Sunday, May 29, 2016

What an Amazing Dessert

Okay, first off, I made this recipe straight from the Donna Hay site. It is called Classic Chocolate Caramel Slice. Click on that link to go there. The site is from Australia, and they use lots of terms that for the regular old USA kind of cook, can leave one a bit at a loss. 

Long ago, in Guatemala, I made a friend who is an Australian, believe it or not! She was married to a friend of my (at the time) Guatemalan husband. I got to know a little about Australians, their slang and lingo, and most importantly, I looked through her cookbooks, becoming familiar with the terms. One thing that jumped out right away was the use of "aubergine" instead of eggplant. Another was the use of grams instead of ounces or cups. 
Chocolate Caramel Bars
Chocolate Caramel Bars

So when I found this recipe while perusing Facebook yesterday, it just looked so good. And I was feeling stressed. You know what they say: ""Stressed is dessert spelled backwards!" So I went to the kitchen. 

I will not begin to say this is a quickie dessert to be whipped up and eaten within the hour. No, it does require more effort than that. There are three distinct steps to the recipe. The first is making the crust. Which uses 9 tablespoons of butter. And then the caramel filling, using 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, PLUS what they call "golden syrup", PLUS 9 tablespoons of butter. This recipe is nothing if not decadent! And then, probably the most innocuous part of the whole recipe: dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of oil added. 

The recipe calls for a 20 x 30 centimeter pan. I got out my trusty ruler and found this to be a 9 x 13-inch pan. I went further and used my Wilton, very straight sided 9 x 13-inch pan, so the sides would be very squared, rather than a regular 9 x 13 baking dish with rounded edges. This squared edge resulted in a much wider base, and a thinner bar. Mine were just a little over a quarter inch thick. 

Chocolate Caramel Bars
Chocolate Caramel Bars
While the flour and sugar were given alternatively in cups and in grams, other measurements were in grams alone. Luckily I have a kitchen scale to measure with, so I found that 125 grams of butter equaled 9 tablespoons.  The sweetened condensed milk does have both ounces and grams, so that was a no-brainer. When confronted with 200 grams of dark chocolate, I had to use the scale. I had bars of Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate baking bars. Each one is 4 ounces, or 113.5 grams. The bars are sectioned into 8 squares apiece. By weight, 200 grams turned out to be all but one of the little square sections of two whole bars, or 15 small square sections.

Okay, once I had all the calculations, all I had to do is decide what to do about the golden syrup, which I do not have. I recall another recipe from Donna Hay that called for golden syrup, and my sister said something about approximating with honey mixed with corn syrup. This is what I did, with no more exactitude than pouring in an eyeballed half of the 1/3 cup measure, of honey, and then filling to the top with corn syrup. I used dark corn syrup, but I am pretty sure light would make no perceptible difference. 

I hesitated with the idea of using the exact recipe here, as it comes from the Donna Hay website, but it is changed enough to almost count. Still, I would encourage anyone looking for a really decadent dessert that can be cut pretty tiny, if desired - do check out that website, because you will just drool all over your computer while perusing! I guarantee!

Chocolate Caramel Bars, a la Donna Hay

Chocolate Caramel Bars
Chocolate Caramel Bars
Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan, about 64 small squares

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, in cubes
2 cans (14 ounce / 396 grams each) 
   sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup honey & corn syrup mixed

7 1/2 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate 
1 tablespoon oil (I used hazelnut oil)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the long edges to allow for lifting out later. Cut corners to fit. Spray the parchment lightly with cooking spray. Set pan aside.

Make the crust by combining the flour, brown sugar and coconut in a mixing bowl, then adding the melted butter. Stir until well-combined and turn into the prepared pan. Press gently and firmly to make the crust mixture fit to all the edges and covering the pan bottom with no holes or gaps. This can take a little time. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven. 

While the crust is baking, make the caramel. Mix together the three caramel ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture with a whisk or a silicone spatula until butter is melted. Continue stirring vigorously, scraping bottom and sides of pan for about 7 to 9 minutes. Once crust is out of the oven, pour this mixture over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for another 15 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking. The top of the caramel should be a deep golden color and bubbling.

Remove the pan to a rack to cool, and once tepid, move to the refrigerator until cooled through. Once cooled, make the chocolate topping. Combine the chocolate and oil in a medium saucepan over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in 1 minute bursts in the microwave. Pour the chocolate over the cooled bars and spread evenly to edges. Return the pan to the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour. Use the parchment to help lift the bars out of the pan for easier slicing. Cut into narrow strips, about 1 1/2-inch wide, then across into approximately 1 1/2 inch squares. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.