve could only just tolerate the Garth Brooks bit, but I loved it). Each week we’d all bring our takeaway dinner to their house, share the highs and lows of the week, study the Bible and pray together. Their home was always open, they never bunged anything on for any of us (Sacha was often in the bath when we arrived) and they didn’t mind one little bit if you made yourself a cup of tea. In that season of life, we all grew lots spiritually and had lots of fun times together. These days we all live a long way from each other, but some friends from the town we now live in, Gavin & Chantell, have moved to their town – and to our delight have found good friends in each other. Last week, while on holidays we got to have the second annual Three Family Get-together, and just like old times shared with both families, it was delightful: a relaxed catch-up, fun and games as Sacha kept us entertained with his stories, all the while sharing simple but yummy food. Chantell brought this tasty dessert that went down a treat with everyone and I had to give it a go myself and share it with you. Hardly ‘cooking’ at all: it’s more like assembling a salad from a bunch of ingredients, this versatile dessert costs about $17 to make, but it does serve 15 people. For a smaller group, simply halve the quantities, which also halves the cost. As all the ingredients (except the cream) can be stored in the pantry for when you want them, I recommend buying them up when on special to make this even more affordable. Thanks for the recipe, Chantell.
- 4 Peppermint Crisp chocolate bars, chopped roughly
- 1 can of Nestle Caramel Top’n’fill
- 2 x packets of Nice biscuits (or other plain biscuits)
- 900ml cream, whipped
- Choose a medium sized casserole/pie/oven dish, and spread a thin layer of caramel on the bottom. Place a layer of evenly spaced biscuits over the top of the caramel, followed by a layer of cream. Sprinkle 1/4 of the peppermint crisp over the layer cream. Repeat this series of layers until all the ingredients are finished or the dish is full.
- End the layers with cream and the remaining peppermint crisp. I had some leftover malteasers in the pantry so popped them on top too – feel free to improvise.
- Place in the fridge for 24 hours to allow for softening and setting. Enjoy with ice-cream or without.