I am one of those people who always has an enormous to-do list, yet still manages to agree to every little request and then ends up with another regular “to-do” on the list. The latest one appears to be trading sweet treats with the IT department at work in order to get my laptop issues sorted. In fairness to them, my laptop works pretty well, unlike some of my colleagues.
Also, as I work from home 2 days a week my colleagues see it as only fitting that on my return to the office I provide a treat/bribe for sitting at home watching “Jeremy Kyle” and re-runs of “Murder She Wrote”. They don’t seem to realise that I actually get alot more work done at home than in the office, but it is an arguement I have long since given up fighting.
Baking mid-week is not easy to fit in. The dilemna I usually have is Baking or Ironing?? Judging by the mountain of clothes on the table in front of me, its fairly obvious ironing is not a priority. But for practical reasons, baking mid-week needs to be quick and easy yet still be worth the effort. Also, when bringing treats for work, you are never quite sure how many you are catering for. This is where I find traybakes come into their own. You make one tray, cut it up into whatever sizes you like and people can just help themselves, no fuss. When it comes to cooking dinners, I like stews etc where everything goes into one pot and you leave it off for an hour or so and hey presto, dinner is ready. Traybakes for me are the dessert equivalent. They can be as simple or complicated as you like but reallly there isn’t much to it.
Anyway, this week I decided to make caramel slices. I will admit to cheating on my fail safe recipe of Roxanne’s Millionaire Shortbread from Nigella and I tried something a bit different. A gutsy move mid-week because failed baking on a Tuesday can just ruin your entire week.
Rather than the traditional shortbread base, the base contains coconut which gives an extra bit of texture to the slices and also reduces what can often be the painful sweetness of caramel slices. Also I made my caramel with treacle rather than golden syrup for another twist.
Here is the recipe:
For the base you will need: 75g self-raising flour, 75g plain flour, 80g desiccated coconut, 220g light brown sugar and 125g melted butter. Combine them all together and evenly cover the base of your tray. (The amounts here are perfect for a 20cm x 30cm tray but you can adjust to the size of tray you have. Bake for 15 minutes at 180C
For the caramel you will need: 1 tin of condensed milk, 2 tbsp treacle (or golden syrup if you prefer) and 30g butter. Combine these in a small pan and whisk over a medium heat for 15 minutes or until it looks like caramel! Pour over the base and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Now you need to keep an eye on it at this stage as it can easily over do and you will need Jaws to munch through the caramel.
For the topping you will need: 185g chocolate and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or butter. Most recipes recommend plain chocolate but I find an equal mix of plain and milk chocolate gives the best taste. Also it allows you to cater for everybody as not everyone is a fan of plain chocolate (seemingly). Once your base and caramel have cooled, melt your chocolate and oil over a low heat and pour on top. Leave to set over night or in the fridge for a couple of hours. If you have no pateince and there have been occasions, the freezer sets it up nicely, you just lose the gloss off the chocolate.
All you need now is your trusty “pizza cutter” – it cuts more cakes than pizza in my house.
You now have enough caramel slices to get all your IT issues sorted, suck up to your boss, AND leave a few at home so your kids still think you are the best mammy ever!