Friday, August 22, 2014

Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Slice

Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Slice 

Well, here I am on my wonderful work-free Friday.  Work, that is, in the paid sense.  The other unpaid kind is what’s eating away at my day today.  That, and the incessant pull of social media just in case I’m missing something interesting. I often wonder how I get more done when I have less time at home but I already know the answer. So I’ll just call it pottering and look upon it as a form of relaxation.

I’ve been listening to a radio discussion on Retired Husband Syndrome (RHS) that made me laugh out loud. A study has found that many women with a retired husband at home suffered stress related symptoms such as insomnia, headaches and depression (and presumably extra work cleaning up after the husband’s “bright ideas” or projects?).  As I was chortling away (in my defense, it was presented in a humorous tone), a certain thread of trepidation crept in, making me realize I too would find it difficult not to have my cherished “home alone” time. It’s a long way off but I am thankful then to have a large shed where he can mess around until his heart is content and I won’t be setting foot in or cleaning it.  Whew!

One thing I did achieve today was making this slice.  I’d been thinking of driving 20 minutes to experience a similar one at a local cafĂ© but decided to stay put, brew a good coffee and make this using some leftover chocolate ganache and sweetened condensed milk I had in the fridge.  I’m glad I did.

The recipe comes from the Little & Friday cookbook given to me as a Christmas present last year. Eight months later, I hadn’t baked one single thing from it so it was time to change that. 

It’s a wonderfully gooey, fudgy, chocolate slice.  I expected it to be similar to Millionaire’s Shortbread (my recipe here) but the chocolate base and caramel & hazelnut filling are both different and gorgeous and I love the hazelnuts. Not surprisingly it’s an “in demand” best-seller for Little & Friday.

I'm entering this for Sweet New Zealand, hosted this month by Munch Cooking.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Slice 


175g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
½ cup good quality cocoa
1½ cups plain flour
½ tsp salt


2 x 395g tins sweetened condensed milk
200ml golden syrup
100g butter
1 cup roasted hazelnuts*, chopped


¾ cup chocolate ganache

*To roast hazelnuts, heat oven to 180°C.  Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.  Leave to cool.  Rub hazelnuts briskly in a tea towel to remove the skin and chop into about quarters.


Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease and line a 25cm square tin (leave an overlap of baking paper lining for easier removal from tin).

Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla in a cake mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until well combined. Sift the cocoa, flour and salt together and add to the mix, again until well combined.

Press the mix firmly and evenly into the base of the baking tin.  Bake for 10-15 minutes in the centre of the oven.

While the base is cooking, prepare the filling by combining the condensed milk, golden syrup, butter and hazelnuts into a saucepan.  Heat slowly over a low heat then pour over the cooked base. 

Return the base and filling to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, spread a thin layer of hot chocolate ganache over the top.  I removed the base and filling from the baking tin before I spread the ganache on top.

Once the ganache has set, use a sharp knife to cut into squares or slices. Dip the knife in hot water and wipe off with paper towel between each cut for easier slicing.

Ganache (makes 1 cup – use ¾ cup for above recipe) 

200g good quality dark chocolate (I use Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana)
½ cup cream

Gently melt the chocolate and cream in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl).  Stir until melted and smooth.  Leave to cool and thicken. 

Leftover ganache can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks (or eaten by the spoonful if you are so inclined!).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ginger & Sultana Loaf

I'm a huge fan of very dark, sticky and spicy gingerbread and the last time I baked one, I posted it way back in 2011 here, so it's been a long wait...

Unlike the earlier gingerbread, this one won't knock your socks off, but it is a good, moist loaf with chunks of stem ginger and sultanas. If you can, use stem ginger (I used Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup which comes in a jar) as it really adds to the flavour of the loaf.  If not, leave it out (you'll still get the taste from the ground ginger) or use chopped crystallized ginger instead. 

Like most gingerbread loaves it improves with age over a week but as noted in my last gingerbread post, I've never tested that theory as nothing ever lasts that long (unless it's inedible).

And, as I've used one in my photo, let me just say how much I love hellebores or winter roses. I have little clumps of them under trees and their hidden beauty always makes me smile. One trick I learned from an English home and garden magazine was to leave the picked hellebores somewhere midway between the cold outside and warmth inside (the entrance way works for us) to let them adjust to a warmer temperature.  They then won't droop so quickly when they feel the heat. Me? I never droop in the heat - bring it on!

Ginger & Sultana Loaf

100g butter
100g dark cane (or soft brown) sugar
100g treacle
1 egg, beaten
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
150ml warm milk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
50g sultanas
2 pieces of stem ginger, chopped (optional)
(I add any syrup clinging to the stem ginger too - nice & sticky!) 

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. 

Grease and line a loaf tin.

Place the butter, sugar and treacle in a saucepan and heat gently until melted, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool slightly, then beat in the egg.

Sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl, then stir in the melted mixture and beat well to combine.

Mix the milk with the bicarbonate of soda and add this to the mix.  Stir in the sultanas and the stem ginger. 

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin.