A Slice That's So Nice: Chocolate-Caramel Slice

I came across a Bon Appétit recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Slice when I needed a dessert for an office party and I put the phrase "chocolate caramel" into the epicurious.com recipe search engine. I only recently became familiar with Australia/New Zealand concept of dessert slices, after making a wonderful ginger slice recipe featured on David Lebovitz's blog. How could I resist the idea of a slice with caramel, chocolate ganache, and a sprinkling of salt?

I did not have the 11-inch by 7-inch pan specified in the recipe, so I decided to make a double batch in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan, even though I knew that my all of my layers would be about 30 percent thicker as a result.

You make the crust in the food processor from flour, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, chilled butter, ice water, and an egg yolk. The resulting dough was so stiff that it was difficult for me to press it evenly into the bottom of a pan; I eventually resorted to getting out my rolling pin for an assist. Since I always line my pans with parchment, I rolled out the crust on top of a piece of parchment I had already folded to fit inside the pan, and then just dropped the parchment with the dough still on it into the pan. I docked the crust, baked it until golden, and cooled it completely.

The caramel layer is a mixture of condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, golden syrup, and vanilla cooked to 225 degrees. After pouring the caramel over the crust and letting it set at room temperature for about 15 minutes, you spread on some chocolate ganache (chocolate and heavy cream), sprinkle on some coarse salt, and chill the pan to allow the bars to firm up. I put the pan in the refrigerator overnight.

I was able to cut the bars easily and cleanly the following morning. It was only after I saw the cut slices that I realized how similar the base + caramel + chocolate combination was to the Millionaire's Shortbread from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking -- although the shortbread had a crumbly crust prone to breaking off when I cut the bars, while the crust of the chocolate-caramel slices stayed intact.

The crust layer was sturdy but tender, and it had a strong brown sugar flavor. The caramel layer held its shape, but it was quite soft and had just a little bit of chew. The thin chocolate layer was mostly overshadowed by the caramel, but the overall flavor of the bars was wonderful and addictive. The major difference between these slices and the millionaire's shortbread is that the shortbread had a very crunchy base layer, so that eating it evoked the sensation of eating a Twix bar. But I loved both recipes and I would have to taste them side by side to be able to pick a favorite.

Recipe: "Chocolate-Caramel Slice" from epicurious.com.

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