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!
Often my dislike of baking biscuits sees me attempting to turn a biscuit recipe into one for a slice, and yesterday my friend Charmaine’s Facebook photo of her Peanut Butter Biscuits had me once again starting down this path. And yay – I think it worked! What follows is a slight variation (I added choc-chips) on the original recipe by Paula Deen, which results in a mouth-watering and chewy slice. It took me all of 5 minutes to mix up and whack this gluten free dessert option into a tin and then into the oven – just in time for a friend popping in for afternoon tea. Using the quantities below, this slice makes 24 pieces and costs under $6 to make, less if you prefer to leave out the chocolate. Thanks for the recipe, Charmaine.
- 500g good quality peanut butter
- 400g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150g choc chips (homebrand are fine)
- dash of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Combine all ingredients except raw sugar in a bowl and box well. Press into a lined 20 x 30cm slice tin using clean, wet hands. Sprinkle raw sugar evenly across the top of slice.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes (slice should be brown on top, firm around the edges and fudgey in the middle. If slice browns quickly, cover in foil for remainder of cook time. and allow to cool before cutting. Boil the kettle for tea and 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!
Many a Moore College family between the years 2008 and 2011 will remember Julie Morrow’s Ice-cream slice, often served up at the weekly-free-for-all college playground dinners. Always a hit, several people have mentioned how great the recipe is for hospitality and have replicated it many times long since their time at college has come to an end. And for good reason: it’s really fast to make, tastes terrific and serves at least 21 people for a total cost of $13, though much less if you stock up on biscuits and chocolate bars when on special. Thanks for a great recipe Julie, and thanks for reminding me to give it a go, Jess!
- 1 x 375g tin condensed milk
- 600ml cream
- 3 x 52g chocolate bars of your choice (I used cherry ripe), roughly chopped
- your choice of food colouring (I chose to keep mine white this time)
- 1 1/2 packets of plain biscuits such as Malt-O-Milk (I used Morning Coffee)
- Line a 20x30cm slice tin with foil and put down a layer of biscuits wrong side up. Make sure they fit in the tin nice and snugly.
- Whip cream until thick, add condensed milk and whip again. Gently stir through chopped chocolate bar and food colouring, if using. Spread cream mixture evenly over biscuit base and then top with another layer of biscuits, right side up this time.
- Cover with foil and freeze overnight. When ready to serve, tip slice out using a board to keep it stable when up-ending it. Remove the last layer of foil and cut into biscuit sized portions using a large sharp knife. Eat and enjoy immediately!
TIP: If you don’t eat it all when you first serve it, cut slices into individual portions before returning left-overs to the freezer. This will make it easier to access and serve next time round.
I love gingerbread – actually, I love anything with ginger in it. And years ago, my friend Cynthia put me onto this amazing recipe called Grandpa Pencil’s Gingerbread Men. Since then, it’s been my go-to for great tasting gingerbread that turns out just how I like it: sweet, gingery, a bit of crunch but mostly chewy in texture. And of course, the kids always love decorating them. The only down-side has been the time it often takes to make and decorate a batch of these lovely things – definitely more a holiday or a weekend thing, than something achievable when life is busy. But I’ve come by two solutions to this problem. The first is these square cookie cutters I recently stumbled upon for $9.95 in a kitchen shop. No more re-rolling excess dough multiple times because the cookie shapes are so awkward. With these square cutters, there’s no need for edges at all, which maximises time by just cutting once. I should say too, as my friend Jane suggested to me: you really don’t need square cookie cutters to treat rolled out dough like this – just use a butter knife and cut the dough into squares in whatever size you prefer. And here’s a tip: the best way I’ve found to lift the uncooked shapes off a floured bench is to use a thin, metal egg lifter. The second gingerbread solution is to cook Grandpa Pencil’s dough as a slice instead of as cookies and decorate with freckles before they go in the oven, which is my adaptation below. Either way, this recipe will cost no more than $3 to make. Thanks Cynthia, for sharing this one all those years ago.
- 125g butter, softened to room temperature
- 125g sugar (I use brown)
- 280g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup golden syrup, warmed in microwave
- 24 freckles
- Cream butter and sugar. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- With beaters mixing slowly, gently add warmed golden syrup until mixture turns to a ball of dough, not too wet and not too dry.
- If making into biscuits roll mixture onto a floured bench, otherwise, using wet hands, press mixture into a 30 x 20 cm lined lamington tin.
- Press 24 freckles into the wet mixture in a 4×5 configuration and bake at 180 degrees (170 if fan-forced) for 45 minutes. If it goes brown on top but still hasn’t cooked through, cover with foil and return to the oven. The end result should be a fudgy/brownie consistency, not so much a crumbly or dry slice. Allow to cool completely in tin before cutting between freckles into 24 squares.
When it’s school holiday time, we seem to eat so much more as a family than we usually do. It’s taken me by surprise how frequently my kids want to eat and with the extra time to spend with them at home, it’s been nice to do a little baking. But I’m no super spontaneous, indie, ‘let’s get creative’ type mum so adventures in this area still need to be simple enough to keep the fun levels high for all of us. This recipe sent in by Emily Yap totally fits the bill, who recommends it for lots of reasons: they’re tasty, cheap, easy to make and all the ingredients are standard pantry items – cause who likes having to make an extra trip to the shops just to do some baking? This recipe, adapted from a blog called The Pioneer Woman Cooks makes 15 squares of yummy-ness and will cost around $4 to bake.
- 200g cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup oats (quick or regular)
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed firm
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 x 370g jar of jam of your preference, I used IXL Strawberry Conserve
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees, then grease and line a 20 x 30 cm lamington tin.
- Put all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, blitz for just a moment until everything is just combined.
- Add chopped butter to the mix and process until mixture resembles crumbs with large/obvious chunks, roughly the size of rice grains. Be careful not to over-process.
- Divide mixture in half and press one half of the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the lamington tin.
- Heat the jam in the microwave at 50% for 40 seconds and give it a good stir. Pour gently over the crumb base and use a spoon to spread evenly.
- Gently tip the rest of the crumb mixture on the top of the jam and spread evenly. Using clean fingers press down as firmly as possible without destabilising the jam.
- Bake for 20-30 mins until brown on top. Cool in the tin and use a sharp knife to cut into squares.
A while back the girls in the weekly Bible study group I’m part of were asked to help cater for desserts for an evangelistic event. We needed to provide a variety of easy desserts that involved little serving hassle, tasted great and cared for the needs of those with allergies. When my friend Jacinta said, “I’ve got a gluten free chocolate brownie recipe that works every time and tastes great”, we all praised God! And she was right. The group got together for a big baking session the night before and everything came together, in part due to this terrific recipe. Unlike many brownie recipes, there’s no expensive ingredients here and the whole thing cooked evenly without drying out the edges. I’m going to be using this one for many years to come! You’ll find gluten free flour in the health food section of most supermarkets and the whole recipe will cost around $5 to make.
- 240g butter or margarine
- 2 cups raw sugar (can substitute with caster or white)
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups gluten free plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- pinch of salt
- Mix in 1/2-3/4 cup of any of the following, if desired: berries, jersey caramels, chocolate chips, walnuts or peanuts.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius, 160 degrees if fan-forced
- line a large baking dish or two 25×25 square pans with baking paper
- Melt margarine in glass jug or saucepan
- In a large bowl, combine sugar and cocoa, mix in melted butter, eggs, vanilla and salt.
- Sift bicarb soda and flour together and fold into the mix. Beat the mixture well by hand or with an electric mixer.
- Pour into tin/s and bake for 25-30 minutes, though start checking earlier. It should fee; ‘just set’ on top. Remember: it will continue to cook as it cools, so don’t overcook.
- Cool in the tin and serve by itself or with cream, icecream or raspberry sauce.