Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Caramel Cookie Slice

Caramel Cookie Slice
Home Cooking 

I would be in no way exaggerating if I said that I've done more cooking in the past few months than I have in all of 2014. That's the Christmas period for you. Not that I'm complaining. Unlike people who have to cook for a household out of necessity, I only do it when I find a recipe I want to create. Cooking is a only a hobby on the side for me and because of that, I thoroughly enjoy it. I know that if it became a daily chore, the novelty would grow old fast.

Marc's workplace had a Christmas morning tea a while back so I was given the task of baking a contribution. I shuffled some mad scientist creations in my head (rum and raisin slice with coffee buttercream frosting was tossed up at one point) but ended up going with something easy and safe. I found this recipe for caramel cookie slice in Nick Malgieri's "The Modern Baker" one of my favourite, most used cookbooks of all time. Unlike some of the adventurous recipes in the book, this seemed exceptionally easy.

The gist of the recipe is two parts: a base and a filling. A portion of the base is then reserved as a crumb coating. Easy.

Caramel Cookie Slice
Makes about 24 squares

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups plain flour
  • For the filling:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup dar brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 can (14-ounce or approx 400g) sweetened condensed milk

1. Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a rectangular pan (23 x 33 x 5cm).
2. For the dough, beat the butter with the sugar and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until soft and light (about 2-3 minutes). Add the vanilla.
3. On the lowest speed, beat in 2 and 1/4 cups of flour, scraping the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula and continuing to mix just until the dough is smooth and the flour has been absorbed.
4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape 3/4 of the dough into the prepared pan. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down evenly without compressing it too much. Chill the dough-linned pan.
5. Work the remaining 1/4 cup of flour into the remaining dough with your fingertips until it forms 3-6mm crumbs. Set aside at room temperature.
6. For the filling, in a medium saucepan bring the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to boil gently, stirring often, until it starts to thicken and darken slightly (about 10 minutes). Pour into a stainless-steel bowl and cool for 5 minutes.
7. Remove the dough-lined pan from the refrigerator and scrape the cooled filling onto the dough, using a small offset spatula to spread evenly.
8. Scatter the crumb mixture over the filling.
9. Bake until the filling is bubbly gently and is a deep caramel colour and the dough and crumb topping are baked through (about 30 minutes).
10. Cool in the pan on a rack until lukewarm (15-20 minutes). Lift the slab of baked dough out of the pan and onto a cutting board before it has cooled completely.

11. Cut into 5cm squares to serve. Keep these at room temperature if serving on the day, otherwise wrap and freeze and bring to room temperature when serving.

If you noticed that I don't have photos of my caramel filling, then a) well spotted! and b) it's because mine split as I was cooking it. I think I had a tad too much butter or the heat was on high or something. Basically rather than having a smooth, creamy mixture, a layer of molten butter sat on top of the saucepan. I poured some out, added water and whisked like a maniac to try to bring it back together. It sort of worked but it still wasn't a pretty sight. The point of this sad story is that I used this filling anyway and the slice came out just fine. This recipe is fool proof. There are just too many naughtily good ingredients going in to possibly end up wrong.

My summary of this slice is that it's like a very buttery, crumbly shortbread cooking with a creamy caramel filling. This isn't a snack to have every day if you care at all about your teeth/figure but as an odd treat, it's mighty delicious.

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