Ah the caramel slice, or, in Misanthropic Hostessland, the baked good formerly known as JB Bars.
Way back when I first encountered these, I thought the middle was a penuche, or brown sugar fudge. While I’m a fan of the penuche variation, the mana-like substance that makes up the middle layer of this variation is actually a caramel made of sweetened condensed milk.
Think dulce de leche.
Ah! Now I have your attention.
In this take on the treat, the shortbread base includes coconut. If you haven’t already clued-in, coconut is like the Australian version of Frank’s Hot Sauce. They put that s*&t in just about everything.
But back to the caramel. In this version, sweetened condensed milk is heated along with some butter and golden syrup (also in everything Australian) until everything is combined. Then it is baked on top of the shortbread base until it looks like Deadpool without the mask. Trust me, though it be ugly, it’ll taste exactly like you imagine Ryan Reynolds tastes.
I had a tough time getting this part just right. I went through four iterations before I was brave enough to leave it in the oven long enough to let it set up.
Once cooled, the unsightly caramel gets a gorgeous layer of chocolate.
The recipe below makes a 9X9 inch square. It won’t seem like enough–but –cut these into 1X1ish inch squares. The term decadent could take a lesson from these bad boys.
Store them in the fridge. However, they’re safe at room temp (they’ll just loosen up a little…kind of like I do when thinking about what Ryan Reynolds smells like).
Speaking of Ryan Reynolds–TD and I saw the most recent Deadpool movie in Australia. Guess what? Not the least bit different from going to the movies in the U.S.
Recipe cobbled together from several. Read through before you start baking!
for the shortbread base
- 1 C (150G) all purpose flour
- ½ C (40G) desiccated or shredded and chopped coconut
- 1/2 C (about 125G) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ C (90G) golden brown sugar
for the caramel
- 1/2 C (about 125G) unsalted butter
- 2 X 395G cans sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 C (115G) golden syrup (light corn syrup will work)
- 1/2 C (200g) semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
- TBS vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 9X9 pan with parchment going both ways so that there is 2 inches overhanging the lip of the pan all the way around (see photo above). Oil parchment
- Sift flour into a medium sized bowl.
- Add-in coconut butter and brown sugar until everything is just combined (dough will be very soft and moist–it won’t feel like shortbread)
- Press dough into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.
- While base is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on very low heat.
- Stir-in milk and golden syrup. Bring heat up to low-medium and stir for 8 minutes until mixture is slightly thickened (the difference is subtle).
- Once shortbread base is out of the oven, pour caramel over. Return to oven and bake for at least 30 minutes. The top should be golden and while it will still have some jiggle, it shouldn’t be liquid. Err on the side of over-done here.
- Refrigerate until completely cool.
- Melt chocolate and vegetable oil together. Pour over chilled caramel.
- Refrigerate until set-up (ideally at least a couple of hours)
- Cut into 1 inch slices (you’ll be tempted to go bigger but these are very rich).
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Will keep up to 5 days.